Have you noticed that the WHL has been very quiet recently about its 2020-21 regular season, which has a tentative opening of Dec 4th (just eight weeks away)?

The BCHL has exhibition games this month in preparation for a season to begin Dec 1st.

Both leagues obviously want fans in the stands even at a greatly reduced capacity but it does not appear they will get the go-ahead from BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry.

In an exclusive interview with Brendan Pawliw of Vista Radio/mypgnow.com that was conducted on Tuesday (Oct 6), Dr Henry did not sound too promising about having spectators at league games this season.

“We have been in discussions with a number of professional or amateur sports leagues about how to do sports safely and the challenge we are going to have as we go into the next few months is that we don’t have large groups of people together,” said Henry.

“The order of no more than 50 people still stands and I know that the WHL and the BCHL are very dependent on gate receipts to keep the league going but it’s just too dangerous during this pandemic to have people in that kind of environment so I don’t see spectators being a large part of the season this year.”

“I know that’s a difficult thing for these leagues and I know the government is looking at ways to support them or postpone seasons until we have a vaccine, so it remains ongoing with these difficult discussions,” she added.

The Spruce Kings will have no fans at their home pre-season game on Oct. 25th against the Merritt Centennials at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (RMCA).

Prince George City Council voted 8-1 (only Councilor Murry Krause opposed) this week to re-open the RMCA to the Spruce Kings and other user groups starting later this month at a cost of $250,000.

Council also unanimously decided to re-open CN Centre for the PG Cougars, other user groups and indoor walkers with a price tag estimated at $150,000.

While it appears the Spruce Kings and the BCHL are prepared to at least start the season with no fans, will that be the case for the Cougars and the WHL?

In a pandemic year, it can be difficult to make the right choice.

The QMJHL has started its season but already one of its league teams, Blainville-Boisbriand Armada now has 18 positives tests in its organization.

Another team, the Sherbrooke Phoenix has at least eight positive tests after playing Armada in weekend back-to-back games.

It looks like the OHL will have to alter its game if the season is going to go ahead after Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, announced on Wednesday that if the league wants to play this season, it will have to ban bodychecking and fighting.

“It would be safe to say that body contact unless it’s incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19. That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play,” MacLeod told the media.

Dr Henry is very perceptive about what is taking place outside of B.C. and Canada.

“I can tell you that I am concerned about some of the things that are happening in the US in particular. We look at the Bundesliga in Germany where they did have some fans in for games but those plans have been pulled back now that they are starting to see increases in cases again”, said Henry.

“This winter is going to be a very challenging one for us as we are going to have to take more precautions and make sure we are finding that balance so that we are not giving opportunities for this virus to spread in our communities.”

It looks like the WHL will have to make a choice: either go ahead with a financially challenged season that will have many restrictions or wait until next year and try again.

Although the clock is ticking, there is still time before a final decision needs to be made.

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For a second straight year, PG Cougars goalie Taylor Gauthier was overlooked in the NHL Draft.

28 WHL players were chosen on Tuesday and Wednesday and the 19-year-old Gauthier was not one of them despite being the Cougars MVP with credible stats of a 0.917 save percentage and 2.93 GAA on a last-place team.

When Gauthier gets a chance to play in his 4th league season, motivation should not be a concern.

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who was so intimidating and fearsome that his own catchers were terrified to go to the mound to talk to him, has passed away at 84. In fact, I hear that after he left St. Peter’s Gate and crossed over, you could hear playing the Rolling Stones’ ‘Hey, You, Get Off of My Cloud!’

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Bob Gibson was a very fierce competitor, and if you showed him up, or even hit a home run off him, his reputation was that you might be hit by a pitch the next time up. Someone once asked him, well after he retired if he really threw at people’s heads. Bob’s response “Nah, heads move around too much. I always went for the ribs.”

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Minnesota got eliminated by the Houston Astros — the Twins’ record 18th consecutive playoff loss. In fact, the Twins have been swept so often they’ve been named an honorary curling sheet.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT

A streaker who disrupted a high school football game in Florida avoided security by climbing over a chain-link fence. The bad news is police found him. The good news is the school choir has a new soprano.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to [email protected]