In order to play this season, the National Hockey League’s seven Canadian teams may have to play all of their 2021 games south of the border in the United States, according to ESPN.
Originally, the NHL was planning on creating an all-Canadian division for this season as the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential business. But, Canadian health authorities are not impressed with some of the NHL’s proposed safety protocols, a development that could lead to games not being allowed to be played in the country.
“The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Public Health Agency of Canada André Gagnon told Sportsnet. “The resumption of sports events in Canada must be undertaken in adherence to Canada’s measures to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19. NHL teams and other professional sports teams must operate within the rules of their provincial jurisdictions for sports or sporting events.”
Although it’s not clear where each franchise would be relocated, the NHL is now prepping to have the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens play all their games in the U.S.
A similar situation in the NBA has resulted in the Toronto Raptors planning to start the basketball season calling Tampa, Florida, home.
The NHL is hoping to play a 56-game season starting on January 13 but a number of issues, including the possible retraction of the all-Canada division, have to be ironed out before that hope becomes a reality.
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