Hockey East is moving towards a 2020-21 season.
While nothing has been decided officially, the league’s Return to Play Taskforce has been meeting for much of the past month, coming up with various suggestions and recommendations for the league and its member schools as it plans to launch the 2020-21 season. At the moment, many campuses are still locked down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The taskforce, according to sources, has representatives from several different areas, including medical personnel, as well as people associated with facilities, equipment and other areas related to running athletic events on campus as well as team management.
The taskforce will make its recommendations to the athletic directors in the coming weeks, and the ADs will determine the next course of action.
While Hockey East teams are largely at the mercy of what the schools decide in general, as it relates to handling the pandemic, the close proximity of member schools to each other provides some hope that games could be played.
The return to play could happen as early as November. Some officials believe that an early-January return is more likely, but there is a growing hope among league coaches that a start date around Thanksgiving is doable. Some schools are planning to close after Thanksgiving break, administering final exams online and then returning to class after the holidays in late-January or early-February, which gives the league a window of almost three months with no other students on campus, essentially creating a “bubble”-like scenario.
The league announced last month that it intended to play this season. Some Hockey East programs have been cleared from their school administrations to begin on-ice activities next week.
Junior leagues, such as the USHL, have announced plans for a November start. The NCAA also announced last week that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, players will be allowed to enroll at an NCAA school and play for a junior team. Previously, a player would have to withdraw from his/her school in order to play for a junior program.