Sources tell TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger that while there has been a number of discussions between the OHL and the provincial government on return to play, there has been no official decision on removing bodychecking from the league.

Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister of sport, said Friday afternoon that removing purposeful physical contact from the game was a necessary step to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

"We do recognize - and I'm probably not as popular with my own family on this - that it's limited contact so it would be incidental contact, not checking," MacLeod explained at a conference for the Empire Club of Canada.

MacLeod said the initiative was influenced by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, which had several COVID-19 outbreaks on its teams earlier this fall.

OHL commissioner Dave Branch joined TSN 1050’s First Up on Friday and was asked about MacLeod’s proposed rule of removing body checking.

“[MacLeod’s] door has been open, her energy, enthusiasm and passion is unquestioned… we’re very fortunate.” Branch said. “In terms of playing rules, we believe there is need for discussion in that area, but it’s well down the list.

David Branch on the OHL's planned return, dealing with the closed border, fans in the stands and more

OHL commissioner Dave Branch joins the show to discuss the OHL's planned February return, if they plan to have fans in the stands, potential rule changes and more.

He added, “We’re working to get our facilities [open], hopefully to some spectators, border issues, and then we’ll get into playing rules.”

“Science will tell us what we can and can’t do in that area and I have every confidence our government will support our needs and wants.”

The OHL announced on Thursday that it plans to start a shortened season on Feb. 4.

Files from The Canadian Press were used for this report.