After reports emerged on Wednesday night that the Ontario Hockey League is forging a return plan, details continued to trickle out as it pertains to their plans for a 2021 season. With many players currently overseas while waiting to hear back from their respective teams, getting them back to Canada safely is a top priority should a season be played.
Due to COVID-19 protocols as well as travel restrictions in certain areas, there are an abundance of measures that have to executed, which the league is examining with the provincial government.
After rumours started surfacing Wednesday night that OHL clubs had started recalling players, this was refuted Thursday morning, as it’s not the reality for every team. Jake Jeffrey reported that those heading home are due to their temporary visas, some of which have expired.
Players in both the Central and Midwest Divisions have confirmed to The Puck Authority that they are yet to receive any formal instructions on returning home from Europe.
“We are still waiting on instructions when to come back”
One player who’s skating overseas said on Thursday he’s still waiting to receive guidance from his hockey club. “I haven’t heard anything for sure. There have been rumours about the season starting on April 2-4, but nothing is set in stone yet,” he shared in a statement.
There are many variables still in the way of an actual season getting clearance to start, but OHL commissioner David Branch released a statement to shed some light on where they’re at on Thursday morning.
In doing so, he said in an update, “First and foremost, the Ontario Hockey League is anxious to return to play and eager to get our players back on the ice to drop the puck on a 2020-21 Regular Season. As we have for many months, we continue to work hard toward ensuring a safe return to play for everyone.
We are encouraged by our ongoing discussions with Government and Public Health agencies, but have not yet arrived at an approved Return to Play framework for the coming season.
The League will share more information with our players, families, staff, billets and tremendous fans as a finalized plan for a safe return to the ice becomes available.”