Return to Hockey | COVID-19 Response

Return to Hockey | COVID-19 Response

Thank you for visiting the Ontario Hockey Federation's website, on this page you will find current information on the OHF's Return to Hockey as it becomes available.

OHF Return to Hockey Framework


Hockey Canada has released the following Statement on Return to Hockey in Canada
June 4

CALGARY, Alta. – The following is a statement on behalf of Hockey Canada from Tom Renney, chief executive officer, and Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer, on the return-to-hockey process in Canada.

“On March 12, the decision was made to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities across the country. This was a difficult decision, but one made to maintain the health and safety of all participants and the general public amid growing concerns around the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Currently there are no Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities being conducted, and we are working with our Members on their return-to-hockey plans. After ongoing discussions with the board of directors, our chief medical officer, the 13 Members and public health authorities across the country, it has been determined that the best approach for a return to hockey in Canada is to allow each Member the opportunity to work with authorities in their respective regions to determine when it is safe to return to the ice in areas that fall under their jurisdiction. We expect the timing of each Member’s return to hockey will be different, but will be based on the advice of their government and public health authority.

It is imperative to note that we are not ready to return to the game across the country. As we have seen in respect to flattening the curve, the impact of the pandemic varies from region to region. Permitting our Members the opportunity to decide on an appropriate return-to-hockey timeline will allow them to work directly with public health authorities to determine when it is safe to return while also implementing specific safety measures and rules within their associations and leagues.

Hockey Canada knows the game will look quite different, and the return will happen at different speeds and at different times across the country. Be assured, we continue to work on our multi-faceted return-to-hockey plan that includes health and safety regulations, communications and seasonal structure. As with so many people across the country, we look forward to returning to the game when it is safe to do so, and we will support our 13 Members as we continue to work towards getting back on the ice.”

For more information on the Return to Hockey plan, please visit HockeyCanada.ca/returntohockey.


Safety and Protocols for a Return to Hockey
June 4, 2020

Clearly-defined guidelines will help ensure the safety and well-being of all participants

Our day-to-day routine has been altered by COVID-19, and hockey has not been immune. Hockey Canada is committed to providing Return to Hockey resources to ensure Canadians in every province and territory are prepared to get back on the ice as quickly and safely as possible.

The Safety Guidelines will take hockey associations and leagues through how to prepare for a return to hockey, hygiene, return-to-play protocols and the use of facilities. With the depth of resources comes responsibility, and it is very important for Members, hockey associations, leagues and teams to appoint someone to oversee health and safety protocols.

Hockey Canada's Return to Hockey Safety Guidelines

Hockey Canada's Safety and Protocols for Return to Hockey - FAQs


OHF Return to Hockey Framework
June 10, 2020

The Ontario Hockey Federation Board of Directors has approved the OHF Return to Hockey Framework and specifically the implementation of Phase 2 - Stage 1, following Hockey Canada’s Return to Hockey’s Board of Directors decision last week.

Over the past three months, the OHF and its Member Partners have worked in conjunction with guidance from Public Health, the Government of Ontario and Hockey Canada to develop Return to Hockey Framework that will promote the health and safety of all stakeholders in the game. It is important to keep in mind that as both the environment and Emergency Order evolve within the province, so will the framework detailed in the document.

Within the Return to Hockey Framework, the OHF has provided a detailed Phased approach to reintroduce hockey activities across our provincial jurisdictions. The safety of all participants and stakeholders will continue to be the priority, while balancing the needs of individuals within the game. This staged approach does not have a specific timeframe, but will evolve at the guidance of public health, the provincial government and our governing body, Hockey Canada. At any point during the progression we may need to pause or return to a previous stage in order to protect and support our participants and the public. Currently there is no programming approved to be run anywhere in Ontario.

The OHF’s Return to Hockey plan can be found here: OHF Return to Hockey Framework

In addition, the OHF Board of Directors has also approved the OHF Hockey Canada Licensed Skill Development Program Policy to certify Hockey Canada Licensed Development Specialists (HCLDS). HCLDS will be certified by the OHF to perform hockey activities within the province of Ontario. According to the Ontario government’s Emergency Order, the opening and controlled use of sporting facilities, can be done so by a national sport organization funded by sport Canada or a member club of such an organization, a provincial sport or multi-sport organization recognized by the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries or a member club of such an organization or a professional sport league or a member of such a league.* By providing a certification to become a HCLDS this will allow for such instructors wishing to operate hockey activities within the province of Ontario the opportunity to do so, while guaranteeing that programming is both in line with Hockey Canada’s Safety Guidelines and the Ontario governments Emergency Order for the safety of all participants involved.

A number of benefits are associated with becoming a Hockey Canada Licensed Development Specialist including:

  • Full Hockey Canada / Member Insurance coverage
  • Endorsement through the OHF and its Members
  • Opportunity to attend National / Member training and certification
  • Opportunity to deliver Hockey Canada and Branch approved programming
  • Opportunity for Pro D webinars throughout the hockey season
  • Hockey Canada / Member promotion on website under certified / licensed programs to MHA’s / Parents / Players
  • Opportunity to be a Development Specialist at Member / Hockey Canada High Performance programs
  • Opportunities to attend Hockey Canada / Member Professional Development Workshops
  • Ability to market themselves to Minor Hockey Associations / Coaches / Players in conjunction with Members and Hockey Canada
  • Use of specific certified / licensed logo

The OHF will be hosting its first virtual training session starting the week of June 22. Information on the program and where to register, can be found here: OHF Hockey Canada Licensed Skill Development Program

We support the Province’s encouragement for the public to continue to adhere to public health measures, including practising physical distancing or wearing a face covering when physical distancing is difficult or not possible and regular hand washing and staying home when ill.

*This has now been amended. Please refer to the news release from the Ontario Government for information on the regulation change. 


OHF Return to Hockey Framework - Stage Two Explained
June 18, 2020

The Ontario Hockey Federation has provided further explanation to the operation of hockey activities within Stage Two of the OHF Return to Hockey Framework. Please click here and view Section 11: Appendix C for further details. 

In collaboration with our Members, the OHF has created a FAQ document to address many of the questions that are not answered in Section 11: Appendix C. This document will be updated frequently to provide answers as needed: OHF Return to Hockey Framework - FAQs 


Ontario's Return to Hockey
June 27, 2020

Since the release of its Return to Hockey Framework on June 10, Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO), Hockey Northwestern Ontario (HNO), the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA), the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) and its Members have worked in conjunction with Ontario’s Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Cultural Industries to get our players back on the ice safely in Ontario. Requirements that have been put in place to date ensure a safe return to the game, compliance with all Ontario laws, insurance coverage for players and facilities and validation that individuals operating on ice met all OHF and Hockey Canada standards.

Now, Ontario has removed certain restrictions for Stage 2 indoor sports and recreational fitness activities facilities.

Ontario’s Provincial Sport Organizations (PSO) for ice sports, including the OHF, HEO, HNO, the OWHA, Ringette Ontario, Ontario Speed Skating and Skate Ontario, have pooled our expertise and worked together to provide return to sport framework that will keep all who attend the shared facilities safe during this unprecedented time. We call on all facilities and operators who are outside the PSO framework to continue to rely on our guidance materials for the safety and wellbeing of our kids and adult sport participants.

The OHF’s Return to Hockey Framework is available and will be updated once details from the government have been provided. Further details will be provided by the government in the coming days. 

A safe return for participants has and will continue to be our focus on returning hockey back into Ontario. As the clear industry leaders for traditional programming, we are committed to providing a certification standard to non-traditional programming operators through the OHF Hockey Canada License Skill Development Program. This program will ensure to participants that individuals operating their program have the training to provide a safe return to the game, that OHF and Hockey Canada safety guidelines will be in place, that they are compliant with all Ontario laws and that they will be provided full coverage through Hockey Canada insurance.


Impact Ontario's Amendment to the Emergency Order has on Facilities and Municipalities 
July 3, 2020

On June 26, 2020 the Ontario Government issued an amendment to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act as it pertains to the operation of indoor sports within the Province. Contrary to the procedures outlined in the previous act, Ontario has removed certain restrictions for Stage 2 indoor sports and recreational fitness activities facilities. 

This means that facilities are now given the opportunity to be used by more businesses and organization to train amateur athletes and run certain non-contact amateur athletic competitions. The responsibility to validate the programming on the ice, that in all cases operateactivities in a way that meets public health requirements, has transferred from the OHF to the facilities. 

As such, facilities no longer require the OHF Certificate of Validation or Certificate of Insurance from an individual looking to book ice to be compliant with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The facility must validate that the individual meets the standard they have implemented to comply with the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.  

However, a safe return for participants has and will continue to be our focus on returning hockey back into Ontario. For that reason, the OHF will continue to certify individuals through the OHF Hockey Canada LicenseSkill Development Program. Additionally, the OHF will continue to issue its Certificate of Validation and Certificate of Insurance. These documents will allow facilities to easily identifyand be confident, that programs operating at their facilities comply with Hockey Canada’s standards and are backed by the Hockey Canada Insurance Program. Facilities can rest easy knowing that program leaders with the OHF Certificate of Validation have the training to provide a safe return to the game, while complying with the OHF and Hockey Canada safety guidelines. 

NOTE: The above reference to non-contact refers to maintaining physical distance of 2M and does not mean hockey competition can occur in the absence of body contact/body checking. 


OHF Return to Hockey Stage 3A 
July 28, 2020

With the Government of Ontario’s implementation of Stage 3 within regions of the province, the Ontario Hockey Federation and their Members have developed a Return to Hockey Stage 3A conducive to public health guidelines that will allow for our participants to return to sport in a safe manner. The plan is built completely around the guidelines and recommendations provided from the Ontario Government and Public Health and as such numbers of individuals gathering do not exceed those dictated for all other activities within the province.  

The OHF’s Return to Hockey is designed to be an incremental approach that will ensure the OHF opens in a safe way. OHF Members and Minor Hockey Associations (MHA’s) will have different levels of preparedness and readiness which means the pace at which they move through the OHF Return to Hockey Framework will vary for Associations based on what capacity they can manage. 

The OHF will maintain an updated posting on its website of the OHF Stage that each Public Health Unit has progressed to. Associations will operate their programming in accordance with the framework of the Stage as well as the rules established by their particular Member, the local Public Health Unit and the facilities.


OHF Return to Hockey Stage 3
July 31, 2020

Following the release of the OHF Return to Hockey Framework Stage 3A, the Ontario Hockey Federation and their Members have released Stages 3B-3E in accordance with the Ontario Government, Public Health Unit and Hockey Canada Safety Protocols that will allow for our participants to return to sport safely, when they are ready to do so.

The OHF’s Return to Hockey Framework Stage 3 is an incremental approach for participants to develop essential hockey skills. OHF Members and Minor Hockey Associations (MHA’s) will have different levels of preparedness and readiness which means the pace at which they move through the OHF Return to Hockey Framework will vary for Associations based on what capacity they can manage. 

Stage 3 provides for additional hockey opportunities beyond the individual and group training that were approved in Stage 1 and 2 of the OHF Return to Hockey Framework. Participants can register in Hockey Canada programming that will include game play with rules that focus on removing deliberate and prolonged contact.  

Stage 3 will be based on the following philosophies:

  • Flexibility on registering players for participation in the 2020-2021 season and the cooperation between Associations and Members.
  • Processes put in place for new participants to register as:
    • Participants and families become open to registering for hockey programming, and
    • More arenas become available for use.
  • The opportunity for adjusted program offerings on a four-week cycle as the Government updates numbers for gathering and group participation.
  • To allow for staggered opening or closure of programming based on Ontario’s regional approach to reopening with minimal disruption to programs operating.
  • Individual and Group Training remains a focus in August and September with the addition of participants.
  • No tryouts for the formation of Teams. Members to determine approach for tiered structure based on category of participation last year.
  • No affiliation or integration allowed between leagues.
  • May only participate in one league/team within the OHF.
  • The boundaries of the Public Health Unit will be a guideline for competition between teams.

From July 28 to August 31, the OHF will be in Stage 3A. In Stage 3A Member approved programming is based on Stage 1 and 2 requirements for participants who were registered with the association for 2019-2020 in geographic areas that the Ontario Government has deemed to be in Stage 3 of Ontario’s Reopening Plan. Individual and group training allows for a maximum of 25 participants on the ice, including instructors, or a lower number if determined by Ontario Government, local PHU, the facility or Member. Physical distancing is required for the purpose of individual and group training and if a facility has further restrictions all programming must comply.  

Associations may begin to gather fees for programming offered in accordance with the OHF Return to Hockey Framework Stage 3A. The collection of fees must only be done for the purpose of Stage 3 programming.

Beginning September 1, the OHF will move to Stage 3B. Following a two-week development phase for any new programs, Stage 3 Modified Programming will begin. Essential to the safety of participants, modified programming is Member Sanctioned hockey programs in compliance with the requirements of Stage 3 operated within the Minor Hockey Associations or the Member including game play, scrimmage in practice and team practice drills. After a break from physical sport, modified programming encourages players to focus on developing hockey skills while being able to physically distance on the ice.

To determine the appropriate people that can be on the ice in OHF Sanctioned Programming as we begin to transition through the OHF Return to Hockey Stages 1 to 4 of Phase 2, the OHF Board of Directors have passed an On-Ice Personnel Policy. This policy establishes that the following individuals and/or groups can return to the ice for skill development purposes:

  • Hockey Canada Licensed Development Specialist (can charge fee for service);
  • OHF Member coaches (coaching within his/her Member and Association outside of their register team) (volunteering to MHA);
  • Ontario Hockey League head coach, assistant coach or goalie coach (expand) volunteering to the MHA;
  • OWHA coach at Provincial or National Level; or
  • Registered Skate Ontario Certified Instructors.

All other personnel that go on to OHF Sanctioned Ice that do not meet the requirements must indemnify Hockey Canada, its Members and Registered Participants. In additional, must provide proof of commercial general liability insurance in an amount of not less than $5,000,000, in Canadian funds.

In all instances the OHF Directors will make the final determination as to the active level within Stage 3 of the OHF Return to Hockey Framework that a Member is eligible to progress to. This determination will be communicated by way of Bulletin from the OHF to the Members and posted on the OHF website. The OHF will maintain an updated posting on its website of the OHF Stage that each Public Health Unit has progressed to. Associations will operate their programming in accordance with the Framework of the Stage as well as the rules established by their particular Member, the Ontario Government, the local Public Health Unit and the facilities.