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OHL's return won't happen with bodychecking

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King Heffy

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The Ontario Hockey League will have to try to remove physical contact, including bodychecking, if it's to have a 2020-21 season.

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, spoke with media on Wednesday, where she addressed a variety of issues facing sports in the province during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of her most pressing concerns is the OHL's return-to-play plan, which she said is currently targeting an early December start date.

However, MacLeod said steps have to be taken by the OHL — or any sporting organization in the province — to slow the spread of COVID-19, including removing close physical contact among players.

"It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it's incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19," said MacLeod. "That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play."

Premier Doug Ford's government has put a four-week pause on any new reopening plans, including sports organizations like the OHL. MacLeod said that her ministry and the OHL are "in constant contact" as they try to come up with a reopening plan for the 20-team league.

"We work incredibly well with them, (OHL commissioner) David Branch is a part of our ministerial advisory committee as well, so they're well aware of the health crisis that we find ourselves in in the second wave," said MacLeod.

MacLeod added that the OHL has not asked for any financial support from the provincial government during the prolonged stoppage in play. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, one of the OHL's partner leagues in the Canadian Hockey League, has had to ask different levels of government for financial support.

The OHL said in a statement that will not comment on its ongoing negotiations with the Ontario government.

There are other stumbling blocks for the OHL's return to play.

Three of its teams are in the United States — Flint (Mich.) Firebirds, Saginaw (Mich.) Spirit, and Erie (Pa.) Otters — and having them cross the border would be a matter for Canada's federal government to address.

Further, two of its teams — the Ottawa 67's and Mississauga Steelheads — are in "hot zone" parts of Ontario, where the second wave is at its worse. On Wednesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott announced 173 new cases in Toronto, 121 in Ottawa, 75 in York Region, and 70 in Peel Region.

MacLeod said that the OHL is not interested in doing a self-contained bubble, like the NHL, NBA, and WNBA did to complete their 2019-20 seasons.

"I know, right now, that those options are not the preferred route," said MacLeod. "They have provided us with a robust return-to-play proposal for our consideration.

"I think that their hope would be not to be in a bubble or tournament situation."

Minor hockey associations in Ontario have a planned restart this month without bodychecking, fighting, or faceoffs. Teams must also be kept in 50-player bubbles, with play limited to 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 to help skaters remain physically distant on the bench.

The Greater Toronto Hockey League, Canada's largest minor hockey association, announced over the weekend that it would not be playing until January.

MacLeod also spoke about return-to-play plans for other sports including the Canadian Football League, Major League Soccer, and Canadian Premier League. She said an announcement on the government's plans to bid on hosting FIFA World Cup games and the Commonwealth Games in Hamilton will be made on Oct. 30.

She said that extra money has been earmarked for provincial sport organizations to help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and that funding details will be released at a later date.



Going to be pretty brutal both for players' development and for the watchability of the games; hockey without bodychecking simply isn't the same sport.  It'll be next to impossible to accurately scout the OHL if this ends up happening.  Wonder if we see any of the better players decide to try the Matthews route in Europe as a result.

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Yeah I saw this back when it came out. I think if that's the case, they may as well not have a season at all. If I'm a player for an OHL team there, I'm not interested in wasting a year of development on a game of hockey that's nothing like the NHL.

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No-touch icing everything.


When Quebec said that they wouldn't give the Q bailout money unless they banned fighting I kind of got it. We know that fighting is unhealthy. Governments sponsoring such behavior could potentially open them up to litigation down the road. I don't agree with any of that, but I get it. 


This is just bonkers and so out of touch. 

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NO body checking OMG, guess this isnt hockey anymore ....wow R O F L


Hockey used to be a great sport, but now no bodychecking , its going down the $&!#ter ( hope NHL dont follow suit or i am going to cry hard inside )


"Opps sorry didnt mean to touch you, i am sorry...please next time ill let u stickhandle past me"

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3 hours ago, Vanuckles said:

Defenseman retrieving puck from corner: *sees opposing forward coming in on forecheck*


Dman: "Excuse me, where's my 6 feet of social distancing?"

Next thing you know we're going to have a game misconduct for not coughing into your elbow.

Game's going to be so different esp. without face-offs, what are we playing ringette now?

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16 minutes ago, Gaudette Celly said:

The "medical" (but completely unscientific and arbitrary) tyranny continues... and people love it.  Truly astounding how most embrace it so eagerly and give their God-given freedoms and liberties over without nary a whimper.

Talks about "unscientific", then mentions "God".

  Post loses all credibility in two sentences.:picard:

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