The WHL announced Thursday that the 2020 regular season will officially begin on Friday, Dec. 4 and will feature a full slate of 68 games, followed by four rounds of playoffs.
That would likely mean playoffs starting at the beginning of May and the Memorial Cup likely running into the summer.
“Regardless of our start date, the WHL is committed to playing a full Regular Season and Playoffs in 2020-21,” stated WHL commissioner Ron Robison. “In our discussions with the government and health authorities, it has become apparent that additional time is required to ensure we can return to play in a safe and responsible manner. Our WHL health and safety protocols have been well received by the health authorities but we have several key issues that we will need to reach a resolution on in the coming months.”
Scheduling and further planning will rely on decisions from each of the six provincial and state jurisdictions in each WHL territory. Questions especially remain when it comes to what will happen with teams based in the U.S., where the COVID-19 pandemic remains widespread and uncontrolled and the Canada-U.S. border closed to travel.
The WHL season traditionally starts in late September and ends in late March, with the league playoffs running into mid May, followed by the Memorial Cup at the end of May.
The Ontario Hockey League announced their Return to Play plan on Wednesday — with a 64-game schedule and 16-team playoff format, with the season ending Apr. 29. The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League expected to do the same in the near future.