The exemption would allow teams to enter Canada for games without having to self-isolate for 14 days, as is currently required for non-essential travelers due to the pandemic, CP reported on Sunday, citing two government officials. federal officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The NHL is working to get approval from public health authorities in provinces and cities that still have playoff teams – Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, the sources told CP. Final approval rests with Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
In an email to CP, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the effort was “a work in progress.”
The winner of Monday night’s Game 7 between Montreal and Toronto will face the Jets in the North Division final. The winner of this series will face one of the three winners of the American division in the semi-finals of the league. The two semi-final winners will compete for the Stanley Cup.
Cross-border travel in the NHL has been virtually non-existent since the pandemic hit North America last spring. Last summer, the NHL concluded its season with playoff hubs in Toronto and Edmonton, but all American teams have only crossed the border once to open the game.
For this season, the league put all seven Canadian teams in one division, and they competed exclusively to avoid cross-border travel. The NHL has said it plans to move the division winner to the United States for the final two rounds, unless the Canadian government gives in.
Other Canadian professional sports teams have had to relocate to the United States to avoid cross-border travel. The Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball started their season playing home games in Dunedin, Fla., And will call Buffalo, New York, home starting Tuesday.
Major League Soccer Toronto FC, CF Montreal and the Vancouver Whitecaps have moved to Florida or Utah.
Montreal became the first Canadian team to welcome a crowd on Saturday when 2,500 fans watched the home team beat the Maple Leafs in overtime. This crowd was significantly smaller than those allowed at most US venues for all sports, including the NHL.
Game 7 of this series will take place in Toronto on Monday, so fans will no longer be doing that. If the Canadiens were to upset the Maple Leafs, they could welcome the fans again for the second round.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.