No Bodychecking within the OHL This Yr?
Picture by Terry Wilson/OHL Pictures.The OHL season is not slated to start till Feb. four for the 2020-21 season, however a bomb dropped Friday afternoon when it was revealed that Ontario Minister of Sport Lisa MacLeod confirmed in a speech on the Empire Membership of Canada that no bodychecking can be allowed this 12 months, because of the Covid-19 pandemic.This got here as fairly the shock to the league’s GMs, who didn’t have a heads-up about such a improvement. MacLeod, who was being interviewed on the membership by hockey character Nick Kypreos, cited Covid outbreaks within the QMJHL – which has already begun play – as one purpose for the decree. Gamers from Sherbrooke contracted the virus after taking part in Blainville-Boisbriand, as did two officers who labored the video games between the 2 squads.Now, the officers clearly weren’t bodychecking anybody within the sport and a few OHL GMs are questioning why hitting is MacLeod’s goal.”If it was necessary face shields on helmets, I might perceive,” mentioned one GM. “However for those who’re nervous about shut contact, what about having 15 gamers packed collectively on a bench all sport?”The opposite stunning facet of the information is the timing; assuming all the things holds to kind, the OHL can be one of many final junior leagues in North America to return to the ice: together with the QMJHL, common season or a minimum of exhibition video games have already begun within the NAHL, USHL and a number of other Jr. A circuits in Canada. So much can change from now till February, which is why one NHL scout I spoke to urged endurance: he is taking a wait-and-see strategy to the information.Whereas a non-contact league could sound like a non-starter for OHL franchises, it is value contemplating that the Ministry of Sport might present funding for the league beneath these emergency conditions, the place the season has already been shortened to a 40-game schedule (down from its common 68 video games) and nobody is aware of what number of followers – if any – can be allowed within the arenas when the season begins. The QMJHL has already obtained $12 million from the province of Quebec, for instance, dispersed evenly amongst the league’s 12 Quebec-based groups (maritime provinces, the place the league’s remaining groups are situated, haven’t but adopted go well with).And whereas junior hockey followers would little question welcome their native OHL groups again to the ice with open arms, a sport with out physique contact could be drastically completely different for a gaggle of gamers hoping to play within the NHL within the close to future. From a scouting perspective, how do you measure a participant’s true skills if they do not have to fret about getting hit? There are forwards who largely play on the perimeter proper now, thus limiting their general effectiveness and NHL potential. With no hitting, these children might have a subject day – however any scoring bulges could be short-term. Adjusting to the brand new guidelines would additionally play havoc on the sport.”You higher hope you are on the ability play,” mentioned one GM. “As a result of there’s going to be a whole lot of penalties.”The OHL itself was not anticipating this information as we speak and supplied the next assertion to The Hockey Information: “Till such time as we arrive at an agreed upon Return to Play protocol with the Authorities of Ontario, the League may have no additional touch upon the matter of physique contact.”