Return to Hockey – COVID Updates

RTPlogoOn March 13, 2020, Hockey Canada put a halt on minor hockey across the country to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since then, Hockey Canada has allowed provincial hockey branches to work with local health authorities to determine the best return-to-play framework for their province.

The return to hockey in Ontario and across the GTHL will be done slowly and under the guidance of local health authorities. The frameworks and policies established will ensure players, parents, coaches, and volunteers are kept safe.


Game Plan - Return to Play Framework

In alignment with Hockey Canada’s Safety Guidelines and the Ontario government’s Guidance for facilities for sports and recreational fitness activities during COVID-19, the GTHL has developed a return-to-hockey framework specific to our circumstances here in the GTHL. The Game Plan is a fluid and living document that will require revisions as we move into the fall and throughout the 2020-21 season.

Click here to view the Game Plan Framework


Latest News


(Updated December 8) Q- When will a decision about the January start date be made?
A→ The GTHL has released an update on the season postponement and has set a new timeframe for potential re-opening. Click here to read the announcement

(Updated December 8) Q-What phase will the GTHL be starting on when the season begins?
A→ When permitted, resuming operations under the Orange “Restrict” level of the Ontario governments COVID response will permit GTHL teams and organizations to open in Period 2 of the GTHL Game Plan document

(Updated December 8) Q-When the GTHL starts then how late will the season go?
A→At this time that is undetermined.  It will be based on public health advice we receive during that period.  We expect, to operate until at least April of 2021.

(Added October 14) Q- What happens with U16/U18 “AAA” Programming?
A→The GTHL continues to work with the Ontario Hockey Federation on a program geared specifically to U16 and U18 high performance players. A plan should be available sometime in October.

(Added October 7) Q- Does this mean that we stay in the Warm-Up stage?
A→The warm up stage permits off ice training. The decision by the GTHL is that all sanctioned activity be paused. Therefore, off ice training is not permitted by any GTHL Club, Association or Team.

(Added October 7) Q- Why was the GTHL season paused?
The sudden increase in COVID infection rate in the Greater Toronto Area, combined with the statement from the Toronto Medical Officer of Health, made it clear that the GTHL needed to pause its activity.


(Added October 14) Q- I want to be released from my team that I registered with now that there is no on-ice activity. How do I do this?
A→ A release must be endorsed by the organization where you are currently registered.  If a family member has a challenge in securing a release they can please contact the GTHL Office. The release process has not changed. The Rules and Policy Committee of the GTHL is currently reviewing the existing rules for releases.

(Added October 14) Q- Is registration still open and are teams continuing to be approved?
A→Yes, you can still register for the 2020-21 season and teams are continuing to be approved.

(Added October 14) Q- Is the GTHL still contacting the families of players who registered prior to September 7th to fill out the requested waivers?
A→The Office is pausing this activity but will be resuming it in the coming weeks.

(Added October 14) Please clarify when the $40.41 HC insurance/assessment will be collected. Does it apply to House League registrants? When/how will it be collected?
A→At this point in time the fee is not being collected. It will only be collected once on-ice activities begin and it will be collected based on actual registration numbers.

Releases & Refunds

(Added October 14) Q- Can you help get us a full refund for our practice ice?
A→The GTHL is working with organizations and ice providers to resolve contract issues. any issues that arise with ice contracts.

(Added October 14)  Q-My team won’t refund the payment it collected for practices that were starting as early as October 7th. How do I get a refund?
A→Teams and organizations are encouraged to refund payments for any services/supplies that have not been provided. If a family experiences challenges after speaking with members of the organization’s executive, please contact the GTHL Office.

Unsanctioned Hockey

 (Added October 14) Q-What happens if an organization decides to operate and hold games without sanctioning?
A→Any GTHL organization that operates during the pause is not sanctioned by Hockey Canada, the Ontario Hockey Federation and or the GTHL. This type of action would be reviewed by the GTHL Membership Committee when applications for the 2020-21 season are submitted. As well, It is our understanding that it would be extremely unlikely the organization would be able to obtain insurance that would provide coverage for COVID related claims.

(Added October 22) Q – Can I play in an unsanctioned League at the moment?
A→The OHF has reviewed their unsanctioned league policy in response to the postponement of the GTHL season. Click here for more information.

Team and Player Activity

(October 2) Q- Why am I paying fees if we aren’t playing League games?
The GTHL is charging participants $40.41 to cover Hockey Canada Assessment and Insurance and OHF Assessments. The GTHL Player Registration Fee will not be charged until the Overtime period of the GTHL Game Plan. Clubs may charge an extra fee to cover additional costs such as ice time, jerseys, and other items.

(Added August 19) Q- What’s the difference between a sanctioned and unsanctioned league?
An unsanctioned league includes any amateur hockey league that operates in Canada outside the auspices/sanctioning of Hockey Canada. This includes tournaments. The GTHL is a sanctioned league. Click here for the OHF Policy on unsanctioned programming.

(Added August 13) Q-  If my child plays in an unsanctioned league or tournament and we don’t sign a GTHL card until that League ends in October, prior to the resumption of formal GTHL play, does that contravene Hockey Canada or GTHL guidelines?
A→ The unsanctioned league policy stipulates that any participant who participates in an unsanctioned league after September 30 is not eligible to participate in sanctioned hockey (GTHL, OMHA etc) for the balance of the season. This includes tournaments and any gameplay outside of GTHL programming. The GTHL will be enforcing this provision this coming year.

(Added September 30) Q- Can my child participate in skills training outside of their team?
Yes. Private skills training is permitted, but any programming resembling organized gameplay is not permitted. 

(September 23) Q – Period 1 states that 20 players can scrimmage 3v3 or 4v4. Can these players be from different teams?
No, the players all must be from the same team.

(September 9) Q- I live in Markham. What are the residency rules for Markham for the 2020-21 season?
The following chart explains options for Markham residents for the 2020-21 season. Click image to view. 

(September 3)
Q- Game Plan refers to team activity of no more than 20. Does this include coaches?
A→  No. It is referring to 20 players plus bench staff.

(Added August 25) Q- What will the registration process be and how does it work?
A→ House Leagues will continue to register players online as in the past. “A”, “AA” and “AAA” players will first register directly with the GTHL. The Club they will be participating with will then be able to add that player to the Team.

(Added August 18) Q – When will players be released from old teams?
A→  September 7, 2020.

(Added August 17) Q- How many players can be registered to a team?
All Teams, other than U18 ‘AAA’ and Under-21 ‘AAA’ Teams, may at any time have registered a maximum of 19 players. U18 ‘AAA’ teams may at any time have registered a maximum of 20 players. Under-21 ‘AAA’ Teams may at any time have registered a maximum of 25 players.


(Added May 7) Q- Would hockey be deferred/delayed until a vaccine is available and distributed to all?
A→ This will be a determination made by Federal and Provincial Authorities along with the Hockey Canada Board, Ontario Hockey Federation Board and the GTHL Board.  These decisions will all be guided by the requirements and recommendations of the health authorities.


(Added August 17) Q- How do I post in players wanted?
E-mail your Club with the information you need  posted and the Club will post it to the GTHL portal.

(Added August 15) Q- How do I find a team if there are no tryouts?
A→ Teams looking for players will have the option of posting it on the GTHL website under “players wanted”.

(Added August 15) Q- How will the coach know what kind of player they’re getting since there are no in person tryouts?
A→The coach will have to make a decision based on the players prior playing experience.

(Added August 15) Q- I don’t have a team. How can I find one?
A→Teams looking for players will have the option of posting it on the GTHL website under “players wanted”.


(Updated September 21) Q- I played in the GTHL last year as an import. Can I continue to play in the GTHL?
U10 to U13 players can stay with the organization they were with during the 2019-20 season or return to their home center. Players U14 and up can play for any GTHL organization or return to their home center. Markham residents should refer to the Markham residency rules above.

(Added August 26) Q-I have a U10 player who participated in the NYHL last season but lives in Brampton. Can he play on a GTHL U10 team?
A→ No he must return to his home center.

(Added August 18) Q- If the organization/team I was with folded and I’m an import, can I go to another GTHL team? 
A→ Players U14 and up can play for any GTHL organization or return to their home center. Players U10 to U13 would have to return to their home center if the GTHL team they played for last season is now folded.

(Added August 19) Q- Will AAA Waivers be issued for the 2020-21 season?
A→No, they will not be issued during the 2020-21 season.

(Added August 16) Q- I played in the OMHA last year and want to play in the GTHL last year as an import. Is this allowed?
No new imports are allowed in the GTHL unless their home center does not offer programming.

(Added August 24) Q-My child is going into U10 and we live in Brampton. We participated in the NYHL last season. Can they play on a GTHL U10 team?
A No, you must return to your home centre for 2020-21.

(Added August 24) Q- Our team from last year is full as is our home centre. What are our options?
A If you are in an OMHA centre they can contact the home center to explore your options, or you can contact the OMHA directly.

COVID-19 Specific Questions

(Added September 2) Q-What protocols can I expect at the rink and what may I need to do differently?
A →
Each facility is unique so you can expect different protocols at each location.  All protocols mandated by Public Health Guidelines including the need to social distance and the requirement to wear a mask will be followed.

(Added September 2) Q- The Ontario government has mandated that 50 people can congregate indoors so why is the GTHL restricting it to 20?
A→ The facilities used by GTHL organizations often have shared entrance and exits as well as shared gathering places.  Limiting traffic in buildings will make it safer for all participants. Starting with smaller groups will also allow for participants to get used to new protocols in smaller groups.

(Added September 2) Q- What happens if there’s a case on my team?
A → The Local Public Health Authority will provide direction to the participant, team, Association and GTHL on what steps are necessary.

(Added September 2) Q- What happens if someone on my team has been in contact with a case and didn’t know?
A → They should contact the local Public Health Authority and take directions from them.

(Added September 2)Q- What’s a Team Safety Rep?
A → The Team Safety Rep is there to support the Team Officials, Players and families in complying with the GTHL Game Plan protocols.

(Added September 2) Q- Does every Team need a Safety Rep?
A →Yes.

(Added September 2)Q- Do I need to be a registered bench staff to be a Team Safety Rep?
A→No, but you need to be registered as an Off-Ice Volunteer.

(Added September 2)Q- Who is eligible to be a Team Safety Rep?
A→The Team Safety Rep will be appointed by the Association and Team. There are no prerequisites to fill this position as long as the individual completes the necessary training.

Coaching and Bench Staff 

(September 9)  Q- I took the Development 1 clinic last year and am looking to become certified this season. I need to have someone come to my practice for an evaluation, what is the process this season?
The GTHL Development 1 certification process, which includes in person practice evaluations, will be put on hold until September of 2021.

(September 3) Q- What qualifications do I need to coach this season?
Please visit the Bench Staff Requirements for 2020-21 page for more information.

(Added August 26) Q- Can I coach in an unsanctioned League as well as the GTHL?
A→ No. Coaches who are registered to a bench may not coach in an unsanctioned League.

(Added August 7) Q- What’s happening with coaching clinics for the 2020-21 season?
A→.Coaching clinics will not be held in person during the 2020-21 season. Hockey Canada and the OHF are currently working on a plan for training NEW coaches for this season. More information will be released in the coming weeks.

(Added June 30) Q- Can I go out on the ice with my players if I’m a Licensed Hockey Canada Skills Instructor?
A→ Yes. This would give you insurance under Hockey Canada.


(Added May 7) Q – Considering the financial strain placed on families by the loss of income and deferred payments, has the GTHL considered ways to make competitive hockey more affordable for the 20-21 season?
A  The GTHL has formed a working group comprised of Board, Club and staff representatives. This group will be looking at best practices that could be implemented to assist in lowering the expense to parents and families

Questions on the Cancellation of the 2019-20 GTHL Season

Q- My daughter is on a team that has a chance at a GTHL championship.  I know that Hockey Canada has shut down hockey for the season, but I still hope that there might be a chance that hockey will go on, especially for playoff teams.  Is that possible?
A→No, hockey for this season is over.

Q- The Hockey Canada announcement also says that all “sanctioned activities” are to be shut down.  I’m new to this.  What does “sanctioned activities” mean?
A→Hockey Canada sanctioned activities include all games, playoffs, try-outs, practices, camps, team activities (that includes team parties and banquets), programs and Provincial, Regional, and National Championships.

Q- What does this mean for non-sanctioned hockey leagues?
A→Non-sanctioned leagues operate outside of Hockey Canada’s bylaws and regulations. If they continue to operate, they would be doing so of their own accord.

Q- Does this announcement impact all hockey participants in Canada?
A→No, it impacts participants who are registered through Hockey Canada and the Member Branch.  The GTHL is a member of Hockey Canada.

Q- How does this Hockey Canada announcement affect the FirstShift and other grassroots programming?
A→The Hockey Canada decision to cancel the remainder of the hockey season includes all grassroots programming.  The FirstShift program is included.

Q- If one of our players tests positive who should we report to?
A→You should report this to the GTHL Office (Scott Oakman or Michelle Fata) and advise the other players and team officials from the team.

(Updated March 18) Q-Is the GTHL office closed for the foreseeable future?
A→Right now the GTHL office is closed to the general public and staff are working from home. Please leave a voicemail or e-mail staff if you wish to reach them. 

Q-Is the Trillium grant still operational/available?

Q-How will playoff finals be addressed.  No winners no losers?
A→The season is over. The League will not be declaring any Playoff winners.

Q- My daughter was playing on a team that was in the playoffs.  The season was shut down by the league.   So I get a refund?
A→This is a decision that will be made by the organization where your daughter played. Please contact them for more information.

(Added March 16) Q-What will happen to Spring tryouts for the 2020-21 season?
A→The Ontario Hockey Federation and it’s Member Partners, including the GTHL, have decided that no tryouts for the 2020-21 season will not be conducted in the Spring. Click here to read the full statement. 


3-on-3 and 4-on-4 Hockey

Period 1 allows for 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 on-ice play between the same 20 players on the same team.

Coaches, players, and officials are encouraged to acquaint themselves with the rules for 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 that will be enforced during Period 1.

Click here for the playing rules for 3-on-3 and 4-on-4

Graphics for officials are available for officials to review prior to games



Arena Protocols

In addition to protocols outlined in the GTHL Game Plan, each facility will have their own safety measures in place. Please review before heading to the rink to ensure participants follow proper protocol. Not all arenas have their protocols listed on their website. Visit the arenas page on the GTHL website if you wish to call ahead.

Chesswood Arena

Erin Mills Twin Arenas

Etobicoke Canlan

Ford Performance Centre 

Huron Park Recreation Centre

Iceland Arena

Leaside Gardens

Paramount Fine Foods Centre

Paramount Ice Complex 

Paul Coffey Arena

Scarborough Canlan

Scotiabank Pond

Ted Reeve Arena

Tomken Arena

Vaughan Sports Village

Westwood Arena

York University Canlan



Bench Staff Requirements 2020-21

Coach Requirements 2020-21v5The GTHL will be following Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF) requirements for coaches entering the 2020-21 season. The outlined requirements will be for all coaches (house league, select, A, AA, & AAA) who wish to be rostered to a team. Previously trained coaches may already have many of these requirements.

A Development 1 “Certified” Status will not be a requirement in the 2020-21 season. High Performance 1 for U14 and above AAA will not be a requirement this season. Coaches with an expiring or expired certified status can continue to participate in professional development through the Coaching Association of Canada at . The GTHL Development 1 certification process, which includes in person practice evaluations, will be put on hold until September of 2021. Trainer Level 2 will not be a requirement.

We anticipate that in the 2021/2022 season we will be able to provide full clinics similar to what we have previously provided either in-person, online, or in combination. 2020-21 coaches will be required to have the appropriate in-class clinic training when requirements revert fully back to normal. Coaches will have until October 7th to complete the requirements.

Please visit the Bench Staff Requirements 2020-21 page for more information.


From the Video Room

The GTHL will be posting regular video updates to address questions surrounding the return to hockey. This update was recorded by Peter Kourtis (General Manager) and Scott Oakman (Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer) on July 23, 2020.

Click here for past segments.