Toronto’s bid to become a hub city for the NHL’s return to play this summer got a huge boost on Tuesday with backing from both the federal and provincial governments.
“We have indicated that we are comfortable with moving forward on an NHL hub in one of three Canadian cities that are asking for it,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his daily briefing. “Obviously the decision needs to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction. Canada is open to it as long as it is okay by the local health authorities.”
Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver are all hoping to be one of two hub cities that will host 12 of the 24 teams that remain alive in an expanded playoff format that is the result of the season being paused on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Ontario is committed to working with public health (as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the NHL) to support Toronto as a hub city,” Lisa McLeod, Ontario minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture, tweeted moments after Trudeau’s statement.
The NHL is hoping to start training camps July 10. The NHL identified 10 cities that could properly house the teams, meaning there are enough hotel rooms and practice facilities. Las Vegas is considered the front-runner among American cities.
Currently, anyone travelling into Canada must self-quarantine for 14 days, an obstacle the NHL needed to address if it decided to hold games there. But the idea of group-quarantining has been raised.
The NHL is currently in what it calls Stage 2 of its Return to Play plan. That includes allowing players to practice in small groups without coaches.
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