Montreal Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) reacts after scoring the winning goal on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) during the first overtime NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Montreal Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) reacts after scoring the winning goal on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) during the first overtime NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

NHL working on Canadian quarantine exemption for Stanley Cup playoffs: Sources

League working on a plan to secure permission to allow cross-border travel for semi-final round

Work is underway for a travel exemption that would let the winner of the NHL’s all-Canadian division and an American counterpart cross the border during the third and final rounds of the playoffs.

Two federal government sources say the exemption would let teams still in the Stanley Cup hunt enter Canada for games without having to isolate for 14 days, as is currently required for all non-essential travellers entering the country.

The sources, who were granted anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly, say the NHL has been working to secure approval from public health authorities in the provinces and cities that still have teams in the playoffs.

Once those signatures are collected, the request will go to federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino for final approval.

A league spokesperson said the NHL still is awaiting answers from governments.

In an email to The Canadian Press, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “It’s a work in progress.”

The sources emphasized that public health and safety would be the top priority before any approval.

The winner of Monday night’s series-deciding game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Winnipeg Jets in the North Division final.

The winner of that series will face one of three American division winners in the league semifinals. The two semifinal winners will square off for the Stanley Cup.

This will mark the first time regular cross-border travel occurs in the NHL during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last summer, the NHL concluded its season with hubs in Toronto and Edmonton, with all American teams crossing the border just once before departing.

NHL personnel were granted a special dispensation before this year’s trade deadline in April to serve only a seven-day quarantine.

The federal government also issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff to return to Canada for training camp under “national interest grounds” in December.

The league put all seven Canadian teams in one division, and they exclusively played each other to avoid cross-border travel this season.

In a best-of-seven series, one team traditionally hosts Games 1, 2, 5 and 7 and the other hosts Games 3, 4 and 6.

The NHL had said it was considering having the Canadian division winner relocate to the U.S. for the final two rounds if it could not secure approval from government.

Other Canadian professional sports teams have had to relocate to the U.S. to avoid cross-border travel.

Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays started their season playing home games in Dunedin, Fla., and will call Buffalo, N.Y., home starting on Tuesday.

Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC, CF Montreal and Vancouver Whitecaps have relocated to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Sandy, Utah, respectively.

Major League Rugby’s Toronto Arrows are now based in Marietta, Ga., while the NBA’s Toronto Raptors recently completed their season in Tampa, Fla.

Canadian pro teams in many leagues outside the NHL have a larger majority, if not a full complement, of rivals in the U.S., making cross-border travel a requirement if they are to play in Canada.

In the NHL, American teams have been allowed to have crowds throughout the playoffs. The Habs became the first Canadian team to host a crowd on Saturday when 2,500 fans watched them beat the Leafs in overtime.

That crowd was significantly smaller than those permitted in most U.S. venues.

—Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

RELATED: ‘More than just a hockey game’: NHL fans return to the Bell Centre for Habs-Leafs

CoronavirushockeyNHL

Just Posted

Launched in January, Uplift Canada was founded by Tsawwassen resident Maggie Larocque. (submitted photo)
Surrey shelters get clothing collected June 26 by Uplift Canada

Book a pickup on website of the new non-profit, founded by Delta resident

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
‘Stay-at-home mom’ works to raise $25K to help Options build housing in Surrey

Tammy Bourelle boosts ‘Women of Options’ fundraising campaign, which ends June 30

Surrey Libraries will host a series of free contests and programs for teenagers this summer. (Malin Jordan photo)
Surrey Libraries offering series of free summer programs for teens

Writing contests, virtual programs scheduled throughout summer

Emergency crews responded to a large truck fire under the Alex Fraser Bridge around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Christine Tobias/Twitter photo)
Dog dies in truck fire under Alex Fraser Bridge

No people were injured in blaze that consumed two semi-trucks around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 17

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read