The Alberta Government has approved the NHL's plan to play in 2021. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Alberta approves NHL games for Edmonton, Calgary; feds waive 14-day quarantine rule

Alberta is the first province to officially say the NHL can play games in its arenas for the upcoming season.

In a statement to The Canadian Press on Thursday, the Alberta government said it approved Edmonton and Calgary for competition on Dec. 25 following the review of protocols outlined in the league’s return-to-play plan, along with some additional enhancements.

That confirmation is the first from any of the five provinces with NHL teams since deputy commissioner Bill Daly stated on Dec. 24 that the league believes it can play games in all seven Canadian markets.

Those franchises north of the 49th parallel will only play each other during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs as part of a newly-formed North Division, and won’t be crossing the border with the United States, which remains closed to non-essential travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daly’s Dec. 24 statement came after TSN and Sportsnet reported Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, sent a note to the league on behalf of the provinces asking for increased testing or a return to a scenario in which all teams would be in a secure zone in one city, like the NHL did this summer in Edmonton and Toronto.

In a separate statement Thursday, the federal government said it has issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff returning to Canada for training camps under “national interest grounds.”

However, the provinces with NHL franchises must give their approval for games to be played between Canadian teams during the regular season, which is scheduled to start Jan. 13.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said the league’s plan for training camps offers “robust measures to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.” It added all provinces with NHL clubs have provided written support for the plan.

Daly said in an email to The Canadian Press that modified quarantine procedures for players and team staff entering the country are determined by provincial health authorities.

The Public Health Agency of Canada statement said all teams must operate within provincial rules for regular-season play.

The Ottawa Senators were one of seven clubs across the 31-team league to begin training camp Thursday after not qualifying for the summer post-season as part of the resumption of the pandemic-halted 2019-20 campaign. The other six Canadian teams are slated to open training camp Sunday or Monday.

The federal government also cleared the Toronto Blue Jays to hold training camp at Rogers Centre under “national interest grounds” this summer, but rejected a proposal for home games against teams from the U.S. The Blue Jays eventually settled on Buffalo, N.Y., as their 2020 base.

The only Canadian professional sports teams to play on home soil during the pandemic have been the six NHL clubs to qualify for the 2019-20 post-season in Toronto and Edmonton, along with Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS.

The soccer teams were cleared to take part a series of games against each other in August and September before relocating to the U.S. to face American opposition.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Many students and staff at St. Joseph High School are in COVID-19 quarantine. (File photo by JeffAdvocate staff)
St. Joseph High School students return to at-home learning today

Majority of students under COVID-19 quarantine

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. Trump is en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Supreme Court ends Trump emoluments lawsuits

Outcome leaves no judicial opinions on the books

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Military to support vaccination efforts in northern Ontario Indigenous communities

Canadian Armed Forces to support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A Shell logo is seen at a petrol station in London on January 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kirsty Wigglesworth
Shell buys European electric car charging firm ubitricity

Experts say easier access to charging facilities key to successful rollout of electric vehicles

FILE— In this Feb. 23, 2019, file photo, Vashti Cunningham poses for photographers after winning the women’s high jump final at the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships in New York. Cunningham is one of the athletes who will be competing in the American Track League, which opens a four-week-long series on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 in an indoor setting at the University of Arkansas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez. File)
Back on track: Competing, not cash, lures big names to meet

American Track League begins a four-week indoor series at the University of Arkansas

Eugene Levy, left, and his son Dan Levy accept the Best Comedy Series Award for ‘“Schitt’s Creek” at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on Sunday, March 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Dan Levy to make ‘Saturday Night Live’ hosting debut on Feb. 6

‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-creator to host show

Toronto Maple Leafs' Alexander Kerfoot, centre, tries to get the puck past Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, right, as Noah Hanifin looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Morgan Reilly’s three assists lifts Maple Leafs to 3-2 win over Flames

Leafs 3 Flames 2 CALGARY — Morgan Reilly’s three assists helped the… Continue reading

Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos (31) reacts after intercepting a pass intended for Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans during the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Road warriors: Bucs win 31-26 at Green Bay, reach Super Bowl

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ road… Continue reading

People arrive to be tested for COVID-19 at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, January 24, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Too soon to know if Canada’s COVID-19 case decline will continue, Tam says

MONTREAL — It’s still too soon to know whether the recent downward… Continue reading

Most Read