US-based NHL teams will be able to travel into Canada for the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs after the Canadian government decided Sunday to allow cross-border transit.
American clubs travelling into Canada for the best-of-seven semi-finals and potentially the championship series would be required to have a modified quarantine setting with enhanced Covid-19 safety protocols.
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“The National Hockey League is very appreciative of the decision by the Canadian government and the federal health officials to allow the Canadian team that advances to the Stanley Cup semifinals, and potentially the final, to host games in their own rinks,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Sunday.
The Montreal Canadiens own a 2-0 lead over the Winnipeg Jets in the North Division final with the winner to meet either the Vegas Golden Knights or Colorado Avalanche in the NHL semi-finals. Colorado leads that series 2-1.
The Canadian border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 19, 2020, with travellers arriving in Canada facing a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Proocols for any NHL club traveling into Canada include arrival and departure by private jet, daily Covid-19 testing and a modified quarantine bubble.
Teams would be limited to the hotel and rink with minimal interaction with the public.
Covid-19 forced the NHL to realign divisions for this season, with all seven Canadian teams playing in one division and against only each other all season long, with no need to cross the US border until the last four teams stage of the playoffs.
Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and three Major League Soccer clubs are playing matches in US venues due to the tight travel restrictions.
Last year, the NHL played the entire playoffs in quarantine bubbles at Toronto and Edmonton.