Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has opened the door for the NHL to operate one of its playoff hub cities in Canada.
In his daily briefing Tuesday, Trudeau said the Canadian federal government is “open” to the NHL appointing a site in Canada for Phase 4 of the league’s “Return to Play” plan — so long as it’s allowed by local health authorities.
“We have indicated that we are comfortable with moving forward on an NHL hub in one of the three Canadian cities that are asking for it,” Trudeau said. “Obviously the decision has to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction, but Canada is open to it as long as it is OK’d by the local health authorities.”
The NHL has narrowed down its potential sites to 10 cities — including Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. But Canada has imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine to anybody traveling in from outside the country to combat the coronavirus pandemic, a quarantine the league has previously said it would not subject its players to.
Trudeau’s notion to work with the NHL came after he announced Canada and the United States had agreed to extend the current border restrictions on nonessential travel through July 21.
The restriction, however, has not prevented NHL players from traveling back and forth as teams reopened their practice facilities for voluntary workouts.
Las Vegas has been rumored to be one of the two hub cities. Considering the league has previously indicated it would not allow a team to play at home, the Golden Knights and the rest of the Western Conference would have to be located in the second city.
That would put the Eastern Conference, including the Rangers and Islanders, in Vegas.
But if, say, Vancouver or Edmonton were chosen as the second hub city for the Western Conference, that would complicate the league’s hope to stay away from giving teams a home-ice advantage.
If Vegas is a hub city, the only Canadian city that’s being considered by the league that would make sense is Toronto.
The league is aiming to shift to Phase 3, the opening of official training camps, on July 10. It is unclear when Phase 4 would begin.