VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s health minister is suggesting the puck is set to drop soon in the province’s junior hockey leagues, giving sidelined players hope their season can be salvaged.
Both the BC and Western Hockey Leagues were shut down in November of 2020 due to the pandemic. Junior hockey is proceeding in other provinces and pressure has been mounting to restart the season here in British Columbia.
On Monday, Adrian Dix indicated a return to play plan has been approved for the Western Hockey League.
“Their proposal has been reveiewed, and I think it’s fair to say it’s been accepted,” he said. “We hope that the season will proceed.
A spokesperson for the WHL, however, said this came as news to everyone in the league.
“We have not received any communication from BC Health or the provincial government to indicate that we have approval to return to play,” a statement reads.
Dix confirmed the province’s Junior A league, the BC Hockey League, has also submitted a proposal to get back on the ice.
“They’ve made a proposal, it’s a recent proposal, and public health will be working with the BCHL on that proposal,” he said. .
— Chris Wahl (@wahlsy) March 1, 2021
The comments are being welcomed by the BCHL since its proposal is similar to the one Dix said has been approved.
“We’re hopeful we’ll get some good news ourselves,” says spokesperson Jesse Adamson.
“It’s been challenging for sure. We’re not unlike many other industries that have faced tonne of challenges due to COVID-19 so we definitely have our struggles. It’s no secret.”
A petition was launched over the weekend to try and push the province to speed up the sport’s return, pointing out the toll this extended time out is taking on young athletes.
“As we see all other junior hockey leagues playing and kids from those leagues being scouted and potentially drafted while our BC kids sit on the sidelines we call on John Horgan, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Adrian Dix to allow the BCHL and WHL to return to play before it is too late,” it reads.
“Mental health of youth is something that we feel has not been taken into consideration by our British Columbia elected officials.”