The National Hockey League's Canadian division is facing a huge hurdle and it may be one that the league will be unable to overcome.
On Saturday The Fourth Period's David Pagnotta was the first to report that the Canadian division was facing some potential obstacles with only 4 of the 5 provinces involved on board with the National Hockey League's plan to play out the 2021 season inside of Canada, although at the time Pagnotta did not provide any details regarding the identity of the dissenting province.
Now however an update from TSN's Ryan Rishaug has revealed that, as many had speculated, it is the province of British Columbia that is currently holding up the process. More specifically Rishaug reports that the British Columbia government is refusing to let teams travel into the province in order to play NHL games, this in spite of the fact that the league has already come forward with additional safety protocols today in an attempt to find a resolution to this problem.
Many fans will remember that Vancouver was initially among the cities earmarked to be one of the NHL's return to play bubbles for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but a failure to reach a deal with the government at the time saw those plans fall apart. This time there are rumors that the NHL has several contingency plans in place, including once again using the Edmonton bubble to play out the necessary games or even moving the whole show across the border and having all NHL teams play out the season in the United States. Given that all reports right now suggest British Columbia remains the lone dissenting province I would suspect that such drastic measures will not be necessary, but this could mean unfavorable conditions for the Vancouver Canucks and their players in the 2021 season.
All indications are that the league wants to have the Canadian teams playing in their home arenas and should the Canucks be the only team unable to do so, it would likely put them at a competitive disadvantage. A scenario where the Canucks would be forced to play in another city would mean far less nights spent in your own bed for every Canucks player, and fewer nights spent with family for those that it would apply to.
Only time will tell if the NHL can find a way to get the rubber stamp from the BC government.