Ontario sport minister: Details of OHL hub cities, bubbles being worked on

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TORONTO — Ontario's sports minister says that the details of hub cities and bubbles for a shortened major junior hockey season in the province are being ironed out.

Lisa MacLeod says she's more confident than she has been in the past that there will be an Ontario Hockey League season.

The OHL hasn't had any games this season due to health and travel restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

MacLeod says that having referees and officials committed to a bubble is one of the issues currently being address.

She also says that making sure the athletes are safe and healthy before arriving in a hub city is also a concern.

MacLeod says there will be an announcement on Wednesday for financial aid for the OHL.

The OHL is the only one of Canada's three major-junior hockey leagues not to begin a 2021 season.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League started close to its regular October start date, but the season was suspended in late November before resuming in January. The Quebec teams are playing in hubs, while those in Atlantic Canada are playing in home arenas.

The Western Hockey League now has approval for all four divisions to play with some divisions in hubs and some in home arenas. The season started Feb. 26.

The OHL will have to figure out what to do with its three American teams — the Saginaw Spirit, Flint Firebirds and Erie Otters — with border restrictions coming into play. The WHL's five American teams are playing exclusively against each other.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press