OHL and WHL End 2019-20 Season

The Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League today announced that they were concluding the regular season early in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This means that all three leagues making up the Canadian Hockey League have gone home early for 2019-20 with the Quebec League doing so earlier this morning.

OHL Commissioner David Branch made the announcement about two hours ago after “a meeting with the OHL Board of Governors and consultation with medical professionals.” There were 56 games left in the OHL regular season.

Although they “are continuing to monitor ongoing public health developments regarding COVID-19” they are trying to get the 2020 OHL Playoffs to take place.

Much like the QMJHL is doing, the 2020 OHL Priority Selection (draft) will take place live online on OntarioHockeyLeague.com on Saturday, April 4 at 9 AM.

The North Bay Battalion will have the first overall pick with the four non-playoff teams picking first. The 20 playoff teams will then pick in order of the points they finished with. Thus, the Kingston Frontenacs, with 42 points (the lowest of the playoff teams) will pick fifth and the Ottawa 67’s with 99 points, will pick 20th. All teams in the OHL played an equal 61 games in 2019-20.

On the other side of Canada, the Western Hockey League also ended their regular season for 2019-20. Commissioner Ron Robison said that they too are monitoring “ongoing public health developments regarding COVID-19” and will try to get the 2020 WHL Playoffs going at a later time.

Robison met with the WHL Board of Governors and medical professionals and they decided to cancel what was left of the 2019-20 season – 54 games.

The final standings were based on winning percentage according to the release put out by the WHL. The Portland Winterhawks finished first overall in the league. They will claim the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as WHL regular season champs. They finished with 97 points for a 0.770 win percentage.

The Seattle Thunderbirds were the final team to qualify for the playoffs with 55 points and a 0.437 win percentage.

Sixteen teams will qualify for the playoffs with only the Regina Pats, Prince George Cougars, Tri-City Americans, Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos missing.

As mentioned in the earlier post about the QMJHL, the CHL still intends to contest the Memorial Cup at some point this Spring.

USHL 2019-20 Season Done

The United States Hockey League has decided to cancel their 2019-20 season six days after postponing on March 12.

The decision was made today by the USHL Board of Directors for “best interest of USHL athletes, staff, officials and fans in mind.”

Any playoffs look to be canceled as well. USHL President and Commissioner Tom Garrity told USHL.com that “This decision was not an easy one to make, but was a necessity in order to keep our athletes, staffs and fans in all 16 of our communities safe amid this international health risk. While we believe our product is the best junior hockey that fans can view, we also understand the health of our athletes, employees, fans and communities is more important during this time.”

The press release did mention that “the USHL will announce the 2019-20 season awards in the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, in Russia, the Kontinental Hockey League has suspended play during the Gagarin Cup playoffs because of the pandemic. The recommendation came from the Russian “Ministry of Sport and various regional authorities across Russia” according to the preface to an interview with KHL President Alexei Morozov on the league’s official website published today.

The decision came after the Mayor of Moscow placed “restrictions [on the number of people who could gather at one event.” Moscow clubs Dynamo and Spartak were in the middle of their playoff series and “still had one or two game[s] left to play.”

Since it was hard to comply with keeping fans, players, officials and staff safe while still being able to carry on the game with fans in the stands, they decided to pull the plug temporarily.

KHL team Jokerit of Helsinki, Finland had dropped out of the playoffs due to advice from the Finnish government and the Finnish Health Ministry. Barys of Kazakhstan will also not continue in the playoffs when/if things get going again.

Morozov said that there is a possibility that the season could be could not be finished. He said “the KHL will do everything possible to complete the season as soon as the risks to our players and supporters are gone.”

In addition to all of that, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto is “closed effective Saturday, March 14, 2020.” It is scheduled to reopen April 6, “subject to further notice as management continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation via public health authorities.”