The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) will play their entire 2020-21 season without any physical contact due to safety guidelines put in place by their province’s government.
Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s Minister of Sports, confirmed the decision on Friday.
The OHL has announced that they wish to begin their season in February. Currently, many of the league’s players have started to migrate towards other teams on loan to continue their development during this hiatus.
One of the major problems faced by both the OHL and WHL in a return to play plan is their American teams, a challenge the QMJHL hasn’t had. However, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Eastern Canada as they’ve already had to deal with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks amongst their organizations.
The main question heading into a contact-free situation is how it will affect player development and player evaluations.
How will a power forward make himself valuable to professional teams when he can’t use his talents? The physical type of players are going to be the big losers in this new game.
Will offensive production skyrocket with no contact? It remains hard to believe that a defense will be able to stop skilled forwards like Cole Perfetti and Jack Quinn without playing the body.
Finally, how are NHL teams going to be able to evaluate prospects ahead of the next draft when rules are not the same everywhere? It won’t be fair to judge off only production when players are scoring at ridiculously high paces in the OHL compared to other leagues. It will become complicated to evaluate the development of players.
Can hockey really be played without contact? Will this have repercussions on the development of young talent in Ontario? There’s a lot of questions that will remain unanswered until we see the players hit the ice.
If I’m an OHL player, I would consider boycotting this season to go play in another league. There are many different routes that are offered to players, like Junior A and Europe, that could become more interesting given the situation.
Picture source : USAToday
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