The NHL has a plan, but they’re missing a stamp of approval from at least one provincial government.
The BC government “remains unwilling” to allow NHL teams travel into the province for games, according to a report TSN’s Ryan Rishaug.
League source says at this point the BC government remains unwilling to allow NHL teams to travel into the province for games. That may change as discussions continue, but remains their position as of now, even with the added safety protocols outlined today by @frank_seravalli
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) December 20, 2020
This could cause problems for the Vancouver Canucks, who are hoping to host games at Rogers Arena for the first time since March 10, albeit without fans in attendance.
NHL owners and players reached a tentative agreement on a 56-game season on Friday, with the season beginning on January 13. The plan, which is still subject to change, calls for an all-Canadian division, with the seven Canadian teams playing the entire season among themselves.
Unlike the playoffs last summer, it would not involve a bubble, and teams would play games in their home arenas. That means that cross-country travel would be involved, which appears to be a concern for the BC government given rising COVID-19 numbers across Canada.
NHL teams travel on private planes, and according to a report from TSN’s Frank Seravalli, players and staff will have strict rules limiting their movement in road cities to the game rink, practice rink, and team hotel. Players and staff will also be tested for the virus on a regular basis.
Language in protocol continues to change, and will further with input from provincial health authorities.
No guests in hotel rooms. No use of hotel gym. No housekeeping. Assigned seats on buses and planes. In-flight catering eliminated where feasible, etc.
It's all spelled out.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 19, 2020
If the NHL and BC government can’t come to an agreement, it could force the Canucks to temporarily relocate to another Canadian city outside of the province.
The two sides can still come to an agreement, but a decision will need to be made soon. NHL training camps are currently set to begin on January 3, which is just over two weeks away.