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In the midst of uncertain times and player safety concerns, the WSHL announced via press release on May 26 that the 2020-2021 season was cancelled and the league would be preparing for a 2021-2022 return to play. With a majority board vote in favor of cancelling the season, players, teams and families have had to bear this terrible news.
Former WSHL Powerhouse Jordan Sgro stated, "All great things have to come to an end. This is what happens when they lose the Wayne Gretzky of the Dub-S".
It's no question that this announcement is going to cause players taking their advancement to college, pro and higher levels of junior hockey seriously to look elsewhere for the 2020-21 season.
The USPHL has already announced a welcoming to a number of WSHL organizations ready to find a new home, including the Fresno Monsters, San Diego Sabers, Anaheim Avalanche, Utah Outliers, Southern Oregon Spartans, Las Vegas Thunderbirds, Pueblo Bulls and Northern Colorado Eagles.
Just like anything else, when it comes down to it, junior hockey is business. Every league taking on a 2020-21 season is going to have to address concerns with the possibility of players, coaches, staff, and fans potentially contracting and spreading COVID-19. Society will dictate the response globally to the virus -- however for now, leagues will have to take into account the risks associated with return to play.
The WSHL is one among the masses figuring it out, and making tough decisions stating, "This is the most burdensome and painful decisions ever made at the WSHL Board of Governors level, however, we strongly feel that continuing operations in the current climate is not safe or conducive to the success of our member players, nor teams."
As painful and unfortunate as it is, players and teams remaining in the WSHL will have to sit this one out. Being one of the very few competitive junior hockey leagues in the Western United States, players unwilling or unable to move out East will have to make arrangements to continue training, practicing and playing for a 2021-22 season return.