Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ontario Hockey League plans to delay the start of the 2020-21 season and shorten the schedule to 40 games. Now there's talk about making a dramatic change to the game.
Ontario minister of sport Lisa MacLeod has made it clear that bodychecking and physical contact will not be allowed in OHL games this season, citing concerns about limiting the spread of COVID-19.
"Our public health officials have been clear -- prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports is not permitted. We will continue to work with AOHLHockey on a safe return to play," MacLeod tweeted.
The OHL, however, is not ready to make the decision final, intimating that discussions are expected to continue.
"Until such time as we arrive at an agreed upon Return to Play protocol with the Government of Ontario, the League will have no further comment on the matter of body contact," the OHL said in a statement.
MacLeod's announcement was likely influenced by the fact that the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has been touched by COVID-19, with a number of Quebec-based clubs experiencing outbreaks this month.
MacLeod tweeted: "This isn't politics and hockey. It is a global pandemic and we are guided by healthcare policy to mitigate against the spread of a deadly virus."
The 2020-21 OHL season is scheduled to begin Feb. 4, 2021, with training camps opening Jan. 23 and the regular season ending May 8.
--Field Level Media