By Michael Boriero
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) is on hiatus for the next few weeks, as the provincial government attempts to slow down the rise in COVID-19 cases, which means the Sherbrooke Phoenix will need to find ways to stay in game shape off the ice.
“Well, I think we have to stay positive on it. I understand the reason why with so many cases in Quebec, and just in our team, we had many guys with Covid the last two weeks,” said Phoenix head coach Stéphane Julien, adding that it’s everywhere in the league right now.
Sherbrooke returns to game action against the Val-d’Or Foreurs on Jan. 21, but there is still a lot up in the air with return-to-play guidelines. According to Julien, the league and owners will likely be unwilling to play in empty arenas again, especially without government aid.
“There is concern, for sure,” he said. “The difference between last year is we received some grants from the government. I don’t think that’s going to be the case this year, so from our perspective of ownership I don’t think we’ll see games without any fans for more than two weeks,”
The QMJHL is taking it day-by-day, Julien continued, but the bottom line is running a junior hockey organization is an expensive endeavour. Owners need ticket sales, concession sales, and fans in seats if they want to generate revenue and fund things like travel expenses.
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