The Canadian government and the NHL didn’t let the weekend stop them from continuing work on a resolution to allow NHL teams to bypass current border restrictions. With the North Division finals potentially ending as early as Monday night, an agreement has been made to allow the victor to travel for road games to the United States and for American teams to cross into Canada. CBC News was the first to report that a federal travel exemption has been enacted for the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As one might have expected, the exception to Canada’ strict quarantine policies comes with its own set of public health safeguards. All team members crossing into Canada, Canadian and American teams alike, will be subject to pre- and post-arrival COVID testing. Team must use private air travel and will be restricted to a “bubble” while in Canada that includes the team hotel and arena. Players are asked to limit all interaction with the general public during this time and to follow all local health guidelines.
The way that the NHL’s postseason has shaken out in terms of regular season standings and playoff scheduling, the next round is already somewhat set. The North Division winner (Montreal is up 2-0 on Winnipeg) will travel to the West Division winner (Colorado is up 2-1 on Vegas) to open up the next round. As a result, these rules that the two sides have worked so hard to hammer out may only apply to just one trip. The West Division winner, should they win the series in four or five games, would only need to travel into Canada once. However, anything beyond that, including a North Division team advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, could mean several trips.
This resolution is a far superior result than the alternative for the Canadian teams, who otherwise would have had to play at adopted American location. Instead, they will be able to have home games with a limited home crowd in the next round. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly expressed his gratitude that an agreement on an exemption could be reached, keeping all teams on an even playing field and protecting the integrity of the postseason.