The Canucks are interested in hosting games in Vancouver this summer, and BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry doesn’t think it’s a bad idea.
While it still remains unclear if the NHL will be able to complete the 2019-20 season, plans are being put in place just in case. The league is currently looking at staging games in four hub cities, representing the NHL’s four divisions, this summer.
Vancouver, along with Edmonton, is in the running for the Pacific Division, the Canucks have confirmed.
“We would certainly have a strong interest in hosting games in Vancouver if the NHL decides to move forward with the hub city scenario, provided the plan is in accordance with guidelines set by health authorities and the provincial government,” said Canucks COO Trent Carroll in a statement provided to Daily Hive. “For the time being we will continue to have dialogue with all stakeholders and assess feedback and information as it becomes available prior to any decision.”
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Dr. Henry was asked about the possibility during her daily media briefing, and she seemed positive about the idea.
“One of the groups that I’ve been a part of for quite a long time is a WHO group that looks at mass gatherings and we’ve been looking at how you can have this type of sporting event safely around the world,” said Henry. “Obviously in Europe one of their big issues is the soccer seasons finishing.
“There are ways that we can do it safely. I think it’s an interesting idea. I think there are ways that we could look at having games being played, perhaps in BC. Hockey would be one that we could certainly look at.
“There would be parameters that we’ve talked about. I would not see there being an [in-stadium] audience for example, but we could broadcast the games. And there’s ways that players can take precautions to ensure that there’s physical distancing. When we think of hockey, which I love, people are wearing face masks. There’s ways that players are protected when they’re on the ice.
“I absolutely think that these are the types of things that we need to think about how we can do them safely during this summer.”
What’s not clear is what Dr. Henry meant about players “wearing face masks.” Nearly every player in the league currently wears a visor to protect their eyes, but players’ mouths are exposed.
Vancouver appears to be as well suited as any other NHL city to pull something like this off. BC has been relatively successful at flattening the curve, and has more than enough infrastructure to host multiple games in one day.
Games could be played at Rogers Arena, but the Pacific Coliseum and UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre are both located nearby and can be set-up for television broadcasts if need be.
Players, coaches, and staff could also be put up at one of the many nearby downtown hotels.
With eight Pacific Division teams participating, there would be no more than four games being played in one day, though ice would need to be available for practice. Scotia Barn in Burnaby, which has eight rinks under one roof, could also be useful in this situation.