The MJHL revealed four positive COVID-19 tests by league personnel in recent days, yet officials have been largely silent about a bombshell revelation that two Winnipeg teams — the Blues and Freeze — have been renting ice for practices outside city limits to circumvent provincial health restrictions.
The teams, both owned by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, have been booking ice in Warren under a different name, an anonymous source reported.
This came days after Hockey Manitoba decreed that teams within the Winnipeg health zone, including the Blues, Freeze and Selkirk Steelers, were prohibited from travelling to play games or practice.
"Any hockey activity that takes place outside the... Hockey Manitoba restrictions for regions identified as Critical (Red) is not permitted and is not sanctioned by Hockey Manitoba, the governing body of the MJHL," the league said in statement posted on its website Tuesday.
"Any teams or individuals who participate(d) in hockey activities outside of the above restrictions would be choosing to do so in an un-sanctioned environment outside of Hockey Manitoba and MJHL jurisdiction."
"Hockey Manitoba is looking into the situation," said the governing body's executive director Peter Woods, responding to a text from the Free Press.
Meanwhile, MJHL commissioner Kevin Saurette was scheduled to meet with the league's board of governors today, presumably to discuss the matter as well as the fate of the season, which has now ground to a halt with the entire province moving to code red status.
Some believe the league should shut down for the next six weeks and return following the Christmas break.
Waywayseecappo Wolverines general manager/head coach Taylor Harnett would not comment on the Freeze-Blues situation, adding he had no clear indication about how the remainder of the season would unfold.
"I'm not anticipating anything — I have no idea," said Harnett. "You know with everything that's gone on in the past, eight, nine months, I think I just kind of resigned myself to the fact that I'm not going to be surprised by anything."
Should there be a lengthy layoff, Harnett remained optimistic. His team practised one final time today before the start of code red on Thursday.
"Then it's just a matter of planning how you proceed with your team," said Harnett. "Whether (the players) go home or not, we're going to be having more meetings after I hear from our governor and obviously we hear from Kevin Saurette and then you plan. Because we're gonna play hockey again and we will resume our regular season at some point. And we got to be ready for that."
Longtime Portage Terriers GM/head coach Blake Spiller said it was impossible to plan ahead without further direction from the league.
"We've been talking as a staff and it's tough to do too much," said Spiller. "We're going to wait until the meeting (Wednesday) to get that direction. Right now we're in limbo... If the league says we're off until after Christmas, then we can make a plan."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.