WHL hub proposal for Kelowna, Kamloops fails to meet renewed provincial health orders | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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WHL hub proposal for Kelowna, Kamloops fails to meet renewed provincial health orders

The WHL proposed to the province that Kamloops and Kelowna would host as hub cities for a modified season, but the model will not meet current travel restrictions.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Kamloops Blazers

The Western Hockey League was hoping the province would accept its hub model in two Interior cities for the five-team B.C. division, but the provincial health officer said today it's not there yet.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province "absolutely" wants to work with the WHL to salvage a spring season.

"My office received a proposal from the WHL in early January that did not meet restrictions," she said in a press briefing this morning, Feb. 5.

That proposal has Kelowna and Kamloops hosting all division games in a two-city hub model.

She said that a season start is something provincial health authorities want to plan for, as long as current health restrictions succeed at limiting COVID-19 spread.

Unfortunately for the five B.C. teams, the two-city hub model from the WHL does not meet travel restrictions.

Don Moores, president of Kamloops Blazers, said the league has been developing their proposal for months, hoping to hold a modified season. He siad the WHL modelled their proposal from the success they saw in the NHL hub format and the recent World Junior tournament.

"Our priority is to develop our young players so they can grow. That's why it's critical we put on a season so they can progress their career," Moores said. "That's why we've been pushing the provincial government."

The Kelowna Rockets similarly feel a responsibility to their players to get their cold legs back on the ice.

"We're trying to be careful. We don't want to get the player's hopes up because it's out of our hands," Bruce Hamilton, president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets said. "We feel we owe it to them to find a way for them to play this year - to get their careers going."

Hamilton said the players have been mature and understanding during the extended off-season.

While the league is yet to propose a model to the province that will allow for a shortened season, other provinces are on track for pucks to drop before March.

The league has entered into agreements with Alberta Health, but are yet to finalize plans to allow eastern division teams in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to play.

Fans will still have a chance to watch games online through the WHL Live app. It's still in development, but Moores said there's been a "big push" to bring live streaming for league games to fans' devices this season.

As the proposed date for puck drop continues, the league plans to continue to try to meet B.C. health and travel restrictions.

"The WHL remains in ongoing discussions with government and health authorities," Taylor Rocca, WHL spokesperson, said in an email to iNFOnews.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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