VANCOUVER – When the Canadian federal government waived the mandatory 14-day quarantine for NHL players coming into the country to participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, many assumed it paved the way for at least one of its cities to be a hub for the league.
But there remain a few local hurdles in Vancouver.
After reports on the weekend that the NHL planned to come back from the coronavirus shutdown in Las Vegas and Vancouver, Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reported late Tuesday that Vancouver’s bid to host 12 teams had hit a “snag.”
A source indicates discussions between the NHL and provincial and regional health officials to finalize plans for Vancouver are believed to have identified a couple of key concerns: protocol if a player or players test positive for COVID-19 within the “bubble” the league wants to create, and the risk of transmission to the community through outside workers who come into contact with teams.
There’s a snag with Vancouver’s hub bid (and possibly Edmonton’s and Toronto’s?)
June 24 2020
As Friedman reported, it’s unclear to what degree these issues could scuttle the Vancouver bid, but the NHL is eager to finalize its hub cities. An announcement could come this week.
Edmonton and Toronto, which re-submitted its bid to the NHL after broadening and strengthening its proposed bubble, are the other Canadian candidates to stage playoff games.
Despite rising COVID numbers in Nevada – and several areas of the United States – the NHL reportedly still considers Las Vegas a hub city front-runner due to the scope and security of the bubble that massive MGM Resorts can provide around T-Mobile Arena. Los Angeles and Chicago are the other hub city candidates in the U.S.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the NHL’s return to Canada last week by amending the country’s 14-day mandatory quarantine requirement for NHLers arriving from abroad. Players will be allowed to quarantine together so they can practise and train.
Whatever happens in Vancouver hub bid — @FriedgeHNIC reported a “snag” on Tuesday — Canucks are expected to hold July training camp at home. Players subject to 14-day group quarantine being asked to return this weekend.
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) June 24, 2020
“Canada is open to it as long as it is OK’d by the local health authorities,” Trudeau said.
NHL staff has been talking to local health authorities since then.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning and chief operating officer Trent Carroll have praised B.C. and Vancouver Coastal Health authorities throughout the coronavirus shutdown for their leadership and support.
The province reported only 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – Alberta had 45, Ontario 216 – and at 32.7 deaths-per-million, British Columbia has one of the lowest mortality rates of any major jurisdiction in North America and Europe. B.C. chief medical officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has become a superstar, one of the most popular public figures in the province.
“Ultimately, we want to pick the safest cities,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet in May. “And ‘safest’ goes to what the condition of the virus is in the city and whether the city has it under control and the health facilities that are available.”