With the cancellation of the 2019-20 season well in the rear-view mirror, the WHL is looking ahead to the 2020-21 season. Lobbyist registration documents show the Western Hockey League registered as a lobbyist in B.C. seeking guidance from that provincial government on return to play guidelines on May 11th. The move is an important one as it allows the league to actively engage in conversations with B.C.’s provincial government on what the return to play looks like for the WHL in that province. It is not clear if a meeting between the two sides has taken place.
On May 14th, just three days after the WHL registered as a lobbyist in B.C., B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix was speaking on the Mike Smyth Show on CKNW in Vancouver saying the WHL will have unique challenges to overcome in the province as the league relies heavily on spectators, something the BC Government doesn’t currently plan to allow.
It is also worthing noting that the WHL has not yet taken these steps in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Washington State, or Oregon. B.C. has been actively engaged with the NHL on return to play guidelines, so if NHL hockey resumes you can expect those guidelines would be similar if not exactly the same for the WHL resumption in September. The discussions appear to be focused solely on the logistics for a return to play and do not include a request for provincial government funding. Both the BCHL and KIJHL have requested funding from B.C.’s provincial government.
All this comes as the Canadian Hockey League has registered to lobby the Canadian Federal Government on a request for federal funding. It is not known exactly what sort of funding the league is pursuing as no meeting details were available at the time of this writing. On May 8th, the Canadian government announced $72 million in funding for Canada’s amateur sports sector, which the CHL would almost certainly qualify for.
As of the time of this writing, neither the CHL or WHL had responded to a request for comment on the ongoing conversations with governments. We will update this story if either league comments on this story.