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WHL announces adjusted start date for 2020-21 season

The two WHL teams in Manitoba have a start date to look forward to.

Like the rest of the hockey world the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was significant on the CHL with the league pausing the season in mid March and ultimately cancelling the 2020 Playoffs and Memorial Cup about 10 days later.

The NHL is tentatively set for December 1st to begin the 2020-21 season while both the AHL and ECHL have announced December 4th as their re-start plan and it looks like the WHL is following suit.  In mid June they had originally planned for an October re-start but that has been shifted to December 4th.  Here was the release from the Western Hockey League on Thursday:

WHL Release:

The Western Hockey League announced today that it is now scheduled to open its 2020-21 Regular Season on Friday, December 4, 2020.

As part of the WHL’s commitment to the health and safety of its players, officials, staff, and fans, the opening date of the Regular Season remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial / state jurisdictions in WHL territory.

The WHL remains committed to playing a full Regular Season schedule of 68 games, followed by four rounds of Playoffs during the 2020-21 season.

The WHL continues to have regular discussions with government and health authorities on the extensive safety measures the WHL is prepared to take to protect players, staff, and fans, and to address key issues such as spectator capacities and border crossings. By adjusting the start date for its Regular Season to early December, the WHL will have additional time to work with government and health authorities to resolve these important issues.

“Regardless of our start date, the WHL is committed to playing a full Regular Season and Playoffs in 2020-21,” stated WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “In our discussions with the government and health authorities, it has become apparent that additional time is required to ensure we can return to play in a safe and responsible manner. Our WHL health and safety protocols have been well received by the health authorities but we have several key issues that we will need to reach a resolution on in the coming months.”

Which means the two WHL franchises in Manitoba being the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings now have a date to look forward to.

Of course as the WHL puts out in their release this is all contingent on what happens with the current pandemic.