Find out the latest on COVID-19's impact on the sports world and when sports are returning by subscribing to Breaking News push notifications in the Sports and COVID-19 section.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says the league remains keen on having a Canadian city serve as a hub if and when the return-to-play plan is initiated, but he admits that might not be possible.
"We would certainly like to have a (hub) city in Canada," Daly told TSN's James Duthie on Tuesday night. "As with everything we try to do and with our events, we try to move them around (and) try to make sure our Canadian clubs are well-represented, and this would be another example of that."
Daly acknowledged that the Canadian government's 14-day self-isolation order for all individuals entering the country is a hurdle the NHL is still trying to navigate.
The deputy commissioner stressed that the league has been in talks with Canadian officials, and while the NHL wants to "be consistent" with the rule, a failure to find a solution would all but rule out the possibility of hosting games north of the border.
"If we're not able to resolve that issue or solve that issue, I think it effectively eliminates our ability to come to a Canadian city as one of our hub cities," Daly said.
While unveiling the NHL's return-to-play plan Tuesday afternoon, commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed the 24-team playoff will take place in two hub cities - one per conference - and that Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among the 10 cities being considered.
"Our primary goal is to find the two best cities, and by 'best,' the first and foremost factor we're looking at is the health situation," Daly said Tuesday night. "And as the COVID situation continues to evolve, are we going to a healthy city that would be consistent with what we want to present to our players and our staff members?"
British Columbia has handled the COVID-19 pandemic relatively well, as its premier, John Horgan, noted after speaking with Bettman earlier in May. However, Horgan said at the time that the 14-day self-isolation rule would be among several issues that would have to be addressed, and the provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, stated Tuesday that no exceptions would be made.
"I would love to have hockey but … we're not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk," Dr. Henry said, according to CBC News.
Meanwhile, the situation is worse in Ontario, with the province recording its first day of fewer than 400 new cases in nearly a week Sunday, according to The Toronto Star. A widely criticized mass gathering took place at the city's Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday.