Western Hockey League sets Jan. 8 return date
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REGINA -- The Western Hockey League is hoping to start its 2020-21 season on Jan. 8, 2021 if it receives approval from health officials in four provinces and two states.
Originally, the WHL announced an Oct. 4 start date and then pushed it back to Dec. 1.
The league said it continues to work with governments in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon "on obtaining the necessary approvals to commence play."
"The WHL looks forward to continuing work with government and health authorities in our region and will implement any measures that are necessary to protect our players, staff, officials and fans during the COVID-19 pandemic," the WHL said in a media release on Wednesday.
No decision has been made on whether fans will be allowed to attend games this season.
All games this season will be played within the league’s four divisions. The Swift Current Broncos will move back into the seven-team East Division, which will also consist of the Regina Pats, Moose Jaw Warriors, Saskatoon Blades, Prince Albert Raiders, Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice.
The Central Division will be feature the five Alberta based teams, the B.C. Division will have the five teams in that province and the U.S Division will be made up of the five teams from Washington and Oregon.
The WHL plans to have players report to their respective teams following the Christmas break.
The league has also appointed a Chief Medical Officer in Dr. Dhiren Naidu, who recently served as the NHL Medical Director for the Edmonton hub.
"Dr. Naidu will be assisting the WHL with the implementation of its comprehensive health and safety protocols, in consultation with provincial and state health authorities," the WHL said.