WHL announces January 8 starting date

If all goes well, the puck will drop on a brand new WHL season on January 8.

The league’s board of governors made that announcement on Wednesday saying the league continues working with health authorities in the Western Canadian provinces and American states that call the league home.

As a part of those conversations, it has been agreed that all games will be divisional with the Swift Current Broncos coming back to the Eastern Division to play games against Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Brandon and Winnipeg.

It is not an ideal situation, but it is one that leaves Regina Pats General Manager and Vice-President of Hockey Operations John Paddock happy.

“It’s a real positive to have a date.” Paddock said. “The players, parents and fans now have a date as do the clubs.  We’re all really happy about that.”

All players are to report to their respective clubs after the Christmas break to start getting ready for the January 8 start.  When it comes to how long that season will be, Paddock does not know.

“I don’t think that has been determined yet because there are still a lot of variables out there.” Paddock said. “It could be a full-season, it could be a half-season.  There’s a lot of things up in the air yet.”

The league has also hired Dr. Dhiren Naidu of Edmonton as its chief medical advisor.  Naidu, who served as the NHL’s medical director for the playoff bubble in Edmonton, will work with health authorities in the provinces and states and implement any measures deemed necessary to protect players, staff. officials and fans during the pandemic.

A final determination has not been made as to whether fans will be allowed to attend games as that will be subject to the approval of health authorities in the different jurisdictions.

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