CALGARY—Hockey Canada and 13 districts including Hockey Eastern Ontario have decided to suspend all minor hockey in Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision came after a day-long conference call with the districts and Health Canada.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Tues., March 10, which forced the major leagues – NHL, MLB and the NBA – to postpone their games due to the virus after one player in the NBA tested positive for the virus.
Hockey Canada, along with other minor sports associations, followed suit on Thurs., March 12. The word came down around 7 p.m. when teams were already in the arenas getting prepped to play their games.
The Casselman Vikings travelled to the Barbara Ann Scott Arena in Ottawa and the Embrun Panthers welcomed the Ottawa Jr. Canadians. All were in the process of getting dressed for the game when they were told to undress and go straight home. The North Dundas Rockets and the Bytown Royals series was on an off-day when they were told their games for the next 72 hours were suspended and would have to be postponed.
The next day Hockey Canada decided it would be better to shut down the whole season. This was devastating news to the teams still in the playoffs and especially to the over-age junior players who unknowingly played their last game in their previous outing.
Owners of teams that remained in the playoffs are losing out on the gate revenue, which is one way they could make their money back with the larger crowds for the playoffs. Hockey Canada did say there may be compensation going into next season but were unclear what it would look like.
By the end of the weekend, almost every event planned with moe than 100 people was cancelled or postponed. Gyms, parties, casinos and other businesses have been shut down due to the threat of COVID-19. Some businesses were asking employees to work from home and some set up stations for washing hands and did extra cleaning to be allowed to remain open.
It is clear however, that the hockey season is now over, without the declaration of champion-
ships and hype. The latest letter sent from Hockey Canada and Hockey Eastern Ontario said the following: “With respect to the COVID-19 pandemic HEO wants to make sure
that we communicate with our members on what we have learned in the last 48 hours. As reported, the Hockey Canada board of directors, with the support of the 13 members across Canada made a decision to cancel the 2019-20 season. Further to this decision HEO would like to clarify that this cancellation may extend beyond the 2019-20 season and it will be up to the Hockey Canada board to decide when sanctioned hockey activities resume.”
The letter continued, “The activities that are cancelled include all games, playoffs, try-outs, practices, camps, team activities including banquets and team parties, programs, provincial, regional, national championships and any type of board, team, committee meeting as well as AGMs until further notice. HEO will be required to sanction anyone who does not comply with the Hockey Canada decision.
We realize that this situation is unprecedented so HEO will continue to monitor and remain available to deal with any questions and issues that arise. If you have questions, please direct them to info@
hockeyeasternontario.ca and your enquiries will be responded to as quickly as possible. We will keep our members apprised of any new information as it comes forward.
We appreciate everyone’s patience and assistance these past few days and although the decision to cancel the season came upon us very quickly, we are very happy to see the hockey community support the decision for the health and well-being of our membership.
Please note that the HEO offices will be closed for the next two weeks and will evaluate later to see if there is a need to extend. The staff will be working from home but will be available by email or by message on the office phone. Please do not hesitate to contact the HEO staff if you require any assistance.”