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Disappointed but not surprised, Guelph Storm players head home

OHL suspends season with five games left on the regular season schedule
20200228 storm vs otters ts 8
Guelph's Matt Papais heads back to the bench after scoring against the Erie Otters earlier this season. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

Disappointed but not surprised.

That was the mood at a team meeting Thursday when the Guelph Storm players were told the season was being put on hold.

“With all that’s out there on social media, I don’t think it was a big surprise,” said Storm coach and general manager George Burnett Friday.

“If you look at everything else that is happening in the world of sport and large groups, it was the right thing to do. Everyone’s health has got to be the top priority,” Burnett said.

“We’ll sit tight and take our direction form the league. I don’t ever recall anything like this.”

Nobody does.

Most of the players will now disperse to their hometowns, the Russian players won’t leave the country for fear they might not easily be able to return should the season resume.

Half the Storm players attend high school. If that resumes in three weeks some of them could return to school here. Most of the older players that take a university course or two do so online.

Knowing it’s the right and only thing to do and that everybody is in the same situation helps temper the disappointment, a disappointment that would be even greater for those with something to prove.

“We’ve got lots of players and in their own personal space they’ve got lots on the line right now,” said Burnett.

“Kids like Cam (Hillis) are trying to sign a pro contract and there’s a number of kids that are trying to play their best and show the scouts and be drafted, but I think they all understand that everybody’s health and well-being is more important at this time.

Burnett said the league has no D-Day, where the rest of the season would be cancelled. For now, like most other sports leagues, it is in wait-and-see mode.

If play were to resume, it would almost certainly mean shortened playoffs in some form, be it three-game as opposed to seven-game series. Perhaps the number of teams would be cut down.

But at this point it’s all speculation.

“We’ll sit back and see how things progress over the next days and weeks. I’m not sure what the follow up will be at this point.”

There has been no talk of a point where the season will be scrapped. At this point it’s “suspended.”

The online OHL Priority Selection draft will go as planned on April 4.

Next week’s OHL Cup, the high profile tournament that sees most of the the top draft-eligible players to one tournament, has been cancelled.

“It’s disappointing. I know from a scouting perspective it’s always good to see the best players playing against the best players … but again, what’s at stake here is much more important.”

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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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