The Ontario Hockey League has announced that it has a plan to return to the ice in December.
The league announced Wednesday that it will play a 64-game schedule with a 16-team playoff with the Memorial Cup being held in either Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie in mid-June, 2021.
North Bay Battalion General Manager, Adam Dennis, is relieved to know when he’ll be able to begin his first full season in the role.
“You forget how long it’s been since we’ve had organized hockey and to have a day kind of makes it real. I think we all understand that there’s a lot of factors at play. But I think to make that push towards a little bit of normalcy is nice for sure,” Dennis said.
Dennis said that he found out about the league’s plan on Tuesday when he was briefed with the other general managers. He says that he was quick to spread the message to his team.
“We got on a call with our team right away. We were on a Zoom call with them yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon just to fill them in with the news, let them know what’s ahead, give them some resources for training and things like that,” he said.
Many of the details with the league’s return are still to be ironed out, such as if fans will be allowed in arenas to watch, and how the league will handle border travel with its three American-based teams. OHL commissioner, David Branch, ensures that safety will be the top priority.
“We are looking forward to getting back to playing hockey, but are committed to ensuring that we do so in a manner that is safe and healthy for our players, officials, families, billets, teams, staff, fans, and the community,” said Branch in a statement. “Players will remain at home until the season resumes and teams will work closely with them on both their academic studies and overseeing their on and off-ice development. In addition, the League will liaise with our facilities to ensure that our venues are safe for our return to play.”
When the 2019-20 season was halted due to the pandemic, the Battalion was four points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with six games remaining. In the offseason, North Bay had the top draft pick in both the Priority Selection and Import Drafts.