The CHL is likely on-track to cancel the playoffs per Bob McKenzie of Sportsnet. Hockey operations were suspended earlier this month over concerns related to the current global health crisis. The news broke earlier Monday evening.
It should come as no surprise but it appears the @CHLHockey (WHL, OHL, QMJHL) does not see a workable path forward to resume play anytime soon and the expectation is the 2020 playoffs will soon be cancelled.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 23, 2020
CHL to Cancel Playoffs
There was hope that the playoffs could continue in modified form even if the rest of the regular season wasn’t going to happen. That will not occur as reported rates of illness continue to rise. Public health rightly remains the top priority of the Canadian junior leagues and so the playoffs are off the table.
This cancellation will mean that the Memorial Cup typically awarded to the champions of the OHL, QMJHL and WHL will not go to a new home this spring. The trophy will remain with the 2019-20 champion, Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec League. This is the first time in 102 years the trophy will not be presented to a new champion. That fact alone should signify just how strange things are right now.
What is Next for the CHL
This announcement is a major blow to any team in the running to win the Memorial Cup this season. Most Canadian teams have a very small competitive window before the best players leave for Europe or the NHL. Teams like Portland of the WHL or Ottawa in the Ontario League will have to hope play resumes as normal in 2020-21 for a fresh run at a title.
The league is doing the right thing when it comes to the current crisis. It isn’t fun to cancel something as important as the playoffs but health concerns rise above mere sporting events. The NHL could follow suit and cancel its playoffs but the current pandemic is not fully played out yet. We do not yet know the future of hockey in 2019-20 but the CHL cancelling something could be an important signal for the rest of North America.
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