For the Vancouver Giants, the announcement that the WHL playoffs have been cancelled was not especially surprising, coming after the March 18 decision to cancel the remaining 54 games between all teams.
At the time, the league held out hope the playoffs would be conducted at a later date, but on Monday, March 23rd, the other shoe dropped.
Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison announced the cancellation of the 2020 playoffs, saying that after a meeting with the WHL Board of Governors and consultation with medical professionals, “it was determined that the best course of action was the 2020 WHL Playoffs not be contested due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Before the viral crisis, the Giants appeared well positioned for the playoffs, second in their division, coming off an 11-game winning streak that matched their longest-ever regular season winning streak, and clinching their third playoff spot in a year.
“Nothing is more important to the WHL than the health and safety of our players, officials, staff, and fans,” Robison commented.
“Without any ability to predict as to when it will be safe and responsible to return to play, the WHL has made the difficult decision to cancel the WHL Playoffs and the balance of the 2019-20 season. All of us at the WHL will continue to do our part in battling this virus so that we may be in a position to enjoy more WHL hockey.”
The WHL announcement comes in conjunction with the CHL announcing the cancellation of the 2020 Memorial Cup Tournament.
Giants issued a statement that, “despite obvious disappointment, the Vancouver Giants support this difficult decision which prioritizes the long-term safety of the public, all players and staff.”
In the statement, Giants said all season ticket holders and corporate sponsors will “receive full value on their 2019-20 investment with the Vancouver Giants.”
“The operations, business and ticketing staff are currently working on contingency plans, and our hope is to have those plans in place by April. “
Details surrounding the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft and the 2020 U.S Prospects Draft will be announced in the near future.
“The entire Vancouver Giants organization wants to extend their heartfelt thanks to everybody who supported them this season and are eagerly awaiting the return of the WHL to the Langley Events Centre for the 20th anniversary season of Vancouver Giants hockey,” the statement added.
Langley-based Giants are one of 22 member clubs in the WHL, with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
WHL awarded the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy to the Portland Winterhawks in recognition of their top standing at the conclusion of the truncated 2019-20 WHL regular season.
With the WHL playoffs cancelled, the Ed Chynoweth Cup – the trophy awarded annually to the champion of the WHL Playoffs – will not be presented in 2020.