If the NHL plans are not approved by the provincial health authorities, there will be no NHL hockey in Canada next season.
The dreams of all the Canadian division in the NHL next season may go up in smoke.
The NHL aims to advance the 2020-21 NHL season among existing COVID-19 epidemics, but the league may be in trouble with provincial health officials across Canada.
At one time, the primary barrier to playing in Canada during the season was the closed U.S.-Canada border, which prevented American teams from playing for Canada. The proposed solution to this problem in the NHL is the all-Canadian division, with all teams playing in the division only during the regular season. It solves the border issue, but there are other issues within Canada.
One step Report by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, The NHL has a plan if it can’t solve those problems: move seven Canadian teams to the United States
The report came just hours after the Canucks Twitter account tweeted that Rogers Arena was training camp and ready to go for the upcoming season.
Beginner and ready for action. 👀 pic.twitter.com/HvNtxUxt4c
– Vancouver #Connex (an Connex) December 17, 2020
The plan for all Canadian divisions is not subject to federal approval, but from five separate provincial health authorities: BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Each of those provincial health officials has different regulations that complicate NHL programs.
For example, Manitoba requires 14 days of self-isolation for any traveler entering the province from the east of Terrace Bay, Ontario. That control makes it impossible for Ottawa senators, Toronto maple leaves and Montreal Canadians to play road games in Winnipeg.
This restriction also applies to residents of western Canada heading east of Terrace Bay within 14 days of entering Manitoba, so it may also affect Connox, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers if they go on a road trip. The extra complexity of planning the season is dazzling.
All five provinces currently have restrictions on public meetings that may affect the games they play. With each team having 20 players per game, four ice officers, more ice officers, and training and coaching staff, each NHL game violates even the looser restrictions of gathering up to 50 people before. In many provinces, let alone tough restrictions in recent months.
The challenge for the NHL comes with adequate security plans to bypass the congregation of five provinces, allowing them to circumvent those restrictions.
The Public Health Organization of Canada is currently coordinating discussions between the NHL and provincial health officials. Although the agency does not have the authority to make decisions for the provinces, spokesman Andre Cagnon issued the following statement:
“The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Sports events in Canada should be resumed following Canada’s efforts to curb the import and spread of COVID-19. NHL teams and other professional sports teams must operate within the provincial jurisdiction of sports and sporting events. ”
Cities interested in hosting the NHL Games are certainly in the United States. Ottawa Senators reporter Bruce Carrio suggested that Kansas City, Milwaukee, Austin and Orlando could come forward to treat Canadian teams. Kansas City, in particular, comes up frequently in NHL expansion talks.
Conax, for what it is worth, has connections with those two cities. When the Kansas City Plates were coached by Stan Small in 2000-01, Kanks’ I.H.L.
Similarly, the Milwaukee Admirals were affiliates of the Conax IHL from 1988-1993, with the likes of Gino Odzik, Gary Vaughn, and Troy Gamble spending time in Milwaukee en route to Vancouver.
The backup plan for Canadian teams to play in the United States will not be a popular one for players who are forced to leave their families in Canada for several months at a time. The relocation of entire families south of the border could cause further problems, so the NHL’s priority is ongoing negotiations with provincial health officials.
At the same time, the idea can find some support among Canadian owners, many of whom face the opportunity to play the entire season without fans in their arena. Moving to American cities where fans can attend games can be an attractive opportunity. However, it is not without its own problems.
The NHL is not in trouble in Canada because there are strict restrictions in some parts of the United States that can prevent games. The San Jose Sharks, for example, are planning to hold their training camp in Scottsdale, Arizona, instead of their home ring, due to restrictions in Santa Clara County.
While trying to play this season in isolated bubbles as they did during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the NHL is exploring the possibility of central cities hosting multiple teams, playing a kind of mini-competition between all teams before moving on to another center.
This is a form in which the NHL can be seen playing in Canada if it can come to an agreement with some provincial health officials, but not others.