CODE COVID: What the pandemic has taught us about long-term care
SaltWire Selects: Stories you don't want to miss
What you need to know about COVID-19 today
Continuing coverage: Mass shooting in Nova Scotia
Business Tool Kit 2021
Have you heard about the SaltWire News app?
Daily forecasts and weather facts from Cindy Day
The Heroes of 2020
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams might know by the end of the month whether they will be getting their import players.
Each of the league’s 18 teams are permitted to have two on their roster, but currently only 15 of the 36 players have been cleared to enter the country due to the pandemic. Six played in the league in the first half while the other nine stayed in Canada after participating in the world junior tournament in Edmonton earlier this month.
Players entering Canada had to be tested and needed to quarantine.
“To have foreign players to come and play in Canada, they need a national interest letter to go with (their) passport, visa and all that to make (them) eligible to cross the border,” commissioner Gilles Courteau explained.
The league is sending the requested documents, including support letters from each province, to the Public Health Agency of Canada. The agency, which is expected to meet on Monday, could grant the approval for the remaining players to enter the country.
Monday is also the league’s trade deadline, meaning teams will not know for sure if they will have their imports before their last opportunity to boost their roster. Courteau said teams will have until March 1 to add their import players to their roster, if granted the federal approval.
Courteau understands fans’ frustration seeing some teams with their import players while others can only hold out hope.
“The import player situation has been a very difficult one to get through with our teams because we all realize the importance of import players across the (Canadian Hockey League),” he said. “I understand our teams’ frustration because they want to have the best players on their team.”
The Charlottetown Islanders drafted a pair of 17-year-old forwards from the Czech Republic on June 30.
“We’re still holding out hope that at least one of the two imports comes,” head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said.
The team’s top selection, Jakub Brabenec, is playing pro with H.C. Kometa Brno and will probably finish the season there while there is a better chance the team’s second pick, Matous Mensik, will come if permitted.
“Mensik is ready to come the second that the border issue is resolved,” Hulton said.
Courteau said the import player situation has been the second biggest file the league has worked on after public health this season. It is getting closer to the finish line and hopes for some good news in late January, which he said will still give teams time to get their players here for the stretch drive.
“Don't be surprised if we’re playing until June,” he said. “So, they'll have plenty of time to show their talents on ice.”
The league also has three American players who have been cleared to play in the league.
Around the division
Here's a look at the players drafted in the Canadian Hockey League import draft permitted to enter Canada and play in the Maritime Division of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2021.
- F Attilio Biasca
- F Senna Peeters
- G Jan Bednar
- F Maxim Barbashev
Jason Malloy is The Guardian's sports reporter.