More Patience is needed.

The BCHL, like many other hockey leagues, had hoped to be playing by now, however, those plans remain on hold.

The Prince George Spruce Kings have sent their players home for the Christmas holidays and remain in the dark about their return date.

The Spruce Kings were left with little choice since their roster has 14 players (including two on loan from the PG Cougars) that are either aged 19 or 20.

In the short term, provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry has banned all adult (19-plus) team sports entirely, a decision that directly impacts the BCHL since 48 per cent of its players are either 19 or 20.

Youth teams (18-under) have been reduced to a practice-only mode.

“The fact that the 19 and 20-year-old players can’t practice with us, she has grouped all of those players in with the rest of adult hockey players in the province and I think she missed the boat on that one,” said a disappointed Spruce Kings general manager Mike Hawes in an interview with mypgnow.com.

“We’re not angry. We’re just confused,” BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb told the Vancouver Province. “I think it’s an unintended consequence. Please understand that we’re not trying to admonish Dr Bonnie Henry. We think she’s done a great job. We think this is a case of broken telephone.”

“While the current restrictions only directly affect athletes age 19 and up, there are unintended consequences for our younger players as well,” said BCHL executive director Steven Cocker in a news release. “Although they are still allowed on the ice, the fact remains that half of their teammates are not, which essentially means their teams and the league are forced to pause operations until restrictions are lifted.”

Henry was asked on Monday at her media briefing about the BCHL and those “unintended circumstances.”

“It was not unintended. It was a recognized risk. We talked with viaSport, we talked with the leagues and really, it is about the fact these leagues travel, that we are seeing transmission and we are seeing transmission in the U.S. and other sports teams as well. We have been seeing transmission events happening and right now, it is just too risky,” Henry said.

The BCHL continues to look at different scenarios when (or if) they finally get the green light to play early in the new year.

“We remain committed to exploring every option available to us to start our season safely and as soon as possible, including presenting the concept of a BCHL hub. We look forward to getting things going again in January with all of our players back on the ice,” said the chairman of the board, Graham Fraser.

There has been speculation a bubble format could be used for league games in Penticton.

“I am not going to comment too much on where that process is at but it is certainly a concept that the Return to Play Taskforce, which I am a member of, has had some in-depth conversations and is an idea we are considering,” stated Hawes.

Former Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan, who sets the gold standard for writing about junior hockey, noted in his blog Taking Note that he obtained a copy of a proposed plan to put the BCHL teams in a Penticton bubble for a seven-week regular season followed by playoffs.

Drinnan reports that “a two-week quarantine period would be followed by a regular-season of 20 to 24 games and a seven-or 10-day playoff tournament. One model worked up by the league would have the quarantine period run Jan. 15-29, with a two-day transition into the bubble, the regular season going Feb. 1 through March 22, and playoffs running March 23 through April 2.”

According to Hawes, the BCHL will keep a close eye on the Edmonton bubble for the world junior hockey championship that is scheduled to run December 25th to January 5th.

“There are a lot of ideas and concepts in that hub and bubble that if we were able to move forward with one that we would transition into ours and their success can play a big role in our potential plan moving forward. It might come down to that, and that is going to be determined by the Provincial Health Office and Dr Bonnie Henry, and what she decides come January 8th is going to dictate a lot,” said Hawes.

It will be four weeks until the next update regarding restrictions.

While hockey is important, this break is needed.

The 2020-21 season may end up almost being a write-off but with a vaccine on the way, the outlook appears promising that the 21-22 season can return to a full schedule.

Just a few weeks ago even that possibility looked like a long-shot.

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

The Vancouver Canucks have kicked anthem singer Mark Donnelly to the curb because he’s an anti-masker. Guess that rules out an appearance on The Masked Singer.

*Patti Dawn Swansson, The River City Renegade

LSU says they will self-impose an NFL bowl ban this season over improper booster payments. LSU is 3-5. This is like any team two or more games under .500 (and not in the NFC East) saying they will self-impose a playoff ban.

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

For the play that allowed the Raiders to score the game-winning TD on a 46-yard pass with 13 seconds left, fired NY Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had called a Cover T—T stands for Trevor (Lawrence).

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Star guard James Harden, who reportedly wants out of Houston, didn’t appear for the Rockets’ individual workouts last week as the opening of training camp looms. Harden apologists, fittingly enough, believe he was travelling.

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

IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT

After watching Philadelphia’s backup QB come in for Carson Wentz against Green Bay, I suggest a new motto for the Eagles. Love Hurts.

*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 hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca