WHL cancels rest of regular season, playoffs remain in limbo

The Silvertips’ final five regular-season games will not be played

The 2019-20 Western Hockey League regular season has been canceled.

The league’s board of governors met Tuesday and, according to a report by Bob McKenzie of TSN, they determined that the remainder of the regular season, which was set to end March 21, won’t be completed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision left open the slim possibility of the playoffs taking place in some form. If so, the WHL would seed its teams based on point percentages, TSN reported. In that scenario, the Silvertips (.762) would hold the WHL’s No. 2 seed behind Portland (.770).

There was no indication if the playoffs would take place in a truncated form. The normal format is three rounds of best-of-seven series and a seven-game championship series.

The 2020 WHL bantam draft will be determined in reverse order of the teams in the standings based on point percentages, TSN reported.

Along with the two other organizations that make up the Canadian Hockey League — the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — the WHL temporarily suspended its season on March 12. That move followed similar decisions by the NHL and the American Hockey League earlier in the day.

Over the weekend, several WHL clubs — including the Silvertips — sent their players home. Everett players departed Snohomish County on Sunday morning.

Also on Sunday, Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that two Winnipeg Ice players were being tested for the virus. As of Tuesday afternoon, the results of those tests had not been made public.

Even if the playoffs are completed, the 2020 Memorial Cup, scheduled to be hosted by the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place in late May, won’t be played as scheduled. The event brings together the champions of the three major junior hockey leagues and the host team. The British Columbia provincial health authorities have mandated that no sporting events of 50 or more people take place until June, at the earliest.

McKenzie said he’s doubtful the playoffs will take place at all.

“As for the respective CHL playoffs, the odds of them taking place would appear to be a longshot at this point,” McKenzie said in a tweet, “but no firm decision is being taken by the CHL on playoffs just yet.”

It could be the first season without a Memorial Cup champion since its modern iteration began in 1983.

The cancellation of the regular season ends the Silvertips’ bid for the organization’s second Scotty Munro Trophy, awarded to the WHL team with the best regular-season record. Portland would take that honor with the best point percentage.

The cancellation of the regular season also halts two Silvertips’ quests to climb atop the franchise’s record books.

Silvertip captain Bryce Kindopp sat two goals from Patrick Bajkov’s franchise career goals record (112) with five regular-season games remaining. Wyatte Wylie was one point away from tying the franchise mark for single-season points by a defenseman (65), set by Kevin Davis in 2017-2018.

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

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