Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has asked Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau to relax coronavirus-related travel restrictions in order to bolster Edmonton’s chances of becoming an NHL hub city.
Kenney outlined to Trudeau in a letter dated Tuesday just how Edmonton could keep NHL players and staff safe, including the establishment of a “quarantine zone” that includes using hotels linked to the arena. He said local public health officials support the plan.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that the NHL will end its current hiatus with 24 teams resuming play in a playoff format in two hub cities as soon as July. He announced nine finalists for the two hub cities. Edmonton, Alberta is one of the finalist cities.
However, the league has also indirectly stated that Canada would need to relax border and quarantine restrictions, like the United States did this week, before the league would select a Canadian city as a hub location.
“If we’re not able to really get an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in and not have to do a strict self-quarantine in a hotel room … we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city,” NHL deputy commissioner Daly said yesterday.
On Thursday British Columbia’s health minister Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province will not modify its rules to allow the NHL teams to use Vancouver as one of its hub cities for the expanded 24 team Stanley Cup Playoffs, ultimately withdrawing the city from consideration.
The Vancouver Canucks have subsequently threatened to move training camp south of the boarder.
Early stages, but Canucks considering moving training camp to US to avoid 14-day quarantine for players returning to Canada.
— Iain MacIntyre (@imacSportsnet) May 27, 2020
Under the plan laid out by Bettman on Tuesday, each hub city will have secure arenas, practice facilities, hotels and local transportation for players, coaches and essential staffs. Teams will be limited to a staff of just 50 members in each hub city, and fewer will be permitted in event areas. Each hub city will have a comprehensive system of coronavirus testing set up before any play resumes.
By Jon Sorensen