The province has told the Ontario Hockey League that all physical contact, including body checking, must be banned for the upcoming season.
The reasoning behind the decision is to prevent the spread of COVID-19, since the league has said it will not be playing in a bubble like the NHL and NBA.
But that begs a simple question: how can this be done?
The provincial government makes it sound easy, and for minor hockey leagues it is. But for the OHL, which is a very fast paced, physical league, it isn’t.
These players, some of whom are in their 20’s, have been checking and playing a very physical game sine they were kids. How does the provincial government expect them to simply up and stop old habits?
It’s one thing entirely for a minor hockey league, such as Oshawa Minor Hockey, to ban body checking, or physical contact of any kind, but for the OHL it is unrealistic.
There are also some legitimate problems for the OHL when starting their season due to the pandemic.
There are three teams in the U.S., which has been hit hard by COVID-19, with 7.83 million cases, and 215,000 deaths.
There are also two teams, the Mississauga Steelheads and Ottawa 67’s, located in pandemic hot spots in Ontario.
Durham Region has seen 2,388 cases of the virus, and 181 deaths so far.
It’s clear that something needs to be done to help prevent the spread of the virus, but to completely ban all physical contact is not only impossible, but isn’t the right way to handle this situation.
The province and the OHL need to come together to think of a better solution if there is to be a hockey season this year.