BC Hockey League commissioner Chris Hebb says the league is still on track to begin regular-season play in early December. (BCHL photo)

BC Hockey League commissioner Chris Hebb says the league is still on track to begin regular-season play in early December. (BCHL photo)

BCHL still on track to begin regular season in December

Commish hopeful that league can “slide right into the regular season” after successful preseason

The BC Hockey League is still on track to begin regular-season play in early December, according to league commissioner Chris Hebb.

Last week, Hebb – a longtime Semiahmoo Peninsula resident and former executive with both the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs – told Peace Arch News that after the league’s return-to-play plan was approved by a number of governing bodies, including the provincial health authority, the league’s return has largely gone according to plan.

Unlike some junior-hockey teams in B.C. that have not yet received approval to play in their home rinks due to municipal-enforced COVID-19 restrictions, Hebb said all BCHL teams are practising and playing exhibition games in their own facilities.

As well, Hebb said he was “not aware of any teams” that are having to put their gear on either at home or in the parking lots of their arenas, as has been the case for both minor and junior hockey teams in some B.C. cities.

“Everybody is in their own rinks. The issue is that there are no fans, and there are limitations on the number of people in the rink, based on the province’s mass-gathering order (of 50 people or less),” he said.

“Some rinks are allowing more people than others, but that’s a decision at the municipal level. But we’re all playing.”

A day after Hebb spoke to PAN, the league announced the cancellation of two weekend exhibition games between Lower Mainland teams after one member of the Surrey Eagles tested positive for COVID-19. However, follow-up tests of all players and team staff came back negative, leading the league to determine it was an “isolated incident.”

The unnamed player has been in quarantine since testing positive, and “is doing very well,” Eagles general manager Blaine Neufeld told PAN earlier this week.

The positive test did not affect any team’s exhibition games beyond that one weekend, and has not affected the league’s plans moving forward.

“We put together a return-to-play task force back in April or May, and we’ve had conversations with Hockey Canada, the CJHL, BC Hockey, the provincial health office, ViaSport.… We arrived at a workable plan for us to come back,” Hebb said.

“And we feel like if we do a good job through this exhibition schedule, we’ll just slide right into the regular season with very little in the way of issues.”

Though there have been instances in recent months, most notably on social media, in which some members of the league have criticized aspects of the provincial and federal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic – everything from suggestions that the Canada/U.S. border be opened immediately to anti-mask/lock-down sentiment – Hebb said the entire league, from owners on down, is on board with the league’s health-and-safety plan that has been put in place.

“Our return-to-play task force has received full endorsement from our board on our plan. There may be some owners who have personal opinions, but as members of the BCHL, everyone is aligned on this,” Hebb said.

“They’re all on board.”

The new rules include full face-shields for players and masks for coaches on the bench.

“(Masks for coaches) was a recommendation, it wasn’t mandatory, but we’re being extremely responsible,” Hebb said.

One hurdle the BCHL hasn’t been able to overcome is the inclusion of the Washington-based Wenatchee Wild into their 2020-21 schedule. The Wild won’t be able to compete until the border is open, Hebb said.

“That’s the tough part of all this,” he said.

The recent news that new rapid-testing procedures could potentially reduce or eliminate quarantine times for travellers has given Hebb hope that at some point, Wenatchee could return to the fold.

“Right now, the only way we can see Wenatchee taking part in the BCHL this year is with the border getting reopened. But you never know, we could have a vaccine. Also, we just heard about the rapid-testing that the government is doing… maybe they implement that at the borders, which would allow Wenatchee to get back in the mix.”

Should anything change with regard to travel between the U.S. and Canada during the regular season, Hebb said the league would adjust on the fly to get the Wild onto the schedule.

“We’ll invite them in and re-jig the schedule if it’s feasible. We’ll address that if the border opens,” he said.



sports@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BCHLSurrey Eagles

Just Posted

Shane Ertmoed’s application for Escorted Temporary Absences was granted following a hearing May 4, 2021. (File photo)
Surrey child-killer an ‘average’ risk to sexually reoffend: Parole Board

Written reasons behind approval of Shane Ertmoed’s request for escorted absences shared

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from May 2 to 8, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Active COVID-19 cases in Delta down to six-week low

169 cases May 2 to 8; overall number in Fraser Health down for the third week in a row

Trucks line up for food during a drive-thru event on the PNE grounds last May. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/CP)
Drive-thru food truck fest coming to North Surrey Secondary lot

School a ‘great location – high traffic, very visible, and a very large parking lot’

Volunteers unload 1,000 meal kits at the Cloverdale Community Kitchen May 12. CCK was gifted the meals from Goodfood and distributed the entire truckload to the needy in less than 24 hours. (Photo: Submitted)
Cloverdale Community Kitchen distributes 1,000 meals in less than 24 hours

Meal kits went to charities in Surrey, Langley, White Rock

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Lorna Seip touches up the mural on the wall at MRSS, working with students from the Rainbow Club. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Rainbow club puts message of inclusion at Maple Ridge School’s main entrance

Maple Ridge secondary grad says SOGI symbols are powerful

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Most Read