Western Hockey League announces Jan. 8 start date for next season

Western Hockey League announces Jan. 8 start date for next season

CALGARY — The Western Hockey League has announced that its regular season will open on Jan. 8, 2021.

The WHL said in a statement that players will report to their respective WHL Clubs following the Christmas break, where they will begin training in preparation for the opening of the regular season.

The WHL, along with the other leagues in the Canadian Hockey League, shut down their 2019-20 seasons on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league said a final determination on whether fans will be permitted to attend games has not been made, and will be subject to the approval of the health authorities in each jurisdiction.

Teams will play exclusively against opponents in their own division to minimize travel.

The East Division consists of seven Saskatchewan and Manitoba-based teams; the Central Division has five Alberta-based teams; the B.C. Division consists of the five B.C.-based teams; and the U.S. Division represents five teams in Washington and Oregon.

The WHL is one of three major junior hockey teams under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League started play on Oct. 2, but had COVID-19 outbreaks on two teams last week. The league announced Wednesday that it has suspended play in both of its Quebec-based divisions until at least Oct. 28 because of the pandemic. Five of six teams in its Maritimes Division will continue to play.

The Ontario Hockey League has yet to announce its plans for the 2020-21 season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press