Not sure how this one got by me, and no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. The Canadian Hockey League announced on March 27 (last Friday) that they have canceled the 2020 Memorial Cup due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes on the heels of the three regional leagues that make up the CHL (the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) canceling the rest of their seasons and playoffs.
CHL President Dan MacKenzie, in a message on the league’s website, said that “eight months ago when [he] stepped into [the] role [he] was excited to be a part of one of hockey’s greatest traditions in Kelowna [set to be the site of the 2020 Memorial Cup] when [he] would have the opportunity to present the Memorial Cup to our league’s best for the 102nd straight year.”
This is a true shame as, like MacKenzie mentioned, the Memorial Cup had been awarded for 102 years uninterrupted. Even the Stanley Cup cannot say that.
But realistically, this had to happen. There were to be no playoffs to rightly determine the league champions and fighting the virus is way more important than hockey right now. You do not want to put any fans, players, officials or others in danger by continuing to play a game for the sake of playing a game.
MacKenzie even said as much in his message on the CHL site. He did apologize to the players who were finishing their junior careers for not getting an opportunity to go out in a good way. But, as he said: “I wish those graduating the best of luck in your next chapters, whether they be in professional hockey or academic fields, that the skills you developed both on and off the ice serve you well in your future pursuits.”
It is important to remember that many players in the CHL do not go on to play pro hockey. Many move on to college and then to normal, everyday lives.
But, again, while it would have been nice for them to get a nice sendoff (be it winning the Memorial Cup or just ending the season with their teams) life is more important than hockey and I am sure that everyone involved – despite all of the hard work that they put in – understands.