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QMJHL shuts down until Jan. 3

Nov. 6, 2020—Mooseheads’ Justin Barron outmaneuvers Charlottetown Islanders’ Patrick LeBlanc around the Halifax blueline early in the first period Friday.
ERIC WYNNE/Chronicle Herald
Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Justin Barron stickhandles against Charlottetown Islanders forward Patrick LeBlanc during a Nov. 6 QMJHL game at the Scotiabank Centre. - Eric Wynne

The QMJHL will use December to regroup.

League commissioner Gilles Courteau announced on Monday the Christmas break will now run from Tuesday until Jan. 3 to give everyone a chance to come up with a revised plan for the second half of the season.

“The current situation with the pandemic in the regions in which we operate makes it extremely difficult to play games,” Courteau said in a news release. “With the holidays just around the corner, the provinces in the Maritimes have restricted access and travel, while red zone restrictions in Quebec do not permit us to play.”

The strategy the league settled on leading into the season was to create three divisisions based on geography and then have each of the six teams from each grouping play each other exclusively for the entire year. That worked well in the Maritimes up until about two weeks ago when cases started spiking in different cities across the region and the Atlantic bubble burst for the first time since its creation in late spring.

League leadership had to reasses much earlier in Quebec, where the virus infiltrated teams in the central part of the province almost immediately. A handful of teams in the more rural regions of Quebec were able to continue mostly uninterrupted with a modified schedule, while seven others eventually created a bubble event in Quebec City that just concluded successfully on Sunday after 10 days.

"Congratulations to all the @QMJHL teams who participated in the protected environment event at @centrevideotron you can be proud of all of you for making this event a 100% success #proudQMJHL," Courteau posted in a tweet.

The Halifax Mooseheads were able to play 16 games before pausing their season last week, while the Cape Breton Eagles got 15 games on the books. The Rimouski Oceanic and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were the only other QMJHL teams to complete 16 games, while every Maritimes Division team played at least 13.

The Sherbrooke Phoenix had the lowest total in the league with just five games played and the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Quebec Remparts only had eight each. The QMJHL season is usually 68 games long but was shortened to 60 for this year as part of the league's original COVID-19 plan. 

The Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League have not yet played any games and are tentatively hoping to open operations in January.


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