One day after Minister of Sport Lisa MacLeod said there would be no bodychecking in the Ontario Hockey League this season due to COVID-19, Premier Doug Ford announced no decisions have been made.
The Ontario Hockey League unveiled its Return to Play plan on Thursday, which included a 40-game regular season starting Feb. 4.
On Friday, MacLeod said there would be no bodychecking in games this season to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I’m a hockey player myself, my daughter plays hockey; I don’t have a problem with checking in normal times. We have decided to ban contact sports and combat sports at the moment, and the safe return for all sports is limiting the contact between players," MacLeod told CTV News Ottawa.
The Nepean MPP said several COVID-19 outbreaks among Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams this fall influenced the Ontario Government's decisions to eject bodychecking from hockey during the pandemic.
In a tweet late Saturday night, Premier Ford said the Ontario Government is working with the OHL on plans for the upcoming season.
"We are engaging with the OHL to create a safe return to play plan, which will need to be approved by health experts," said Ford.
"To date no decisions have been made. I would like to see the OHL return as normal as possible with bodychecking."
We are engaging with the @OHLHockey to create a safe return to play plan, which will need to be approved by health experts. To date no decisions have been made. I would like to see the OHL return as normal as possible with body checking.— Doug Ford (@fordnation) November 1, 2020
TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Friday that sources said while there had been a number of discussions between the OHL and the Ontario Government on the return of hockey during the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been no official decision on removing bodychecking from OHL games during the upcoming season.
Sources tell @DarrenDreger that while there has been a number of discussions between the OHL and the provincial government on return to play, there has been no official decision on removing bodychecking from the league: https://t.co/gbfLh3uatU pic.twitter.com/9YOdafiSf1— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) October 30, 2020
CTV News Ottawa reached out to the Ontario Hockey League for comment on MacLeod’s statement that there will be no bodychecking when the OHL returns to the ice.
"Until such time as we arrive at an agreed upon Return to Play protocol with the Government of Ontario, the League will have no further comment on the matter of body contact,” the OHL said in a statement Friday evening.
With files from CTV News Ottawa's Peter Szperling and TSN.ca