By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
There won’t be any junior hockey for the rest of 2020 as the OHL has announced the league will return next year.
A recent announcement from the league states there will be a 40-game season beginning on Feb. 4, 2021, and teams will report for training camps on Jan. 23.
The season will run through May 8 and teams will primarily play against other teams in their geographical location.
According to Oshawa Generals General Manager Roger Hunt, this could include teams such as the Peterborough Petes, Kingston Frontenacs, Mississauga Steelheads, and others.
However, he says he isn’t sure which teams they will be playing yet.
“We haven’t been given that information yet,” he says.
The league also announced there will be a new, shorter playoff format consisting of three rounds with eight teams, with the first round being a best-of-five matchup.
However the shortened schedule and smaller playoff pool don’t deter Hunt, who says he really likes the look of his team this year.
“Our team goes in cycles, and we’re in a really good spot in our cycle. I feel really good,” he says.
According to Hunt, he and the Generals know some changes will be made to the schedule this year, noting Major League Baseball’s 60-game season as an example of another league which successfully changed its format.
“Once we get started, the number of games will probably become a little bit irrelevant, and it will get back to normal,” he says.
He simply wants to keep his fingers crossed and is hopeful for the beginning of the season, despite initial plans to begin in December.
He notes the change in schedule doesn’t really do anything to the Gens’ offseason plans as well.
“Our offseason’s off the pot already,” he quips. “We should be in season now, but our high school players are either doing stuff online in their homes, or they’re in their home’s schools. It’s a year like never before as it is.”
Ultimately, Hunt says it’s a tough time for everyone, and communities are finding out how important their OHL teams are to their local culture.
“I’ve got to believe that in Oshawa, our fans… are missing seeing us play, and the faithful season ticket holders are missing seeing us play,” he says, adding other OHL cities like London, Owen Sound, Peterborough, and many others are missing their teams as well.