For the first time in its 102-year history, the Memorial Cup will not be awarded to a Canadian junior hockey team after the Canadian Hockey League and its three regional leagues canceled the 2020 postseasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CHL, Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League made the decision to pause their regular seasons on March 12. Last week, the pause became a cancellation of the rest of their regular-season schedules. On Monday, the leagues announced the “difficult decision” to cancel their respective playoffs and, in turn, the Memorial Cup tournament, which was scheduled for May 22-31 in Kelowna, British Columbia.

“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. 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 leagues said in a joint news release.

The format of the Memorial Cup tournament features the three champions from the regional leagues and the host city. The host for the 2021 tournament has yet to be announced, but it will be an OHL city. Both the Oshawa Generals and Soo Greyhounds have bid for the tournament.

OHL commissioner David Branch said the “safety of our players, officials, staff, fans and the general public is paramount” at this moment.

“The environment that we currently find ourselves in is much more important than the game of hockey, and we all have a part to play in getting through these difficult times together. At the appropriate time, when it is safe to do so, our players look forward to returning to the ice in our passionate hockey communities to assist in the overall healing process,” he said in a statement.

The junior hockey leagues join North American professional leagues such as the ECHL and SPHL that have canceled the entirety of their seasons. The National Hockey League and the American Hockey League both continue to have their regular seasons “paused” during the coronavirus outbreak.

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