Ontario Hockey League to return to play December 1

Dylan Myskiw of the London Knights. (Photo courtesy of Terry Wilson via OHL Images)

The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) hopes to launch its 2020-2021 season on December 1.

The league officially announced its return to play plans on Wednesday. They include a 64-game schedule and a 16-team playoff format. The regular season would end on April 29, 2021, one month later than normal. That would push the 102nd Memorial Cup to June 17-27, 2021. It will be hosted by either the Oshawa Generals or Soo Greyhounds.

“We are looking forward to getting back to playing hockey, but are committed to ensuring that we do so in a manner that is safe and healthy for our players, officials, families, billets, teams, staff, fans and the community,” OHL Commissioner David Branch said in a statement. “Players will remain at home until the season resumes and teams will work closely with them on both their academic studies and overseeing their on and off-ice development.”

The league will also be working with host arenas to ensure the venues are safe, added Branch.

Over the next four months, league officials will work with government and health agencies to “finalize outstanding issues such as safe attendance at venues and cross border travel for teams and players.”

Three of the OHL’s teams are based in the United States – Erie, Pennsylvania and Flint and Saginaw, Michigan. This could potentially pose a problem as the Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since mid-March due to COVID-19. It was around the same time the OHL was forced to suspend its 2019-20 season to help stop the spread of the virus.