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COVID-19 forces cancellation of CHL playoffs, Memorial Cup

The Canadian Hockey League season has been completely cancelled because of the virus
Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images

The Memorial Cup, which brings together the league champions from the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and the Western Hockey League, will not be awarded this season.

After the Canadian Hockey League announced the cancellation of the remining regular seasons in each of the three leagues last week due to COVID-19, the CHL announced on Monday evening that the annual tournament has also been cancelled in addition to playoff action in all three leagues.

The CHL issued a statement on Wednesday evening announcing the decision.

“We have continued to monitor the latest updates from all public agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played,” the statement read in part. “Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.”

The annual event was scheduled to run from May 22 to May 31 in Kelowna, B.C.

The tournament will continue its regular rotation between the three leagues and move to Ontario in 2021.

The Soo Greyhounds and Oshawa Generals are in the midst of preparing presentations to host the tournament next season.

In a prepared statement, OHL commissioner David Branch called the cancellation “a very difficult decision.

“In times like this, the safety of our players, officials, staff, fans and the general public is paramount.,” Branch also said.

“The environment that we currently find ourselves in is much more important than the game of hockey, and we all have a part to play in getting through these difficult times together. At the appropriate time, when it is safe to do so, our players look forward to returning to the ice in our passionate hockey communities to assist in the overall healing process.”

QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau spoke of the decision being “one of the toughest” the league has ever had to make.

“But as the situation continued to evolve over the past couple of days, it became almost impossible to consider a scenario in which the playoffs would be played,” Courteau also said. “These are extremely challenging times for our society and this situation is bigger than hockey and that’s the reason why we have to make responsible decisions.”

WHL commissioner Ron Robison also issued a statement on the decision on Monday.

“Nothing is more important to the WHL than the health and safety of our players, officials, staff, and fans,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “Without any ability to predict as to when it will be safe and responsible to return to play, the WHL has made the difficult decision to cancel the WHL Playoffs and the balance of the 2019-20 season. All of us at the WHL will continue to do our part in battling this virus so that we may be in a position to enjoy more WHL hockey.”