The announcement we feared most has come.
The 2022 World Junior Championship has been cancelled. That's the official word as of Wednesday afternoon. No more games will be played. A temporary postponement is not an option.
This year's series was to be played over a two-week period in Alberta. A few games were played. But after several squads began experiencing symptoms and testing positive for pandemic-related infections, it was decided to scrap the remainder of tournament.
For the second straight year the tournament was in Alberta. But unlike the 2021 event in Edmonton, players and staff were not forced into a bubble environment that would provide extra protection against the virus. Teams stayed in hotels open to the public, and with the highly contagious omicron variant, even the most vigilant adherence to protocols couldn't totally prevent illnesses.
The announcement was particularly brutal for Canadian hockey fans who were eager to see if Team Canada U-20 might avenge last year's upset defeat in the finals to Team USA. The Canadian team was 2-0 in games played this week and was considered as an overwhelming favourite by oddsmakers and the betting public to win. However, that's now not a possibility.
Is there any bright side to any of this? Not really.
Let's just hope we can get through this safe and healthy. Let's also keep our fingers cross that the NHL will somehow continue to play and bring us joy and excitement.
Until next year, the World Junior Championships will be a void.