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Looking forward to hockey without ‘COVID protocols’

It’s becoming a familiar refrain in every league in Canada.

Let’s look at some of the headlines from the Western Hockey League website over the past week or so: “WHL announces postponement of two WHL regular season games”; “WHL announces postponement of seven WHL regular season games”; “WHL update on COVID-19 protocols and postponement of eight WHL regular season games”; “WHL announces return to team activities for three clubs; postponement of one WHL regular season game”

Please note I have not reproduced the headlines exactly as they are on the site, because I see no reason to capitalize ‘regular season’, as the WHL does.

I believe at one point last week I saw a headline that 15 of the 30 National Hockey League teams were under COVID protocols, which meant a lot of nights there were eight or nine games scheduled and two actually being played.

Of course, in the NHL we’re getting an interesting system in effect. The league is postponing games in Canada because of crowd restrictions which would cause the teams to lose money, but also insisting they will play a full schedule. The way things are going, by the time they make up all the postponed games, this season’s Stanley Cup will be awarded in September, probably about a day before the other 28 teams open the next season.

The one thing I have noticed, looking at stories from different leagues in different parts of the country, is how different areas are viewing the Omicron variant of COVID.

Some seem to be looking at the raw numbers and bringing back in very strict public health orders; others are looking at the apparently decreased severity of the variant and loosening up some restrictions.

In B.C., we seem to be following both paths. There are still a lot of restrictions on different businesses and who can be open; but the government has also said people who contract the Omicron variant only have to self-isolate for five days instead of the previously mandated 10-day period.

I look forward to the day when I can look at a major sports website and not see any stories about COVID, but I think it’s going to be a while yet.

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