Everett goaltender Dustin Wolf stops a shot during a WHL game against the Seattle Thunderbirds on March 8 at ShoWare Center in Kent. (Kevin Clark/The Herald)

Everett goaltender Dustin Wolf stops a shot during a WHL game against the Seattle Thunderbirds on March 8 at ShoWare Center in Kent. (Kevin Clark/The Herald)

WHL season canceled because of COVID-19 pandemic

The Canadian Hockey League pulled the plug on the playoffs Monday after initially postponing them.

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

After the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL’s governing body, shut down the remainder of the regular season last week because of the new coronavirus pandemic, the CHL took the next step Monday afternoon and canceled the playoffs.

“We have continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played,” the CHL said in a press release. “Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.”

The 2019-2020 WHL season won’t have a champion. There will be a blank spot left in the record books.

Nor will there be a 2020 Memorial Cup champion. The WHL’s Kelowna Rockets were set to host the annual tournament in late May. The Memorial Cup pits the champions of the CHL’s three leagues — the WHL, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League — and the team from the host city in a round-robin format. The OHL is scheduled to host next year.

This is the first season the Memorial Cup won’t be awarded in the trophy’s 102-year history.

“(I’m) not surprised at all,” Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson said. “I just didn’t see how we would be able to probably have to move the Memorial Cup and have enough time to have a playoff. It’s really disappointing for many reasons, but not surprising at all with the way things are going out there.”

Bryce Kindopp, the Silvertips captain, said Silvertips head coach Dennis Williams sent a message to the players before the official announcement at 3 p.m. PDT.

Once reports on social media started to trickle in, the reality started to finally sink in.

“Obviously (the season being shut down) was always in the back of my head,” Kindopp said. “With the team we had, we felt like we could go a long way. In the back of my mind, I knew this day could come. But I didn’t want it to.”

The Everett Silvertips finished the 2019-2020 season with the most wins in the WHL with 47 and the least goals allowed at 142. The Scotty Munro Trophy, awarded to the team with the most regular-season points, goes to the Portland Winterhawks, who finished one point ahead of Everett with 97. Portland possessed three more “loser points” than Everett because of three more shootout losses.

The CHL pulling the plug on the postseason officially ends the careers of Silvertips overagers Kindopp, Wyatte Wylie and Jake Christiansen. All three were drafted by the Silvertips and played a combined 835 regular-season and 136 playoff games for the organization.

All three will play professional hockey, at some level, after signing professional contracts with NHL teams this spring. Christiansen is a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, Wylie is a Philadelphia Flyers prospect and Kindopp is an Anaheim Ducks prospect.

It’s also possible the WHL careers of Cole Fonstad and Gianni Fairbrother concluded with Monday’s announcement. Both are Montreal Canadiens prospects and will be eligible to play in the American Hockey League for the first time next season.

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