SJHL return to play proposal denied by province
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) will not complete the 2020-21 season, after the Government of Saskatchewan rejected its return to play proposal.
The league announced the decision in a release Tuesday.
"A decision by Saskatchewan Government and Health has been made on the submissions that have been before them, unfortunately the SJHL will not be allowed to return to play," the league said in the release.
The league said the province would not grant a return to play, due to the current state of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.
“We were told late yesterday that we were not going to be approved. We had a governors meeting and time was running out on us,” Bill Chow, president of the SJHL, said.
The SJHL confirmed it had submitted a return to play proposal to the Saskatchewan Government in February, based off of the Western Hockey League's hub set up.
The proposal included hosting a hub in Weyburn. The city was willing to keep the ice in until May 15, but with uncertainties surrounding the status of the application, the limited time left to use the rink, and the pandemic, the league decided to look ahead.
“In a combination of a lot of things, we ran out of time. We didn’t have approval and the Covid cases decided to increase,” said Chow.
In the hopes of returning to the rink, players had been self-isolating in their homes, but were informed on Monday that they will no longer be playing.
Head coach of Weyburn Red Wings, Rich Pilon, said that this will have an affect on players and their mental health.
“Every year that they play hockey is one more year that they get to sharpen up their skills to move on to their education. When they feel that slipping away then mentally that is very draining and it’s scary,” said Pilon.
The SJHL said that although they understand the government’s decision, they are disappointed.
“It’s disappointing for the teams, the organization, the coaches and the billets. They are very attached to their community teams and invest a lot of time and effort into themselves and its disappointing for everybody all the way around,” said Chow.
The SJHL said it will focus on returning to play in September, for a complete 2021-22 season.