Dr Howard Njoo says allowing fans to participate in games is not “seriously considered” at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every American game so far in the playoffs has had fans, with a maximum of 12,000 for a home game for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
“The Prime Minister referred to the single-dose summer and what we might be able to do when hopefully 75% or more of the population has received a full vaccination, two doses, at the fall and what it might mean. in terms of rallies… I would say if you look at this moment and what the schedule is for the NHL playoffs, which are happening now and during the summer months, it’s not really something that is seriously considered in terms of fans in the stands, just depending on where we are at with our vaccination campaign at this point, ”Njoo said.
The NHL has seen Canadian teams play exclusively in the country this year with no fans at any game. The Edmonton Oilers open the North Division playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday, while the Toronto Maple Leafs start their best series of seven against the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
The winners meet in the second round before the Canadian survivor faces one of the three remaining American teams in the third round.
Njoo says discussions are underway as to whether there can be cross-border travel in the third round and / or the Stanley Cup Final.
“The live issue, of course, right now is what happens when we get to the last four,” Njoo said.
Njoo said the federal government has had discussions with the provinces to determine what might be possible.
The problem for the NHL is the 14-day quarantine for those coming from outside of Canada, which would be impossible in a best-of-seven series when a team hosts Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. and the other hosts Games 3, 4 and 6.
If the league and country cannot come to an agreement on a modified quarantine, the winner of the Northern Division could move to the United States after the second round.
Many Canadian professional teams in other sports that regularly travel across borders played home games in the United States during the pandemic.
Jets coach Paul Maurice said on Monday fans were very visible during the US playoff games.
“I really believe that the only possible advantage in all of this is the people and the players just have a great appreciation for how great the fans are and how great the experience for the players is, in particular,” said Maurice.
“I think it makes a very big difference.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 18, 2021.