Provinces require more COVID-19 measures for Canadian NHL teams to play at home

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Canadian health authorities from the five provinces home to NHL teams sent a letter to the league Wednesday outlining additional requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are needed for the seven Canadian clubs to remain north of the border this season.

Though no agreement has been officially made as of Thursday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly believes the two sides are on the same page as to how they'll make it work.

"On the basis of our discussions in the past week, as well as our exchange of correspondence over the last 24 hours, we believe we are aligned and in agreement on the conditions on which each of our Canadian franchises can begin play in their own buildings for the start of the 2020-21 NHL season," Daly said, according to a statement from the league.

The league still needs approval from Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia to officially move forward with its North Division. Alberta Health chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw presented the NHL with two options.

The first called for a "regular testing schedule for players, staff, coaches and close contacts, with close household contact testing required if players are living at home between travel episodes," Hinshaw wrote, according to TSN's Frank Seravalli.

The league's current protocol calls for only team members to be tested daily during training camp and the first four weeks of the regular season. Family members are only tested upon request and will be at the players' expense.

Additionally, provincial health authorities may ask the NHL to adjust the schedule released Wednesday to limit provincial travel early in the season.

The second option calls for the league to reimplement a bubble model for the Canadian teams for at least the beginning of the season. Authorities said they would support a bubble for four-to-six weeks and then a modified bubble, but a full bubble model would be preferred.

If a bubble is not possible, the league may be forced to put the season on hold.

"Should any iteration of the bubble model not be achievable for the NHL, we would recommend that the start of the season be delayed for a few weeks to allow for disease rates to drop and our health systems to recover," Dr. Hinshaw wrote.

The NHL is expected to respond to Dr. Hinshaw's letter on Thursday. The shortened 56-game season is set to begin Jan. 13.

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Provinces require more COVID-19 measures for Canadian NHL teams to play at home
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