Canada Will Allow NHL Teams To Cross Border Without Quarantine
Teams will be required to stay in a bubble and be tested daily for COVID-19, similar to the tight restrictions that allowed the NHL to complete its playoffs in two hub cities last year.
The NHL has received an exemption from Canadian health officials to allow cross-border travel for teams starting in the semifinal round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers entering Canada are required to enter a two-week period of isolation upon arrival, with few exceptions.
Under the NHL's exemption, teams will be required to stay in a bubble and be tested daily for COVID-19, similar to the tight restrictions that allowed the league to complete its playoffs in two hub cities last year. Teams will be assigned designated hotels and have no interaction with the public.
The ruling means the West Division champion will be allowed into Canada to play the North Division winner. The league semifinal will be a best-of-seven series, with at least Games 3 and 4 played in Canada. Game 6, if needed, would also be in Canada.
The Montreal Canadiens lead the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 in the best-of-seven North Division final. The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche have each won two-games in their best-of-seven West Division final.
The exemption will stay in place in the event Winnipeg or Montreal advances to the Stanley Cup final.
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 6-4 on Saturday to take a 3-1 lead in the South Division's best-of-seven series.
The winner of Lightning-Hurricanes series would face the Boston Bruins or New York Islanders in the other league semifinal. The Bruins and Islanders are tied 2-2 in their North Division playoff.
Should the Lightning advance to the Stanley Cup final, it could play a Canadian team and would have to make the trip across the border for at least two games, and possibly a third.
Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino’s spokesman Alexander Cohen said the NHL decision was made in conjunction with the Public Health Agency of Canada and with approval from the Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba governments.
Border restrictions prevented NHL teams from traveling between the U.S. and Canada during a shortened 56-game regular season. The league was limited to interdivision play, leading led to the creation of a North Division made up of the NHL’s seven Canadia-based franchises.
The restrictions led to the NBA’s Toronto Raptors playing their season at Tampa's Amalie Arena and Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays playing the first part of their regular season in Dunedin's TD Ballpark before moving to Buffalo, New York, this month.
Health News Florida's Rick Mayer contributed to this report.