The following is a listing of some of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on ice hockey across the world.

International Tournaments[edit | edit source]

The 2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships (along with lower divisions),, the 2020 IIHF World Women's U18 Championship (along with the lower divisions)  the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics (men's and women's) 2020 Women's Ice Hockey World Championships (top level, as well as Divisions II-A, III-A, and III-B) were held  prior to the outbreak reaching a pandemic state. The Champions Hockey League would finish its season on February 4th. The IIHF Continental Cup would be completed on January 12th.

The International Ice Hockey Federation would end up cancelling the 2020 IIHF World U18 Championships (along with lower divisions) , 2020 IIHF World Championship (top division) 2020 Women's Ice Hockey World Championships (Divisions I-A, I-B, II-B, and IV).

On March 21st the 2020 IIHF World Championship would end up being the last event on the international hockey calendar to be cancelled for the 2019-20 playing season.

On July 3rd Hockey Canada announced that the 2020 World U-17 Hockey Challenge was cancelled.[1]

North America[edit | edit source]

Professional[edit | edit source]

The National Basketball Association would be forced to cancel the balance of it's regular season on March 11th when a member of the Utah Jazz was announced as testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Due to the National Hockey League teams sharing 11 arenas with NBA teams and some other teams in the American Hockey League, and the ECHL being in the same situation many leagues across North America started to cancel their seasons completely or suspend their seasons in the hopes of resuming play after the pandemic had declined. The Columbus Blue Jackets (on March 11th) and San Jose Sharks (and subsequently the San Jose Barracuda who also play at the SAP Center at San Jose) (on March 10th were already under direction from local authorities to have their home games played in front of no spectators or be forced to move their home games. Neither team would end up having to play any games as the league suspended play within a few days. On March 18th it was announced that a member of the Ottawa Senators tested positive for COVID-19. On March 21st a second member of the team would also be reported as testing positive. Half of the reported cases among NHL and NBA players as of March 21 (8 of 16) appear to be tied to playing at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Four members of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, two members of the Los Angeles Lakers and the two Ottawa Senators all had played games in the arena.

The National Women's Hockey League's 2020 Isobel Cup championship game was postponed on March 12th on the eve of the championship game.

The Southern Professional Hockey League, Federal Prospects Hockey League, and Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey would all announce on March 12th that their remaining game and playoffs were cancelled for the season.

The NHL would work with the NHLPA on trying to get the season restarted. By early July reports circulated that a playoff tournament would possibly be held over involving 24 of the 31 teams in the league. Arenas in Edmonton and Toronto were reported to be the host facilities for the western and eastern playoff series respectively.

On July 28th the Southern Professional Hockey League announced that the league set a target date of mid-to-late December for the start of their 2020-21 regular season.[2]

United States[edit | edit source]

In late August the NCAA released the follwing “Outside Competition: Current student-athletes whose institutions will not be playing hockey during the fall semester will be permitted to participate in non-collegiate, amateur competition on an outside team during the fall 2020 term (subject to school and conference approval). These student-athletes may compete on an outside team while remaining enrolled in their NCAA institution, which typically would not be allowed.”[3][4]

American Junior[edit | edit source]

The United States Hockey League would announce that their regular season would be suspended with the hope of having playoffs.

The North American Hockey League would announce that they were suspending play on March 12th. The league would announce they were cancelling their playoffs as well on March 17th.

The North American 3 Hockey League, Eastern Hockey League (both leagues), Western States Hockey League, and United States Premier Hockey League (and it's three junior level leagues).

On May 20th the Western States Hockey League announced that it was going dark for the 2020-21 season. The league had nine teams join the United States Premier Hockey League for the 2020-21 season about a month earlier.[5][6] A tenth team would join the North American 3 Hockey League shortly after the season cancellation was announced.[7] The league was down to nine teams at this point including the Valencia Flyers who's future is in question as the Ice Station Valencia which had the same ownership as the team permanently closed after financially struggling prior to the pandemic with the pandemic shutdown being the breaking point.[8] leaving the future of the team undetermined.[9]

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts initiated its' third phase of a reopening plan for the state which started on July 6th. Under the revised plan higher contact sports such as ice hockey were not being allowed to restart at this point in time with no timetable set for when they would be allowed. Over 25 junior teams are affected by this announcement including teams in the North American Hockey League, North American 3 Hockey League. the National Collegiate Development Conference, the United States Premier Hockey League, and the Eastern Hockey League.[10]

Also on July 6th it was reported that travel visas to the United States were being cancelled as well as appointments to file the paperwork to obtain a travel visa citing the levels of the outbreak in the United States as opposed to most countries in Europe.[11]

American Collegiate[edit | edit source]

The Ivy League had announced that it's members would have to play it's remaining games eventually leading the Harvard and Yale men's teams to forfeit their quarterfinal series in the ECAC Hockey playoffs. The National Collegiate Athletic Association had originally announced that the basketball and hockey tournaments were to be held in empty arenas. Shortly thereafter the NCAA cancelled all winter sport championships as well all spring sports for the academic year.

The 2020 NCAA Women's Ice Hockey Tournament, 2020 NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Tournament, and 2020 NCAA Division III Women's Ice Hockey Tournament were all suspended in the middle of the early rounds.

The 2020 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament would be cancelled by the NCAA on March 11th. The conference tournaments were all cancelled as well by this announcement.

Bowdoin College announced on June 22nd that the college will not be having students on campus for the fall semester. This would cancel fall sports and delay the start of winter sports until January 2021 at the earliest.[12] The University of Massachusetts-Boston would make a similar announcement within a few days.[13] On July 1st Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced that fall sports were cancelled and that the decision on winter and spring sports would be made in a timely manner, likely indicating that hockey will start in January at the earliest.[14]

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts initiated its' third phase of a reopening plan for the state which started on July 6th. Under the revised plan higher contact sports such as ice hockey were not being allowed to restart at this point in time with no timetable set for when they would be allowed. Nearly 50 NCAA ice hockey teams are based out of the state between men's and women's teams. Atlantic Hockey, ECAC Hockey, Hockey East, the New England Women's Hockey Alliance, the Northeast-10, Commonwealth Coast Conference, New England Hockey Conference, New England Small College Athletic Conference, Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference as well as independent programs for Anna Maria College would all be affected by this decision.[15] The original plan had allowed for the resumption of hockey in the state as rinks were already preparing for the return under the new guidelines when the change was announced in what appears to be a last minute change due to a spike in states where many of the restrictions had been completely lifted. The last minute change was not too widely known as several programs were scheduled for practices or scrimmages at rinks and the players were told games were not allowed under the first part of the third phase or reopening. (I live and work in on the South Shore in the greater Boston area and have heard these as first hand accounts from a rink worker and a couple players that have come in to my place of work over the few days immediately following the reopening. --Dtalbot (talk) 09:16, July 9, 2020 (UTC)) The state would late allow the rinks to re-open in October but would place restrictions requiring players to come into the arena in uniform with no access to a locker room and be required to wear a mask at all time including while playing.

The border between Canada and the United States is likely to remain closed until a vaccine is available for widespread use. Canadian players usually make up a sizable portion (approximately 20% in Division III[16] and 30% in Division I[17]) of the rosters of NCAA programs in the United States.

On July 1st the Ivy League announced that all sports were cancelled to the end of the fall semester leaving ECAC Hockey with half of its' teams in both the men's and women's conferences not starting play until the beginning of January at the earliest.[18]

On July 8th in what may be the most glaring indirect hint of things to come Pac-12 member Stanford University (a non-ice hockey playing university) announced it was cutting 11 of its 36 varsity programs permanently citing a $25 million budget shortfall due to the pandemic.[19]

On July 16th the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference announced it was canceling all fall sports calling into question when and if the men's ice hockey schedule will be played[20] On the same date the Northeast-10 also announced the cancellation of all fall sports.[21]

On July 20th it was announced that the State University of New York Athletic Conference had made the decision to cancel or delay all sports until January 2021 at the earliest.[22]

On July 20th it was announced that the Friendship Four Tournament which was scheduled to be held it Belfast, Northern Ireland was cancelled. The Army Black KnightsMercyhurst LakersQuinnipiac Bobcats, and Sacred Heart Pioneers were schedule to participate in the tournament.[23]

On July 24th the United Collegiate Hockey Conference announced that the conference will delay the start of the 2020-21 playing season until January 1st provided it is safe to do so at that time.[24]

On July 28th it was announced that the New England Hockey Conference announced that the men's and women's schedules will be postponed for the balance of 2020 and will re-access the situation in January.[25] The conference would announce the cancellation of both men's and women's hockey for the 2020-21 playing season.[26]

Around the beginning of November the six New England states and New Jersey announced a ban on interstate youth hockey games for the foreseeable future.

Canada[edit | edit source]

Canadian Hockey League[edit | edit source]

The Major Junior tier Canadian Hockey League and its' three member leagues announced the following on March 12th:

"The Canadian Hockey League and its three regional leagues, the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League, take the health and safety of our players, fans, volunteers, staff, and general public very seriously. CHL President Dan MacKenzie with Commissioners David Branch, Gilles Courteau, and Ron Robison have been monitoring the situation in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) including what local, provincial, and federal health agencies have recommended. Following consultation with medical professionals and meetings today among the CHL Executive Council, and regional league Board of Governors, the CHL announces that the balance of the 2019-20 season and all hockey activity shall be paused immediately until further notice."[27]

Hockey Canada's announcement the following day would end up cancelling the 2020 Memorial Cup as well as the balance of the OHL, QMJHL and WHL regular season and playoffs.

A proposal was announced on July 21st that would possibly have the three US-based teams in the Ontario Hockey League be based out of a hub in Toronto thus eliminating the need for players to cross over the boarder to play games and for European players to have to cross into the US as there is a mutual border closure between the European Union and the United States. The Canadian government ha possibly indicated it may approve this idea as the US based players would only have to cross the border once and likely have to be quarantined prior to the start of OHL play. The same report indicated that the same approach may be used for the Western Hockey League's US based teams possibly playing out of one or two hub cities but the fact that the WHL has to deal with four sets of provincial governments as opposed to one in the OHL.[28]

The Gatineau Olympiques are facing being homeless for the 2020-21 QMJHL Season as the Robert Guertin Arena is being used as an emergency COVID-19 shelter for potential up to mid-2021.[29]

Canadian Junior Hockey League[edit | edit source]

The Canadian Junior Hockey League (and it's 10 leagues) announced Thursday that effective Friday, March 13, all games and hockey-related activity involving its member clubs have been cancelled, until further notice, due to the continued threat of the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic as well as potential exposure and contamination of its players, team staff members, on and off-ice officials, volunteers and fans.[30]

Along with this and Hockey Canada's announcement it would cancel the 2020 Centennial Cup as well as the 2020 Anavet Cup, 2020 Doyle Cup, and 2020 Fred Page Cup.

On May 8, 2020 the Elliot Lake Wildcats of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League announced they were taking a leave of absence due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.[31]

The British Columbia Hockey League announced on July 16 that it was intending to start play beginning December 1st which is the date the provincial government believes that arenas will be able to hold 50% of capacity. This statement would also call into question the starting date for the Western Hockey League, Kootenay International Junior Hockey League,Pacific Junior Hockey League, and the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.[32]

At the end of July, the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and the Ontario Junior Hockey League announced that they were taking a leave of absence for the 2020-21 season due to the closure of the Canada-US border. Being the only US-based team in the league, the team's players were to be dispersed to the other teams in the league for the 2020-21 season.[33]

On July 28th the Superior International Junior Hockey League announced a tentative November 14th starting date.[34] Some sources indicate the league's two US-based teams, the Thief River Falls Norskies and the Wisconsin Lumberjacks may end up taking the season off due to border crossing issues.[35]

Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays were denied a waiver giving them the ability to host games at Rogers Centre for the abbreviated 2020 season. The plans included bringing teams into Toronto Pearson Airport and being bused directly to the Toronto Marriott City Centre Hotel and remaining isolated from the public. With a decision on this magnitude American based junior teams are likely to have to find a temporary location in Canada to play in (if that option is even allowed by government officials in Canada), sit out the season entirely, or try playing in other leagues for the season. However the eight Major Junior teams have many Canadian players on their rosters and would likely be unable to play in the US this year unless players could change teams so they could play in their home countries.

On November 2nd, the Superior International Junior Hockey League announced that the two US-based teams, the Thief River Falls Norskies and the Wisconsin Lumberjacks will not participate in the 2020-21 season due to the border closure.[36]

On November 12th, the Manitoba Junior Hockey League announced the league was suspending play until at least the end of 2020 due to the province going on a heightened state of alert as well as teams allegedly violating the league's return to play protocol.[37]

Junior B & C[edit | edit source]

The Assiniboia Southern Rebels of the Prairie Junior Hockey League announced on June 14 citing the unknown involving the COVID-19 pandemic requested and received a one-year leave of absence.[38] Around the Canada Day holiday the High River Flyers and Medicine Hat Cubs both of the Heritage Junior Hockey League both announced they were sitting out the 2020-21 season citing fundraising and ticket sale issues as the main reasons.[39] The Ontario Hockey Federation released a series of steps for the return of ice hockey to its memeber leagues traditional 5-on-5 contact hockey will not be allowed until stage 4 of their plan Stage 3 has 5 phases with only the fourth and fifth phases mentioning 5-on-5 hockey and those are practices and training procedures and that is for non contact hockey. It is likely that any of their leagues won't be able to start until December 2020 or January 2021 at the earliest. The trigger for step four will be the availability of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virius. The OHF oversees the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, Provincial Junior Hockey League, and the Greater Toronto Hockey League among others.[40]

The Buffalo Regals of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League would announce they would be sitting out the 2020-21 season due to the border being closed.[41]

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced that the 100 Mile House Wranglers, Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Spokane Braves would be sitting out the 2020-21 KIJHL season due to issues related to the pandemic.[42]

Hockey Canada[edit | edit source]

The end of the 2019-20 playing season[edit | edit source]

On March 13th Hockey Canada would issue the following statement:

“Without question, this is an unprecedented period of difficulty for the sports world. The health and safety of all participants in sport, including players, coaches, staff, officials, fans, family, volunteers and the general public, is of the utmost importance to Hockey Canada.
After much consultation with the Hockey Canada membership, our chief medical officer and public health officials, the Hockey Canada Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including our national championships, until further notice, effective Friday, March 13, 2020.
We recognize the tremendous effort that has been put forth all year by individuals across the country as they participate in Canada’s game. Although it is difficult to process the hockey season ending abruptly, we feel this is the best course of action in order to do our part in keeping our country safe.”

The statement would pretty much well end the season in Canada.

Return plans[edit | edit source]

On June 4, 2020 Hockey Canada released the following statement

CALGARY, Alta. – The following is a statement on behalf of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer, on the return-to-hockey process in Canada.
“On March 12, the decision was made to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities across the country. This was a difficult decision, but one made to maintain the health and safety of all participants and the general public amid growing concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Currently there are no Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities being conducted, and we are working with our Members on their return-to-hockey plans. After ongoing discussions with the board of directors, our chief medical officer, the 13 Members and public health authorities across the country, it has been determined that the best approach for a return to hockey in Canada is to allow each Member the opportunity to work with authorities in their respective regions to determine when it is safe to return to the ice in areas that fall under their jurisdiction. We expect the timing of each Member’s return to hockey will be different, but will be based on the advice of their government and public health authority.
It is imperative to note that we are not ready to return to the game across the country. As we have seen in respect to flattening the curve, the impact of the pandemic varies from region to region. Permitting our Members the opportunity to decide on an appropriate return-to-hockey timeline will allow them to work directly with public health authorities to determine when it is safe to return while also implementing specific safety measures and rules within their associations and leagues.
Hockey Canada knows the game will look quite different, and the return will happen at different speeds and at different times across the country. Be assured, we continue to work on our multi-faceted return-to-hockey plan that includes health and safety regulations, communications and seasonal structure. As with so many people across the country, we look forward to returning to the game when it is safe to do so, and we will support our 13 Members as we continue to work towards getting back on the ice.”
For more information on the Return to Hockey plan, please visit

University[edit | edit source]

Hockey Canada is the sanctioning body for U-Sports which is the top University level of play in Canada. Both the 2020 University Cup and 2020 U-Sport Women's ice hockey championship were part way through the first round of their tournaments.

The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference and Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Women's leagues were in the middle of their conference tournament and the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League had not yet started its tournament and all three tournaments were cancelled with the announcement.

On June 8, 2020 U Sports[43] along with Atlantic University Sport[44], Canada West Universities Athletic Association[45], and Ontario University Athletics[46] all announced that the fall semester athletic competitions were cancelled indicating that ice hockey and other winter sports will not start until January of 2021 and that the situation will be reviewed in a timely manner. Canada West's release set a deadline of October 8th for a decision whether to begin play in January.

Senior[edit | edit source]

The 2020 Allan Cup was cancelled prior to all of the teams qualifying. Two playoffs series to decide the final spots in the tournament were in progress when play was suspended. Many leagues were in the middle of their playoffs at this point and series were just cancelled. Provincial playoffs in Alberta and Saskatchewan were in progress and were subsequently cancelled. Senior playoffs in British Columbia were cancelled prior to starting.

The WOAA Senior AA Hockey League had cancelled its playoffs on March 12th

Midget and Youth Level[edit | edit source]

The Midget AAA national championships, the 2020 Esso Cup and 2020 Telus Cup, were also cancelled by the announcement as well as the remainder of the regional qualifiers and local league play.

Youth and adult leagues would also be cancelled as a result of the announcement

Non-Hockey Canada Leagues[edit | edit source]

The three junior leagues (Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League, Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League, and Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League) that play outside of Hockey Canada supervision all cancelled play on March 12th.

Asia[edit | edit source]

The Asia League Ice Hockey would cancel its playoffs on February 26 prior to the start of the league's playoff final.

Europe[edit | edit source]

The Kontinental Hockey League would have two teams Barys-Nur Sultan (March 16th) and Jokerit Helsinki (March 14th) withdraw from the playoffs due to the outbreak. The league would cancel the Gagarin Cup playoffs within a few days.

The Austrian Hockey League would suspend play of March 3rd during the quarterfinal round of the league playoffs.

The United Kingdom based Elite Ice Hockey League would cancel it's season on March 13th about two weeks prior to the end of the regular season.

The Deutsche Eishockey Liga suspended play on March 12th prior to the start of the league playoffs. The DEL2 (second level) would suspend play for the season on March 10th. The leagues would not have any promotion or relegation between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

The Liiga (the top level league in Finland) would suspend play on March 13th prior to the completion of the regular season. The league would use point percentage to figure its bids for the Champions Hockey League and the Spengler Cup for the 2020-21 playing season.

The Bulgarian National League would finish its season prior to the need for a shutdown.

The Slovak Extraliga would end its season on March 11th prior to the start of the playoffs. The second level Slovak 1.Liga would suspend play after games of March 9th during the league's semifinal round.

The Swedish Hockey League would announce a suspension of play in early March but would later cancel the playoffs for the season and not have any teams relegated or promoted as the last two place teams usually play a series to determine which team is relegated to the second tier HockeyAllsvenskan.

The Switzerland based National League A would hold the last two rounds of the regular season without spectators prior to suspending play for the season on March 12th. The league would announce that no teams will be promoted or relegated for the 2020-21 season.

The Polska Hokej Liga would cancel it's playoffs sometime after games of March 7th.

Australia/New Zealand[edit | edit source]

The Australian Ice Hockey League would announce on March 12th that it was suspending their playing season until further notice. The league's season usually runs from mid-April to August when the league holds the four team single elimination Goodall Cup playoffs.

The New Zealand Ice Hockey League would announce on March 19th that it would be suspending it 2020 season until further notice. The league's schedule usually runs from mid-May until late July.

References[edit | edit source]

  9. Public Closure FAQs (March 25, 2020).
  41. [1]
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