The only unusual thing the Western Hockey League is planning for the next season is not an interlocking game between the Western and Eastern conferences. That being said, it’s packed for 2021-22 with 68 games per team from October 1st to April 3rd with fans in attendance to full capacity.
That’s a bold and clear plan for a league that had to hedge its bets throughout the pandemic after the 2019-20 season was canceled shortly before the playoffs and the 2021 season was reduced to 22 games with no playoffs.
“The league has never said anything like this. It shows that they have been following the situation closely and are very confident of what they are hearing from health officials, ”said Victoria Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.
“It’s a solid step forward.”
The WHL issued a statement: “With the anticipated lift of health restrictions in all jurisdictions, the 2021-22 season will require a 68-game schedule at full capacity in a fan-friendly and safe environment in all WHL markets.”
Teams can start today to reveal their home dates for the opening night. The WHL preseason schedule will be announced on June 21, and the regular season schedule for the Western Conference will be announced on June 23.
The playoffs begin on April 8th with the reintroduction of the conference format, which was valid until 2014, after which a division format was introduced in 2015. The top two postseason seeds based on regular season points will be awarded to the top two of the two divisions of each conference. The next six teams in each conference with the most points are placed third through eighth. The Western Conference consists of the 10 teams in the BC and US divisions.
The price determined for each regular season game to take place within the conference will be a four point point in terms of swing.
“And the new format will make for interesting first-round playoff matches that we haven’t seen in a long time,” said Price.
The dates for training camps will be announced shortly.
“It’s great and encouraging to just look forward to things like training camps and pre-season games again,” said Price.
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