The QMJHL is putting all of its activities on hold from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, the league announced Monday, while adding that more details will be provided in the next few weeks.
“The current situation with the pandemic in the regions in which we operate makes it extremely difficult to play games,” QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau said in a statement. “With the holidays just around the corner, the provinces in the Maritimes have restricted access and travel, while red zone restrictions in Quebec do not permit us to play.”
Multiple QMJHL teams have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks since the league began its 2020-21 season in October. In the middle of that month, the QMJHL paused all games in Quebec. Then, about three weeks later, it relocated seven teams to a bubble in Quebec City.
The WHL and OHL haven't opened their campaigns and are targeting start dates of Jan. 8 and Feb. 4, respectively.
The United States announced its preliminary roster for the 2021 world juniors on Monday.
The 29 selected players - 10 returnees from the 2020 squad - will convene in Plymouth, Michigan, for training camp beginning Dec. 6. The tournament starts Christmas Day in Edmonton.
"We have a talented group and we’ll have some tough decisions to make," general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said. "We continue to benefit from a deep player pool, and that’s credit to all of the organizations and volunteers developing the next wave of American talent."
2021 draft eligible
The United States have plenty of first-round talent up front; the group is headlined by blue-chip prospects Robertson, Caufield, and Turcotte. Zegras is another player to watch, as he led the club in scoring at last year's tournament with nine assists in five games.
The American defensive corps is also ripe with promising prospects, primarily Sandersson - the fifth overall pick in 2020 - as well as York, and Thrun.
USA's greatest strength may be in goal. Knight posted a .931 save percentage in 33 games at Boston College last season and is expected to take the No. 1 spot. Meanwhile, Wolf won CHL Goaltender of the Year in 2020 after a dominant campaign with the Everett Silvertips that saw him post a 34-10-2 record along with a .935 clip and 1.88 goals-against average.
The United States is coming off a disappointing sixth-place finish at last year's event in Ostrava, Czech Republic. USA's quest for redemption starts on Christmas with a heavyweight tilt versus Russia.
"'TK' was one of the first people who took me under his wing right away from the moment I got there," McAvoy told the "Cam & Strick Podcast," according to NHL.com. "We still work out (in the summers). He's just an unbelievable guy. Everybody (in St. Louis) is going to love him. … I'm still sad that he's not on our team, honestly."
Krug spent nine seasons with the Bruins, tallying 337 points across 523 games. He inked a seven-year deal carrying an average annual value of $6.5 million with the Blues on Oct. 9 when free agency opened.
It didn't appear as though Krug was eager to leave Boston. He was blunt following his signing, with the veteran saying he didn't even receive an offer from the Bruins.
McAvoy believes Krug's presence will be missed dearly.
"It definitely doesn't really feel real, showing up to training camp that he's not going to be there," the 22-year-old said. "(St. Louis) got a (really good) hockey player.
"He's an unbelievably gifted defenseman, especially on the offensive side of the puck. He just sees the game so well. He's going to make the Blues a very good hockey team."
Zdeno Chara also remains unsigned while pondering his future, which means Boston's blue line could look vastly different in 2021. Here's the team's projected top six:
McAvoy has already become one of the league's better two-way defenders. Now with three years already under his belt, many are projecting a breakout season for him offensively, especially if he gets some of Krug's power-play time.
"I'm definitely excited to be where I am and with this team," McAvoy said. "And I'm not really sure what's going to happen. This is kind of like a weird place to be. I (haven't) been in this position since I've been here where it kind of looks like we're restructuring a little bit on the back end.
"No one knows what's going to happen to (Chara) and all that. But whatever the challenge is, I know that I'll be ready for it."
The Pacific Division rivals went at it repeatedly via Twitter on Sunday and traded jabs at one another after Kane challenged YouTube star Jake Paul to a fight.
Reaves' brother Jordan, who plays for the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders, was also going after Kane for challenging Paul, who was the talk of the internet Saturday night for ruthlessly knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson.
That's when Kane stepped in and exchanged chirps.
Reaves' billboard taunt stems from a stunt Kane pulled in 2015. The Vancouver, British Columbia, native, as a member of the Sabres, took out a billboard ad for model girlfriend Mara Teigen on the Hollywood Strip.
Kane and Reaves have traded jabs several times dating back to the Sharks-Golden Knights playoff series in 2019. Their relationship isn't strictly bad blood, though - the two teamed up as members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance to call for action from the NHL regarding racial injustice issues in the United States.
"I think last year was a good year for me to go through some ups and downs and learn a little bit more about what it's like to be (in the NHL) full time," Demko said, according to Sportsnet's Iain MacIntyre.
He added, "I feel really confident going into this year. I'm right where I want to be in my career right now. I think there's a lot on the table, and I'm just really excited to get the opportunity (to) take that next step. I want to be in Vancouver as long as I can. I want to be the guy. This is the next step in that direction."
Demko allowed just two goals on 130 shots against the high-powered Vegas Golden Knights to finish with an absurd .985 save percentage over four playoff appearances. The 24-year-old picked up consecutive wins - including a 48-save shutout in Game 6 - to help the Canucks erase a 3-1 series deficit and push the series to the limit.
After struggling to find his consistency during the regular season, Demko recognized the importance of seizing his chances in the bubble.
"When that second opportunity came around in the playoffs, it was like: OK, I've been in this situation before. I learned a ton the first time around and now these games are even bigger," he said. "I was able to kind of settle in and just be a lot more confident in myself after learning from my failures. I knew the second time around, I wasn't going to make the same mistakes."
Demko is entering the final year of his current deal - which carries an annual cap hit of $1.05 million - and will become a restricted free agent after this season. The Canucks added veteran puck-stopper Braden Holtby on a two-year pact this offseason, and the two will likely split time between the pipes.