The junior hockey world has joined the professional sports world in pressing pause on its season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and Western Hockey League have confirmed that their seasons are on pause “until further notice.”
Kelowna Rockets general manager Bruce Hamilton emphasized that the WHL season is paused, not cancelled, and is hoping they will be able to resume play.
He said the decision to pause the season was first and foremost about player safety.
“You are dealing with young athletes. When these players come to play with us, their parents leave them here and it is our responsibility to make sure they are taken care of,” Hamilton said.
The news comes as the NHL announced Thursday it is suspending its season.
The decision is being watched closely in Kelowna, B.C., which is scheduled to host the 2020 Memorial Cup in May.
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At this point, Hamilton said plans for the Memorial Cup are still moving forward.
“That is still 10 weeks out. It’s a long ways away.”
The Memorial Cup tournament brings together the winning teams from the CHL’s three member leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League — and the host city’s team.