Canada approves border exemption from Stanley Cup semi-finals
The NHL will be able to play in Canada, if necessary, for the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs after a decision by the Canadian government on Sunday to issue an exemption for cross-border travel.
The decision allows teams to cross the Canada-U.S. Border for games under modified quarantine, starting with the Stanley Cup semi-finals. The teams will also be subject to reinforced protocols.
“The National Hockey League is very grateful for the decision of the Canadian government and federal health authorities to allow the Canadian team that qualifies for the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup and, potentially, the final of host games in their own rinks, ”said the NHL MP. Commissioner Bill Daly said Sunday.
The Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens are the two Canadian teams that remain in the playoffs. They face off in the second round of the Stanley Cup, with the Canadiens having a 3-0 lead in the top seven series. The winner will face off against the winner of the Vegas Golden Knights-Colorado Avalanche series. The Avalanche leads 2-1.
The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 19, 2020. Currently, travelers arriving in Canada are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The arrival and departure of Canada by private jet, daily COVID-19 tests and a modified quarantine bubble for teams are part of the protocols. For the most part, teams playing in Canada in the semi-finals, and potentially the Stanley Cup Final, will be limited to the hotel and the rink, and interaction with the public will be limited as much as possible.
The NHL revised its divisional roster for this season, creating the Scotia North Division, which included all seven teams based in Canada. All games were intradivisional between the four divisions, eliminating the need to cross the Canada-US border.
The Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) and Toronto FC, FC Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS) have moved to the United States to avoid cross-border travel and play regular season games during the 2021 regular season.
The NHL led the 2020 playoffs completely in Canada, using quarantine bubble setups in Toronto and Edmonton.
During the 2020-21 regular season, teams based in Canada played their games without the presence of fans. The Canadiens and Jets have each allowed a limited number of fully vaccinated fans to participate in their most recent games. Montreal had 2,500 fans for its Game 6 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Stanley Cup first round, and Winnipeg gave up 500 healthcare workers for Game 1 and Game 2 of the second round.