CHL Cancels 2020 Memorial Cup

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.

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 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.