As the BC Hockey League awaits the green light from BC’s Public Health Officer and the Ministry of Health, it’s come to light how extensive the communication between the parties has been.
In a document obtained this morning by BCHLNetwork, initial discussions on the 2020-21 season stem back to last July 14.
After numerous revisions and conversations back and forth, the BCHL’s COVID-19 safety plan for the training season was approved by the PHO on Sept. 2. Extended training camps then began around the league, with just practices and training, on Sept. 8.
On Sept. 25, the extended training season began and a total of 89 games was played with two isolated COVID-19 cases. The document doesn’t state what those cases were, but the league did report single cases in Surrey and Penticton in October and November, respectively.
Games were played until Nov. 19, which is when the PHO put in an order restricting travel between health authorities, and restrictions in sports were rolled back to Phase 2, which is physically distanced training and practice.
From hubs to pods
On Dec. 4, the league submitted a proposal to the PHO and Ministry outlining a hub format to play games in Penticton. The proposal included all 17 BC-based teams in one location for an eight-week season.
The idea was that the hub would be protected, including quarantined required entry. The players and team personnel were to stay in hotels, with shuttle service provided to the arena to play games.
11 days later, the league formally proposed the “Penticton Hub” to the PHO, the ministry of Health, and the Interior Health Authority. On Dec. 30, the proposal was rejected in the form it was presented.
One day afterward, the league put forward a proposal for five regional pods, with three pods composed of three teams and two made up of four teams.
On Jan. 20, the PHO and Ministry requested more information and documentation about the pod concept, which the BCHL submitted.
After more revisions, the final version of the “BCHL Pods” proposal document was sent to the PHO and the Ministry on Feb. 12.
On Friday, Feb. 26, the league sent a now-publicized letter to PHO Dr. Bonnie Henry, Premier John Horgan, and other government officials requesting a Mar. 3 deadline – which is today – for an official response to the “BCHL Pods” proposal.
The meaning behind the deadline was to provide certainty for the BCHL’s players. The letter sent last Friday reportedly states that if the “BCHL Pods” proposal isn’t approved by today, a motion will reportedly be prepared for owners to vote to cancel the season.
In her daily briefing yesterday, Henry indicated she still has a number of concerns with the concept of BCHL teams playing and traveling around the province.