The NHL is officially welcome to play hockey in Vancouver this summer.
British Columbia Premier John Horgan said he contacted the NHL and NHLPA, offering the province as a place to restart the season.
“I have written to the head of the NHL as well as the NHL Player’s Association to offer British Columbia as a place to potentially restart the NHL, assuming that the games would be played without audiences, but instead would be played for television,” said Horgan.
Horgan’s comments come as the NHL is reportedly considering a plan to play games this summer in four hub cities. Vancouver and Edmonton are in consideration to host games between all eight Pacific Division teams.
The idea was viewed favourably by BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Monday.
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“There are ways that we can do it safely,” said Henry. “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.”
The Canucks are in favour of the idea too.
“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. “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.”
“Unfortunately, the BC Lions need to have bums in seats, and I don’t see that happening,” said Horgan. “We will be working with the CFL as well, which also creates economic activity within our community.”
As for the Vancouver Whitecaps, Major League Soccer is reportedly considering playing games without fans, perhaps in a centralized location.
It’ll be a while longer until fans will be able to fill Rogers Arena or BC Place, likely not until a vaccine is widely available.