The BC Hockey League has made progress with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in its return-to-play plan and a modified 2020-21 regular season should be able to begin soon, Postmedia’s Steve Ewen reported this afternoon.
.@GOBCHL teams have started to tell their players that they've gotten an OK to play. Played exhibition games in the fall but have just practised since November. Hearing quarantine period ahead of games and multiple hubs. Announcement expected tonight or tomorrow.
— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) March 12, 2021
The league and health authorities had continuous dialogue over the last week to 10 days regarding a return-to-play plan after the BCHL board of governors decided to delay a vote to cancel the season.
The BCHL halted play on Nov. 19 because of restrictions put into place by the PHO in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 89 games completed during a training season between September and November.
The Nanaimo Clippers played the most games last fall with 16, while the Powell River Kings didn’t play any. The Kings’ last game was more than a year ago on Mar. 6, 2020.
To be, or pod to be, that is the question
The league’s 17 BC-based teams have begun to alert their players about the approval to play, Ewen reports. He also indicates there is a quarantine period and the return-to-play plan includes “multiple hubs”, which in the BCHL’s communication to this point were called “pods”, located around the province.
According to a report from The Athletic Vancouver’s Rick Dhaliwal, the plan includes five pods and players start a 14-day quarantine tomorrow, which games to follow shortly after.
5 pods will be hosted in:
– Alberni valley
18-20 GMs starting April 2 to May 6. Possible playoff. Players will be tested at front end, then monitored during season. 16 of 17 teams expected to play (no Wenatchee)@GoBCHL @TSNHockey https://t.co/defcjEJzFi
— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) March 12, 2021
TSN’s Farhan Lalji reports the pods are in Alberni Valley, Coquitlam, Chilliwack, Vernon, and Penticton and players will be tested for COVID-19 before each pod starts.
Ewen said that BCHL general managers have started to look for players to fill out their rosters after a number of them left to play in other leagues.
In her daily briefing on Mar. 2, Henry indicated she still has a number of concerns with the concept of BCHL teams playing and traveling around the province.
According to multiple sources, an official announcement regarding the approval is expected in the next 24 hours.