Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is asking Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, to set aside coronavirus-related travel restrictions to bolster Edmonton’s chances of becoming an NHL hub city.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday that the NHL will end its current hiatus with 24 teams resuming play in a playoff format in two hub cities as soon as late July.
Three Canadian cities - Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver - are among the 10 cities under consideration to host the playoffs, but Bettman said Canadian cities could be eliminated if the nation doesn’t exempt NHL personnel from border crossing rules.
Kenney outlined to Trudeau in a letter dated Tuesday just how Edmonton could keep NHL players and staff safe, including the establishment of a “quarantine zone” that includes using hotels linked to the arena. He said local public health officials support the plan.
“Alberta began its phased relaunch of our economy on May 14, and there have been no measurable increases in the case numbers for coronavirus in the province. New COVID-19 cases in Edmonton are averaging one per day, with recovered cases far outweighing any new infections,” he wrote.
Under the plan laid out by Bettman on Tuesday, each hub city will have secure arenas, practice facilities, hotels and local transportation for players, coaches and essential staffs. Teams will be limited to a staff of just 50 members in each hub city, and fewer will be permitted in event areas. Each hub city will have a comprehensive system of coronavirus testing set up before any play resumes.
--Field Level Media
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