The Western Hockey League (WHL) said it has not been approved to return to play in Saskatchewan, despite reports that an agreement had been reached to host games in Regina.
“We remain in ongoing discussions with government and health authorities in Saskatchewan,” the WHL said, in an email.
The Government of Saskatchewan said discussions on the future of the season are underway.
"The WHL submitted a proposal and active discussions have been taking place with public health officials to determine if the league can proceed with a season," the Government of Saskatchewan said in an email.
A report circulated on Wednesday night, stating the WHL had reached an agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan to host a quarantined bubble in Regina, for the league’s Saskatchewan and Manitoba based-teams.
Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors said that report was premature.
“We’re not at a point where we have any approvals for return to play in our own centres or the potential of a hub in one of the East Division cities,” Millar said.
A week go, the WHL was approved by the Alberta government to begin a 24-game season, starting Feb. 26, within the province.
“There’s lots of optimism that we’re going to get our players back on the ice. That’s not to say that there’s still not work to do,” Millar said.
On Wednesday, the East Division general manager’s had a call with WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. Clubs prefer to play in their home rinks, but a bubble option is on the table.
On Jan. 15, the Saskatchewan government announced they would give $3 million to support the five Saskatchewan WHL teams. If the teams need to play in a bubble, Millar says the funding will go a long way.
“It’s a huge help for our teams and probably doesn’t cripple some of our franchises to be able to put this season together,” Millar said. “I can’t wait to get on a Zoom call with our players and tell them that they can get on the road and we’ve got a plan for them to play.”
Millar estimates it will take 12 days from the time the WHL gets approval to play to the time players are back on the ice. Players will have to go through self-isolation, travelling and COVID-19 testing protocols.