The Ontario Hockey League could look quite a bit different when the 2020-21 season begins. On Wednesday, Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod said that the league needs to eliminate bodychecking and physical contact if it wants to hold a safe season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It would be safe to say that body contact, unless it's incremental, will not be permitted as a result of COVID-19," MacLeod said. "That would pose a challenge in terms of how they amend their play."
MacLeod added that the ministry and OHL are constantly communicating regarding the league's return-to-play plan. The OHL hasn't requested any financial support from the province as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It's worth noting that while the majority of the OHL teams call Canada home, Erie, Flint, and Saginaw are in the United States. Those teams would have to cross the border to play the majority of their games during the 2020-21 campaign. MLB's Toronto Blue Jays had to call Buffalo home in the 2020 regular season because the country's government did not want the players in Canada traveling to and from the United States.
The OHL playing the upcoming season is certainly a big deal for the NHL. The OHL has a large amount of prospects that end up being selected in the NHL Draft on a yearly basis. Five of the top 10 picks in this week's draft, including forward Quinton Byfield at No. 2, played in the OHL before being drafted.