Calgary Hitmen, WHL plan for 24-game year once restrictions are lifted
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That followed the league’s board of governors meeting Friday.
The WHL also noted that “it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”
“The Western Hockey League is committed to providing a season for WHL players,” commissioner Ron Robison said in a prepared statement. “This commitment ensures WHL players will receive the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the system and continue to pursue their hockey goals in the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players.”
The WHL didn’t announce what kind of scheduling formats or playoff models are being considered for an abbreviated season. The full 68-game schedule would have normally commenced in September, but COVID-19 has forced the league to push back its start-date on multiple occasions.
The recent target date of Jan. 8 was abandoned after most sports activities across Western Canada were shut down due to the latest COVID restrictions.
If the current re-start plan is successful, it appears unlikely that fans will be permitted to attend games — at least in the early stages. The league initially stated that it would require a minimum of 50% capacity for the season to be financially viable, but that stipulation is no longer carved in stone.
The WHL’s plan for Jan. 8 included a format that limits each team to competition within in its own division. The Hitmen would be part of a five-club Central Division comprised entirely of the league’s Alberta teams, including the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Red Deer Rebels, the Lethbridge Hurricanes an the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The WHL has been idle since March 12, when the 2019-20 campaign was suspended with just a few games left on the schedule.