We are still swallowing the tough pill that the National Hockey League may be forced to move its Canadian teams down to the U.S. if it can’t come to agreements with provincial health authorities between now and the planned league start date of Jan 13th, 2021, but the league is not giving up hope to see the seven clubs play in their respective city.
In order to limit travel within the country, thereby getting around Canadian and American border restrictions, this plan requires the approval of health authorities from five different provinces, something that has been difficult to attain. The COVID-19 situations in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia are vastly different and changing seemingly everyday. This has made it extremely difficult for the league to negotiate its protocols.
However, Randip Janda of Sportsnet has just reported that the NHL has reached out to the Public Health Agency of Canada to facilitate a meeting with provincial health officers to present their Canadian division plan again. We still await the responses from health officers.
“The meeting would take place next week, but as of yet, there hasn’t been a response from health officers.”
We expect that this will have an impact on the league’s plan to kick off the shortened season on January 13th. The start date could therefore be pushed back, or even see the schedule lose some games on the calendar.
TSN’s Rick Westhead also revealed that “Covid-19 numbers are exploding and Southern Ontario is likely to be locked down until mid-Jan at least.” This could have bad consequences on the NHL’s plan to convince provincial health officers of their Canadian division plan.