Kitchener Rangers season cancelled as OHL announces shutdown for 2020-21 amid pandemic
KITCHENER -- The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) says that the recent extension of the province’s stay-at-home order has made it ‘impossible’ to hold a 2020-21 season.
“We have worked tirelessly with the Province and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the past year on different scenarios and different windows of opportunity but the reality is the conditions in Ontario have never been right to start and complete an uninterrupted, safe opportunity for players to showcase their skills,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch in a news release on Tuesday.
"It's been a hard day," said Joe Birch, the Rangers' Chief Operating Officer. "It's a tough day for everybody in the OHL community."
Birch said the team will meet virtually on Wednesday to discuss next steps.
"We will support them in reaching their player development needs, both from a physical perspective and really trying to support them mentally right now."
Birch said they will refocus on training and the upcoming OHL draft.
He also said the organization is struggling because of a lack of revenue, but the team is operating as best as it can to make sure staff and players are safe and healthy.
This announcement comes just weeks after the OHL and the provincial government reached a return to play agreement. The plan laid out a shortened season played in hub cities following rigorous COVID-19 protocols.
The OHL says that before that announcement could be made, COVID-19 conditions worsened dramatically with the emergence of variants.
“We owe it to our players and their families to be definitive. We were committed to return and play this season, but our hopes and desires have been dashed by the cruel realities of COVID-19.”