The three Canadian cities shortlisted to play host to the NHL playoffs will be skipped over by the league if players are forced to quarantine in their hotels rooms after arriving, the NHL’s deputy commissioner says.
Vancouver, Toronto and Edmonton are all being considered by the league as it looks to re-start play as early as July. But NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says a mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers could stand in the way of those cities being chosen.
“If in fact we are not able to really find an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in, and not be able to do a strict quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city,” Daly said Tuesday.
“We are forced to having to find a solution for that.”
There are some creative solutions Canadian cities could offer, Daly said. The NHL could book out an entire hotel and allow players to quarantine together while having the flexibility to use the amenities in the building.
British Columbia’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has not signed off on any possible creative ideas because she has not received a plan from the NHL yet.
She has said the province would not waive any of the existing rules, including a mandatory 14-day self-isolation for anyone arriving into British Columbia from outside of the country — not even for the NHL.
“We’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk. I’ve yet to see a plan,” Henry said.
“I’m happy to see what we can do, but we won’t be changing rules that would put anybody at risk or would undo the good work that we have done so far in B.C.”
Premier John Horgan has met with both Daly and Commissioner Gary Bettman about Vancouver’s hub city bid.
Horgan says he is thrilled the Vancouver Canucks have made the playoffs in the amended format, and says Vancouver’s hub city bid would need to conform under existing rules.
“I think Canadians are going to be happy to see the NHL back, but we are going to have to do it in the best interest of the players and the communities they operate in,” Horgan said.
“I’m resolute we want to support the Canucks in whatever endeavor they go forward in, but we want to make sure the rules are the same for everyone. That is a Canadian tenant.”
The strength of Vancouver’s bid as a hub city is based on low rates of transmission of COVID-19 compared to other NHL cities and a track record of hosting multi-team sporting events.
Sport Minister Lisa Beare has been working with the Vancouver Canucks to co-ordinate the use of Rogers Arena, and potentially other arenas in Metro Vancouver and other parts of the province.
The NHL is looking for cities with the right facilities, enough hotel spaces and a good track record dealing with COVID-19. B.C. reported 11 new confirmed cases of the virus on Tuesday, continuing a trend of low daily case counts.
“If I was bringing my family from another part of North American or from Europe, would I want to spend a summer in Edmonton, Toronto or Vancouver? I think Vancouver speaks for itself,” Horgan said.
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