The Western Hockey League has, again, been forced to delay the start of its 2020-21 regular season.
The junior hockey league announced the decision on Tuesday afternoon, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The league generally begins regular-season play in late September, but officials realized months earlier that date was in jeopardy.
In June, the league announced an optimistic start date of Oct. 2, with a 68-game schedule, though that was later pushed to Dec. 4, then Jan. 8.
Now it’s unknown when league play will begin.
“With public health restrictions in place across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S., the WHL is not in a position to start its regular season as planned on January 8,” the league said in a statement.
The WHL said it made the decision following consultation with regional health authorities. The league’s board of governors will meet in January to consider potential start dates.
“We continue to make every effort to get our season started, but our first priority has always been the health and safety of our players, and everyone associated with the WHL,” said WHL commissioner Ron Robison.
“Given the public health restrictions that are currently in effect, we are not in a position to determine a new target date for our season. We will continue to consult with health authorities to determine when it is safe and responsible to get our season started.”
The league stretches across western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, and features 22 teams, 17 of which are Canadian.
In related news, the United States Hockey League, which bills itself as America’s top Tier 1 league, is around eight games into its season.
Eight games were recently played between Dec. 12-15.