As Canada prepares to come back to course after a long Covid-19 shutdown, the National Hockey League (NHL) is not looking forward to hosting itself in the country. The stringent self quarantine rules put down by the federal government are seemingly non-palatable to the NHL administration.
Having been out of commission since March first week, the administration does not think it is advisable for its players under a new 24 playoff format to be put into an immediate 14-day period of quarantine, even before they can hit the field to play. They may come into play from July 2020.
Many provinces in Canada have already made it clear that they will not bend the health rules to suit the needs of NHL. The Commissioner of NHL Gary Bettman recently announced the new format along with the fact that the league is planning on having two hub cities where multiple teams would play their games. One city would host Western Conference teams and the other would host the Eastern Conference teams.
So far, 10 cities have made it to the shortlist. This includes three from Canada (i.e. Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto). However according to the deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly, Canada does not look like viable option due to its stringent 14-day self quarantine rule. The other cities to make it to the list include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis/St. Paul in the U.S.
According to Dally, the availability of the players is going to be the main reason why Canadian rules might not fit into their plan. NHL might then rethink the viability of Canadian cities as hub points for the tournaments in the coming months altogether.
While Alberta isn’t on the shortlist, its stand has gathered attention. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has recently, written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressing that their province was ready for any kind of mitigation, in case it was need. But he felt that the federal government must deem professional athletes and team staff as essential workers. This would give them the opportunity to not be subjected to self-quarantine similar to what U.S. officials announced late last week.
Vancouver and Edmonton have been talking about their great infrastructural advantages and low contraction rates. But British Columbia has taken a stricter stance saying it does not intent to bend rules to be a hosting hub.
According to sports analysts, it only makes sense that the National Hockey League will choose a city in which it is not just safe for the NHL players, but also a safe environment for the people in that community that are hosting this tournament. The rates on contraction have been higher in Ontario than in Alberta and British Columbia. Climate wise, Edmonton is far more desirable than Alberta due to its lower temperatures. For the former, it is important to use the opportunity to get its dwindling economy back on its feet. Edmonton has been hit with the double economic blow; cratering oil prices and then the crippling pandemic. They are eager to host 12 NHL teams.