Covid-19 put the hockey world on pause for a great length of time. For some, the pandemic still has them on pause. It eventually cost the Ontario Hockey League their 2020-21 season. It’s left many wondering how players who lost their season completely will get a chance to show off their skills prior to the upcoming NHL Draft in July.
Thanks to the efforts of several players, a showcase is in the works that will bring many people from around the hockey world to one place for a couple of weeks.
Junior Showcase Coming to Erie
According to John Lydic of Erie News Now, players from not only the OHL but from other junior leagues have targeted Erie as the center to host a junior hockey summer showcase. It is expected that ErieBank Sports Park will host this showcase from Monday, May 31 until Sunday, June 13.
As of this writing, it is expected that over 90 players and counting as well as officials, scouts and former NHL players will attend. This will give them a chance to get a closer look at some members of this year’s draft class. Those that are eligible for the 2021 draft as well as those who lost their last eligible season because of the pandemic are invited to this event.
Related: 2021 THW Draft Guide
Erie Otters’ forward Brendan Hoffmann told Lydic, “(It’s) definitely going to be a lot of people, and a lot of high-end people in the hockey community. If anything, it’s going to show Erie, it’s not a small hockey community at all, is got something to grow for.”
Anyone who participates in the showcase must follow Covid-19 protocols daily. They will also be staying in a local hotel for the duration of the showcase.
More details are expected to come out as we get closer to the event including if fans would be allowed to attend. For now per Pennsylvania state mandates, there is a maximum capacity of 25% for indoor events assuming compliance with six-feet of social distancing. Further per Covid-19 guidelines at ErieBank Sports Park:
- Spectators may not enter until the game begins.
- Two parents/guardians are allowed per player.
- Players cannot arrive sooner than 20 minutes before ice time and must leave within 20 minutes after.
- At this time, Sports Park officials are working with local leaders to determine how many can be hosted.
This showcase is entirely a non-profit event funded by both charitable organizations and people from around the country. If there’s any money left, it will be given back to the Erie community in some way.
One of the biggest questions was how could players like this get a chance to show off before their next opportunity. Good on the players involved here including Hoffmann to put this idea together.
ErieBank Sports Park is where the Otters regularly practice if it’s not at Erie Insurance Arena. They have two full-size NHL rinks in there so it can accommodate practices, skills work and games. It can more than accommodate over 100 players should that many attend.
With cities like Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh just two hours away, it gives teams a chance to send reps down if they want to get a closer look at some players. Even Detroit and Columbus are just a little more than three hours away. Erie is a great location given how centralized it is. They are also doing fairly well when it comes to daily Covid-19 counts. Erie County added 53 new cases on Friday and no additional deaths. The county has a population of around 270,000.
This showcase is a win for the players, a win for the hockey world and a win for Erie. The city has always shown a willingness to step up to host major events including the recently completed Women’s Final Four at Erie Insurance Arena. This is another example of just how passionate the area is for hockey.
Once we get more information on the particulars of the showcase, we will make sure to pass that along to you. We’ll also pass along any information about streaming these games if there is a plan for that.
UPDATE: The Hockey Writers spoke to Brendan Hoffmann on Saturday afternoon. Here is some additional information we got from that conversation.
- As of Saturday afternoon, the number of players confirmed to be in Erie stands at over 125. This includes 77-79 forwards, 31-34 defensemen and 12 goalies. That number is expected to go up.
- This showcase will be streamed in some form, although final details are still being worked out.
- Once the number of players confirmed is known, they’ll have a better idea of how many fans can attend live. They expect 100-200 fans will eventually be allowed, but that’s not official yet.
- Former NHL players and scouts will be at this showcase. Vendors will be there too including CCM so players will have a chance to interact with them.
- The website for this showcase will go live on Monday.
- According to Hoffmann, all legal/medical is good to go for the players who participate.
- This showcase is completely separate from the OHL.
- Andrew Perrott, Ryan Beck and Ryan Humphrey spearheaded this idea. Hoffmann joined the group in mid-April to help facilitate and finalize ideas.
- Teams are expected to be nine forwards, 5-6 defensemen and a goalie for these games, but that could change depending on the final number of players.
Stay tuned with the Hockey Writers all throughout. As we continue gathering information, we will share with you.