Though it will be later than local fans might be accustomed to, plans are in place for the Brandon Wheat Kings to return to the ice later this year as the Western Hockey League works toward plans for a 2020-21 regular season.
The WHL announced on Thursday afternoon plans for a December 4 start date for the season, at the same time emphasizing a commitment to a full 68 game regular season in addition to four playoff rounds.
Traditionally the league kicks off its regular season approximately three weeks into September. The extended period prior to start will allow time for the league to work with government and health authorities to ensure a safe and responsible return to play.
No schedule or proposed schedule was released on Thursday, presumably to follow at a later date.
During the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic in late Winter and into the Spring, the league cancelled the remainder of its 2019-20 regular season as well as subsequent playoffs and Memorial Cup tournament.
The National Hockey League resumed its season this past weekend with teams playing in two hub cities and players living within a 'bubble.' Games are played in arenas without fans with all being televised. There is no word at this time what the WHL's return might look like in just under four months' time.
The Wheat Kings finished 3rd in the East Division last year with a 35-22-4-2 record in 63 games prior to the suspension of the season.