Sport minister says she's 'optimistic' OHL can play with contact this season
KITCHENER -- For hockey fans, the upcoming OHL season took a step closer to "when" than "if" on Wednesday morning.
During an announcement on Wednesday morning, the province's heritage, sport, tourism and culture minister suggested that there was more work to be done, but that she was optimistic about a return to play.
"I’m feeling great right now," Lisa MacLeod said.
"I know that there are still a few outstanding details with the Ministry of Health and chief medical officer of health, but my team is feeling very confident that we've got the OHL to a place where they would be able to safely play with contact, providing certain conditions."
She said further details would be coming in two to three weeks, noting that there may also be financial compensation involved.
"I'm optimistic that they'll get games in, there will be an additional component to this however," she acknowledged.
"Once we would sign off, if the chief medical officer of health is confident, they will need to go to their local medical officers of health just as the NHL and the AHL had to do."
She noted that the process will be lengthy, but not "too lengthy that we couldn't get a season in."
In a statement, the OHL said that it is working on getting players back on the ice safely with MacLeod and the provincial government, but said it would not provide comment until a later date.
The Kitchener Rangers, meanwhile, said they were waiting on direction from the league and could not comment.
CTV Kitchener has reached out to the Guelph Storm for comment but has not heard back.
Region of Waterloo Public Health said it doesn't have any information to share on a possible return to play at this time.
Guelph's top doctor, who is a self-described Storm fan, said the return to hockey and more normal life is important.
"I think it's been one of the things missing from our winter," Dr. Nicola Mercer said. "A lot of people enjoy that. I think there's a difference between bringing hockey back and having people in the arena, in terms of live audiences."