Earlier today, the federal governments for Canada and the United States of America have agreed to extend their border closure for an additional 30 days.
Check it out:
Technically the border is still open to “essential” traffic, but all non-essential travel is prohibited. You have to imagine then, that if the NHL were to move on to “Phase 2” of its plan that the league will need to get an exemption from both Canada and the USA in order to travel for training and, eventually, to play games.
Anything is possible, I suppose, but it doesn’t seem likely that hockey players will be deemed “essential workers”.
In any case, this is a move that has been anticipated for awhile now. While Canada has begun “re-opening” in stages due to how the country has managed COVID-19, the USA is struggling to keep things under control. The United States has 1.5 million confirmed cases of the virus, compares to just 80,000 in Canada.
UPDATE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has officially responded to today's news saying that it "will not materially affect the resumption of play timelines we are currently contemplating."
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So... does this mean the NHL didn't plan on returning in the next 30 days anyways? What happens when the border closure is extended an additional 30 days and beyond then?
Or... does it mean that the NHL, its players and its employees won't be affected by the border closure? After all, the players all have international VISAS which by definition designates them as essential workers. I mean, if the WWE and UFC can go ahead in Florida with athletes from around the world, you have to imagine that the NHL can go ahead under similar protocols?
Stay tuned, there's obviously a lot more to come concerning these developments.