The British Columbia Hockey League announced on Friday that the league will not begin play until at least December 1st of this season.
Teams will have the option to host extended training camps from September to November, but the financial implications of having to play in empty arenas made the regular start of the season untenable. From the press release:
“The reality is that, for us to be able to operate, we need to have fans in our buildings,” said Chairman of the BCHL Board of Directors Graham Fraser. “It became clear from our discussions with the PHO that the best way to accomplish this would be to delay the start of our season to give them time to assess the effects of a potential second wave of COVID-19 during flu season.”
The delayed start would align the BCHL with the start of the next NHL season as well, assuming the NHL sticks with their intended December 1 start to the 2020-2021 season.
The BCHL is the first major NCAA feeder league to announce a delayed start to their season. To this point, both the USHL and NAHL, the top two American junior hockey leagues, have stated that they intend to start their season on time, though are still closely monitoring the situation and could be compelled to change before their seasons kick off this fall.
The decisions of these junior leagues may have a direct impact on college hockey this season, as well. With the Ivy League already announcing that they will not play any games until January 1, and other schools potentially following suit, there could potentially be the possibility for incoming freshmen to play the first half of the season in junior hockey before enrolling in college for the second semester.