Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf stops a shot during a game against The Thunderbirds on March 8, 2020, at ShoWare Center in Kent. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf stops a shot during a game against The Thunderbirds on March 8, 2020, at ShoWare Center in Kent. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Silvertips players sent home due to coronavirus pandemic

The future of the 2019-2020 Western Hockey League season remains up in the air

Everett Silvertips players are being sent to their respective hometowns, according to Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson.

Two WHL teams, the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars, announced on Saturday night that players were being sent home as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across North America and travel restrictions intensify.

The league suspended play on Thursday for an indefinite amount of time, following in lockstep with the other three Canadian Hockey League (CHL) leagues. The three commissioners of the CHL — Ron Robison of the WHL, David Branch of the Ontario Hockey League and Gilles Courtes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — met Thursday with CHL president Dan McKenzie and determined the season would be temporarily suspended.

Silvertips players were initially advised to stay with their billet families and hang low, according to Davidson on Thursday, but plans changed as the situation nationally worsened.

There were many reasons for players being sent home, Davidson said in a text message, but travel restrictions were one of them.

Everett’s players are from western Canada and the western United States. Each team is also permitted two import players. The Silvertips have Kasper Puutio, from Vaasa, Finland, and Michal Gut, from Kadan, Czech Republic, on their roster.

It’s not certain whether the suspension of play will shorten the season or cancel it completely.

All hockey activities are suspended until Tuesday when the WHL board of governors are scheduled to meet again.

Earlier on Saturday, the ECHL, the professional league below the NHL and American Hockey League, announced it was cancelling its season. Hockey Canada, which is a partner of the CHL, also canceled all events on Friday.

The NHL and AHL seasons remained suspended as of Saturday night.

Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for the Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @JoshHortonEDH

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