Today the three Canadian junior hockey leagues, the OHL, WHL and QMJHL have announced the cancellation of their playoffs, and therefore the Memorial Cup.
The #CHL and regional leagues have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 Playoffs and @CHLMemorialCup.— CanadianHockeyLeague (@CHLHockey) March 23, 2020
We look forward with hope that next season will provide new opportunity to celebrate and that the #MemorialCup may be presented.
FULL 📰: https://t.co/Jq67zZGpDv pic.twitter.com/K1VfeLdzN1
That would mean the Memorial Cup, scheduled for late May in Kelowna, B.C., will not be awarded this season. That would be the first time in the 102-year history of the trophy that it isn’t presented to the national junior hockey champion.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 23, 2020
This ends the season, and in some cases the junior career of multiple Leafs prospects. For a full rundown on where the prospects ended their seasons:
Toronto Maple Leafs prospects see their season end
The CHL/NHL transfer agreement is up for renewal this summer, but assuming there are no changes to the age eligibility rules for playing pro hockey out of the CHL, the following Leafs prospects could play on the Marlies or Growlers next season if they are signed to contracts:
- Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (previously signed to an ELC)
- Zach Bouthillier (rights expire on June 1*)
- Filip Kral (rights expire on June 1)
- Riley Stotts (rights expire on June 1)
- Kalle Loponen (drafted from Europe, he will be eligible even though he won’t be 20)/
*As of now, we don’t know if this rights expiration date will be changed, since the date of the draft is unknown.
For teams like the Peterborough Petes, home of Der-Arguchintsev and Nicholas Robertson, this is a huge blow. They and other contenders spent draft picks loading up for a playoff run that will now never happen.
For draft-eligible players, they lose the ability to make a good impression and move up the draft ranks. And for drafting NHL teams, they have less information about draft prospects to judge them from.
For the junior teams, none of whom pay their players, they will lose large amounts of ticket revenue and their only period of sustained TV coverage.
For the players and the fans of junior hockey, the best part of the season will never happen.