The BCHL is looking at a handful of options to get teams back in action this fall.
In an AGM call last week, the junior A league’s board of governors discussed several options presented by its Return-to-Play Task Force. The group was formed in early May to research and develop scenarios for resuming play in a safe way while working with provincial health authorities.
Different scenarios have different start dates depending on government restrictions.
BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb said the league is interested in ways to ease the financial burden on teams for the coming season and put protocols in place to promote the safety of the BCHL’s players, staff and fans.
“We support our provincial health authorities and will comply with the guidelines put in place to make sure the safety of our players, staff and fans are always at the forefront,” he said. “The BCHL has been around for 59 years and we look forward to continuing that tradition for many years to come. Our league provides numerous jobs for residents of B.C. as well as education opportunities for hundreds of players, including 188 university and college student athletes last year alone, with many more expected in the coming months.”
Hockey Canada also announced over the weekend that the Hockey Canada Registry (HCR) will open today (June 1), as scheduled. This means that the Chilliwack Chiefs and other BCHL teams are allowed to start making acquisitions to build their rosters for the 2020-21 season.
“Obviously, this isn’t a normal offseason, but with the HCR opening up on schedule, it will be business as usual for our teams as they prepare,” said BCHL Executive Director Steven Cocker. “The BCHL is fully planning on playing this fall, as soon as we receive approval from Hockey Canada and the Health Authorities.
“The opening of the HCR is another step in the right direction for a return to play. Our Return-to-Play Task Force has been working diligently to ensure we have not left a single stone unturned as it relates to contingency plans.”
The league is also continuing discussions with the provincial government, including conversations with Premier John Horgan and Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Tourism, Arts & Culture.
The BCHL hoped to receive financial aid from the government to help weather the COVID-19 storm.
“We’ve had lengthy discussions with Minister Beare and her office since sending them a letter in early April,” said Graham Fraser, Chairman of the BCHL Board of Governors. “Upon their request, we submitted a detailed return-to-play plan and they are in the process of reviewing it.”
“Our call with Premier Horgan was also positive. He understands the importance of the BCHL to its 18 communities, as well as the entire province. Premier Horgan, along with Minster Beare, heard our request for financial support and both understand our position. We will continue these discussions with the provincial government in the coming weeks.”
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