Lisa MacLeod Ontario's Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport attends Ontario Premier Doug Ford's daily briefing in Toronto on Monday, June 15, 2020. Ontario's minister of sport says the provincial government is examining how a Canadian division in the NHL might work.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ontario public health to weigh possibility of NHL restart as lockdown looms

Ontario public health to weigh possibility of NHL restart as lockdown looms

TORONTO — The NHL is considering having all seven Canadian teams play the upcoming season in the United States, according to multiple media reports.

The NHL was reportedly planning to realign its divisions for the 2020-21 campaign with a seven-team, all-Canadian division that would play domestically in Canada with no cross-border travel. However, reports Thursday night suggest that every Canadian team may have to head south instead to adhere to provincial guidelines around COVID-19.

“The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians. The resumption of sports events in Canada must be undertaken in adherence to Canada’s measures to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19,” the Public Health Agency of Canada said in a statement Thursday night following original reports from Sportsnet and TSN.

“NHL teams and other professional sports teams must operate within the rules of their provincial jurisdictions for sports or sporting events.

“Specific questions related to the NHL’s plans should be directed to the NHL.”

The league would need approval from health authorities in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia for a Canadian division to work, and it’s reportedly believed to have hit a roadblock.

Sportsnet reported that senior NHL executives held a conference call with the Canadian teams on Thursday afternoon and discussed the possibility of moving south of the border.

The Canadian Press reached out to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who did not comment on the current situation.

Ontario’s minister of sport, Lisa MacLeod, said earlier Thursday the provincial government is examining how a Canadian division in the NHL might work.

MacLeod said that discussions about the league’s return-to-play plan are happening at Ontario’s public health table with the province’s chief medical officer of health, as well as officials from Toronto and Ottawa.

MacLeod said that she expects to join those conversations in the next few days, as will her federal counterpart Steven Guilbeault.

“In terms of (the NHL’s) direct proposal, I believe I’m going to be briefed on that in the next day or so,” said MacLeod.

MacLeod said she spoke to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and is scheduled to again on Friday. She said she has also had conversations with the Ottawa Senators over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The league has targeted mid-January as a potential start date.

However, the Ontario Hospital Association today asked the Ontario government for a strict four-week lockdown in regions with high rates of COVID-19 positivity that would include Toronto and Ottawa.

Also, the mayors of Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., both said on Wednesday that they want a strict four-week lockdown to begin over the winter holidays to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the GTA.

Ontario reported a single-day record of 2,432 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 23 new deaths due to the virus.

The Ontario Hockey League hopes to begin its 2021 season in early February. MacLeod said that the league has not yet been cleared by Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health.

“The health and well-being of all Ontarians is the No. 1 priority of this government and we continue to put measures into place that protect people,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

NHL

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

Just Posted

Canadian Pacific Rail locomotives sit idle at the company’s Port Coquitlam yard east of Vancouver, B.C., on May 23, 2012. Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. says it will seek shareholder and regulatory approval for a five-for-one split of its common shares. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
CP Rail beats earnings forecasts as Q4 profit up 21 per cent despite softer revenues

Coal volumes fell one per cent, energy down 27 per cent

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2019, file photo, a man leaves an Apple store in Beijing. Apple says it will roll out a new privacy control in spring 2021 to prevent iPhone apps from secretly shadowing people. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)
Apple to crack down on tracking iPhone users in early spring

App Tracking Transparency will be part of software update

A lone passenger stands outside the International Arrivals area at Pearson Airport in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. As the federal government prepares to slap new restrictions on foreign arrivals, Health Canada data suggest a growing number of infections directly connected to international travel. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Holiday season vacations coincide with rise in COVID-19 travel-related cases

486 COVID-19 cases diagnosed in recent travellers in December

Grant Hunter, associate minister of red tape reduction, is proud of the work his ministry has done over the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo contributed)
Alberta gets A for red tape reduction

The Alberta government is getting a thumbs up for its work on… Continue reading

People protest against new anti-abortion laws, near the ruling Law and Justice party headquarters in Warsaw, Poland Wednesday Jan. 27, 2021, to protest after the country’s top court on Wednesday confirmed its highly divisive ruling that will further tighten the predominantly Catholic nation’s strict anti-abortion law. The Constitutional Tribunal published the justification of its decision, which will take immediate effect.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Poland: Near-total abortion ban takes effect amid protests

People poured onto the streets of Warsaw and other cities late Wednesday

Canada’s Rachael Karker competes during the women’s World Cup freestyle ski halfpipe event in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. The X Games are Karker’s first and perhaps only chance to compete this season. The Canadian freestyle skier’s breakout performances in Aspen, Colo., the last two years launched her into the world’s elite in halfpipe. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
X Games an island in a competition desert for Canada’s top boarders, freestyle skiers

Rachael Karker will drop into the Buttermilk Mountain halfpipe Friday

Canada’s Haley Smith makes a jump during the women’s cross-country race at the Nerrang mountain bike trails during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia, Thursday, April 12, 2018. When COVID-19 swept across the country last spring, forcing lockdowns and cancelling sporting events, Canadian mountain biker Haley Smith’s response was swift — train harder. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Rycroft
Canadian mountain biker Haley Smith climbing back from ‘rock bottom’

For years Smith has spoken about living with anxiety and her eating disorder

A carved stone pillar is shown in this July 2020 handout photo. The Royal B.C. Museum says it has confirmed a carved stone pillar found at low tide on a beach in Victoria last summer is an Indigenous artifact. The museum says in a news release it will work with the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations to determine the most suitable home for the pillar carved with the features of a face. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Royal BC Museum, Grant Keddie
Carved stone pillar found on B.C. beach identified as Indigenous artifact

Museum working with Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations

Fashion mogul Peter Nygard is shown during a bail hearing in Winnipeg on Jan. 19, 2021, in this courtroom sketch. Lawyers for Nygard are back in court today arguing for his release as the Canadian fashion mogul faces charges of sex trafficking and racketeering in the United States. Nygard, who is 79, was arrested last month in Winnipeg under the Extradition Act and faces nine counts in the southern District of New York. His lawyers are expected to present a new bail plan after the judge presiding over the bail hearing criticized the previous one. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tadens Mpwene
Bail hearing continues for fashion king Peter Nygard on U.S. sex charges

Nygard has the means to flee, say federal lawyers

FILE - Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford has his final meeting of the season with the media at the NHL hockey team's practice facility in Cranberry, Pa., in this Wednesday, May 9, 2018, file photo. Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, a Hall of Famer who helped lead to a pair of Stanley Cup titles, resigned abruptly on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who oversaw Cup wins, resigns

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who oversaw Cup wins, resigns

Outfielder George Springer is shown in a screengrab from a virtual news conference he took part in on Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021. Springer says he's excited to be a part of a young, talented team like the Toronto Blue Jays, a club he believes has plenty of potential. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Blue Jays introduce outfielder George Springer after signing him to six-year deal

Blue Jays introduce outfielder George Springer after signing him to six-year deal

Bucs fans set to cheer inside, outside Super Bowl stadium

Bucs fans set to cheer inside, outside Super Bowl stadium

Most Read