2022 World Juniors Canceled Mid-Tournament

According to a report by Adam Steiss on IIHF.com and the NHL Network, the 2022 World Junior Championship has been canceled midway through the preliminary round.

This comes after two more games were to be forfeited today. The Russian team had a positive case of COVID-19 which would have seen Russia forfeit their game against Slovakia. In addition, Czechia was placed in quarantine earlier today and would have forfeited their game versus Finland.

Those games join the United States forfeiting their game to Switzerland yesterday after two positive cases on the American team.

With that, Steiss wrote that the tournament’s COVID-19 Medical Group as well as the IIHF Medical Committee and the IIHF Council have all made the decision to cancel the remaining 2022 World Junior tournament “to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”

Steiss quoted IIHF President Luc Tardif as saying: “Together with the teams, we came into this event with full confidence in the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the IIHF, the LOC, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant forced us to readjust our protocols almost immediately upon arrival to attempt to stay ahead of any potential spread. This included daily testing and the team quarantine requirement within positive cases were confirmed.

“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work. Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”

Steiss shared a joint statement from Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney: “Hockey Canada has worked tirelessly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure it would be equipped to host world-class, international events in a safe and healthy environment. Despite our best efforts, and continually adapting and strengthening protocols, we have unfortunately fallen short of our goal of completing the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship and handing out medals on Jan. 5 due to the challenges of the current COVID-19 landscape.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have always made the health and safety of event participants and the community at large a priority, and given the news that we have encountered positive cases within the World Juniors environment, we understand and support the decision to cancel the remainder of the event. Although we know this is the right decision, we sympathize with all participants who have earned the opportunity to represent their countries on the world stage and that will not be able to realize that dream in its entirety.”

And with that the 2022 World Junior Championship will come to an end. It is a disappointment for fans, of course, but in the long run, this is the best way to go about everything. We need to remember the age of the players participating and that they have long hockey careers (and lives) ahead of them. Putting them in danger now would not be in the best interests of anyone and this is the smart move ultimately.

Hopefully, once again, things will be somewhat back to normal next year as we move towards the 2023 WJC in Siberia, Russia. It is a long way away from now and a lot can happen (good or bad) but with any luck and some work, we can get things back to normal.

Again, this is disappointing for the athletes who are losing out on a chance to represent their country, but ultimately probably the best move for their future health and well-being.

We will be back here later on with coverage of the Devils game at Buffalo tonight. Puck drop is at 7 PM and the game will be shown on MSG+2.

In other Devils-related news, it was reported today by the Devils’ staff on the “Inside the Devils Blog” that, starting on January 10, 2022, all events at Prudential Center – including all Devils games – there is a new vaccine mandate in place as per the City of Newark.

The mandate says that all guests entering the Prudential Center aged five and older “will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Additionally, the city of Newark’s previous order requiring all guests to wear masks throughout events, unless actively eating or drinking, will remain in effect.”

Between January 10 and February 9, anyone going into Prudential Center “must show proof of having received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose. Fans attending events on or after February 10 must show proof of being fully vaccinated (as outlined by the CDC, fully vaccinated is defined as having received the second dose in a two-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or after a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine). Proof of vaccination can be provided via display of an actual vaccination card, a complete picture of the card or an online digital vaccination record, along with an accompanying photo identification for those age 18 and older. Exemptions will be provided to those guests who provide a certification signed by the guest and a licensed healthcare provider certifying that receiving an approved vaccine would be detrimental to the health of the guest and that the healthcare provider has medically advised the guest not to receive any vaccine.”

This is another step in trying to bring some normalcy back to life as we attempt to get the pandemic under control.

AHL All-Star Classic Canceled for 2022

According to a news item on the American Hockey League’s official website (TheAHL.com), the 2022 AHL All-Star Classic has been “postponed” beyond 2022.

The event was originally scheduled for February 6 and 7, 2022 at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec and will not be held this season. The announcement was made by AHL President and CEO Scott Howson.

Howson said that the postponement was “due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Howson was directly quoted as saying: “The Laval Rocket and Place Bell have done an outstanding job preparing to host our All-Star Classic festivities this year. But with the event only six weeks away and faced with ongoing challenges pertaining to health and safety, international travel, and group gatherings, the League and the Rocket organization feel it is in everybody’s best interests to postpone the event. We remain committed to bringing the All-Star Classic to Laval in the future.”

President of Sports and Entertainment at Groupe CH (Laval’s ownership), France Margaret Belanger added: “Postponing the All-Star Classic for a second year is disappointing, but unfortunately unavoidable in the circumstances. This is one of the most prestigious events in the AHL and we look forward to hosting this major event at Place Bell. We are very grateful to our fans and partners for their loyalty during this difficult time. We also want to thank the American Hockey League for their confidence and their collaboration on this project.”

This is the second straight year that the AHL has attempted to bring their All-Star Classic to Laval and the second straight year that COVID has wiped it out. The 2021 event was to be held in the same building but when the 20219-20 AHL season was ended early and the 2020-21 season needed to be readjusted, the 2021 All-Star Classic was a casualty.

The announcement of the cancelation of the 2021 Classic was made in August of 2020, and the 2022 game was immediately awarded to Laval as a make good from the AHL.

Time will tell if the third time is a charm or if the AHL or Laval push things down the road a bit and do not attempt to bring the game to the city next year.