NHL Might Hold Playoffs In The U.S. Due To Border Restrictions
The NHL will resume the 2019-2020 season starting with the playoffs in the coming months. However, the playoff location remains uncertain as the league decides between the U.S. and Canada.
The NHL invites hub cities from the two countries to participate. However, the current situation suggests that the league might resort to using its U.S. facilities for playoffs and training camps due to strict border restrictions. Both the U.S. and Canada both plan to extend their bans on non-essential travel to late July. The ban was supposed to expire on June 21.
In addition to border restrictions, logistic plans and Canada’s 14-day quarantine are also an issue. Outsiders entering Canada must self-isolate for two weeks, including active players of the NHL. This protocol will take up too much time.
Calgary Flames General Manager Brad Treliving, one of the active representatives of the NHL during the pandemic, pointed out the problems they might face if the league decides to hold the playoffs in Canada:
“The logistics have been worked on for a camp in the U.S., if need be… I don’t want guys coming back to Calgary and sitting on their butts for two weeks in their condos and being out of shape when it’s time to go again. It may make more sense for us to have camp in the U.S. so we can have guys together quicker and be productive. The quarantine issue is a big one.”
In line with Canada’s strict border restriction, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly also noted that the 14-day quarantine would likely take out Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto from their roster of hub cities for the return-to-play plan. Each location can support 12 teams with at least 50 people each, so Canada actually has promising spaces and facilities.
Regardless of the current situation, no decision has been made yet. The U.S. and Canada approach COVID-19 containment differently. In the coming weeks, the latter might ease its border restrictions. As such, the NHL is still waiting for the new protocols imposed by cities and health professionals.