Greater Toronto Hockey League postpones season due to rapid rise in COVID-19 cases

The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) announced Saturday it is postponing all sanctioned activities until at least Jan. 1, 2021.

The league said their decision is a result of the recent and rapid increase of COVID-19 infection rates in the GTA. The group says they are following Toronto’s chief medical officer Dr. Eileen de Villa’s advice to prohibit indoor sports activities.

“The GTHL Board and its members understood that in the current environment, there could be times that we may have to step backwards in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of players, families and the community” said Scott Oakman, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, in a statement. “Now is clearly the time to do that”

GTHL initially released its “staged” plan to return to playing hockey last month, after having cancelled their season on March 12 due the COVID-19 outbreak. This new staged plan was in line with the public health guidelines, the league said, and was “formulated with the expert advice of medical professionals at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto as well as Toronto Public Health.”

The teams were expected to resume playing Oct. 7.

“There are no easy answers during a pandemic,” said GTHL President Don West in a statement.

“GTHL organizational volunteers and staff have been working hard at creating the safest possible environment but given the current situation, it is time for us to pause for the safety of the players and their families,” West said. 

The league said sanctioned activities include all on-ice and off-ice activities for all levels of minor hockey, including house league and competitive hockey in Markham, Mississauga, Toronto and Vaughan.