Extended Closure Of U.S.-Canada Border Could Hamper NHL Return
The question of whether the NHL, or any pro sports, is an "essential service" resurfaced yesterday after Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that closure of the Canada-U.S. border "would be extended from May 21 to June 21 for non-essential services and travel," according to Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver PROVINCE. Teams are "operating under the assumption, and hope, that the league’s latest self-isolation edict will be lifted by the end of the month." That would allow "small groups to train and possibly skate in anticipation of a training camp, and eventual resumption of play." However, people arriving in Canada from the U.S. or Europe "would face an additional 14-day quarantine period." Trudeau has placed a "strict minimum quarantine for players returning from abroad, and his border dealings with the NHL are still in the discussion stage" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 5/20). NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an email said he is "hopeful" that the extended border closure "will not materially impact our return to play planning." In Winnipeg, Scott Billeck notes exemptions have been made to the mandatory self-isolation policy, and while they are "not specifically stated in the exemptions, provisions could be made for pro athletes, and may already be in place" (WINNIPEG SUN, 5/20).
CLOCK IS TICKING: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote, "We are clearly running out of runway here, which makes the league's unwillingness to commit a little frustrating." It is "a little bewildering that the league hasn't at least put out some sort of framework of how the rest of the regular season and playoffs would look if it can return to play." The timing is "obviously out of the league's hands, but there is a growing sentiment that the NHL should get something out soon, with all qualifiers and caveats attached to it." That would "at least keep fans engaged until they know whether or not the league can pull this off from a logistical standpoint" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 5/19).