The inevitable was announced Thursday afternoon as the Gatineau Olympiques rolled towards Abitibi.
C ike elsewhere, the QMJHL season was suspended until further notice.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic requires drastic measures. To ensure the safety of its players, supporters, volunteers, staff and the general public, the QMJHL had no choice but to interrupt its activities. The end of the regular season and the playoffs are in jeopardy, but the Olympics continue to hope that they will participate in the spring tournament.
“In the circumstances, it was the right decision to make,” said President Norm MacMillan, who was on the Olympics coach when he spoke with Le Droit. The players understand the situation, but I don’t know if they realize it could be the end. They keep a positive spirit. For our part, we still hope to continue our season and participate in the playoffs. ”
For the Olympics, the premature end of the season is not catastrophic. They had already completed 94% of their season. They still had two local regular season games. 16th overall, they were likely to face the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the first round of the series. Faced with the number one team in the country, it was difficult to envisage more than two playoff games at Guertin this spring.
“If it were to happen, for us, it’s better than it is happening this year. On the other hand, I have a very special thought for the clubs which have invested everything to win this year in our league. I sympathize with the clubs in Chicoutimi, Sherbrooke, Moncton, Rimouski and Cape Breton. I have a lot of grief for the Ottawa 67’s. A lot of work and sacrifice has been made to get there, but I still hope that we can continue later. When? No one knows, but the league authorities will talk to each other every day. ”
When the coach turned around in La Vérendrye park, the players were brought back to Gatineau, where they were joined by their host families. For now, all players will stay in the region to continue their school programs as long as the schools remain open. The situation could change quickly. There will be no training on or off ice.
The Olympics will await instructions from the league for further action.
“Don’t panic. You have to go there 24 hours at a time. In China, when they closed the city of COVID-19’s main home, they regained control within a month. We were faster here. Maybe it will take less time with us? Even if we are at the bottom of the ranking and fighting for our place in the playoffs, we would like to continue. Several files will be studied by Monday. Several scenarios will end up on the table to save the season, ”added MacMillan.
With regard to the Memorial Cup tournament in Kelowna slated for the end of May, the Rockets’ organization has indicated that it has room to delay the tournament until mid-June if the situation demands it.
The end of the Gee Gees …
Almost all the unimaginable leagues suspended their operations Thursday, but it was not yet the case of the Canadian University hockey championship in Halifax. The quarterfinal round started on Thursday with two games, but the tournament was canceled late Thursday following Hockey Canada’s instructions to end all sanctioned activities. The Ottawa Gees were scheduled to play against the Acadia Axemen on Friday. Nova Scotia has been spared COVID-19 so far. The matches were played in front of 10,000 spectators at the Scotiabank Center, but the fear was that supporters of visiting teams would bring the virus to the province.
Junior A, Junior B
Finally, the Central Junior A League (CCHL) and Eastern Ontario Junior B League (CCHL2) playoffs were also suspended indefinitely on Thursday, as required by Hockey Canada.