Prime minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday morning that the United States and Canada have agreed to extend the two countries’ border closure for another 30 days. The ban forbids non-essential travel between the two countries until Sunday, June 21, 2020, though it remains open for commercial traffic and essential workers.
The news comes as the NHL’s Return-To-Play Committee continues to meet and explore different scenarios to re-start the suspended 2019-20 season. It’s unknown if the extension of the border would prevent NHL players from returning.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 19, 2020
“I remain hopeful that today’s announcement will not materially impact our return-to-play planning,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says he's hopeful today's Canada-U.S. border announcement "will not materially affect the resumption of play timelines we are currently contemplating."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 19, 2020
During a recent sports business conference, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is looking at “probably eight or nine different places” that can handle “a dozen or so teams in one location.” Via CBC, Las Vegas is one of the frontrunners while ESPN reports Minnesota, Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver have submitted proposals and Columbus is another possibility, according to Sportsnet.
“We’d like to complete this season,” Commissioner Bettman said. “We’d like to award the Stanley Cup, the most treasured trophy and the most historic trophy in all of sports. And our fans are telling us overwhelmingly that’s what they’d like us to do, because people have an emotional investment in this season already.”
If NHL players are not given a waiver or deemed “essential”, this would likely push any potential re-start into July as the NHL appears to want players to have three weeks to train in camps across the two countries. The league is willing to push the start of the 2020-21 season into December to award the Stanley Cup this year.
Last week, Flames GM Brad Treliving said that the Return-To-Play Committee had “momentum” and a preliminary plan to return and a date for the NHL Draft could be agreed upon and announced in the coming days.
“Everything is going to be subject to whether we can execute the plan,” Treliving said. “We can say we’re going camping next weekend, but if it rains we probably won’t. But I do suspect we’re going to hear some news next week on two big issues right now relative to a plan of what a potential restart would look like, and the draft.”
The Return-To-Play Committee reportedly had focused on a 24-team playoff in two to four different neutral sites.
But according to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the two sides are still discussing different concepts to ensure competitive balance
I've heard the NHL/NHLPA talks on a season restart continue to be in a trading concepts phase that's "holding up the process." Competitive balance in the playoff tournament remains a key issue. As of last weekend, they hadn't really settled on a framework.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) May 19, 2020
While any plan to return remains murky, what is known is that the NHLPA voted on Tuesday to once again delay a decision on if players will be paid their final paychecks. Players are waiting to decide if they will need to forgo any of their final payment ($120 million) to help with escrow.
The NHLPA's Executive Board (31 players reps) has voted to further defer a decision on the April 15 paycheque until the end of the month. It will be re-visited again then, some of it will depend on return to play scenarios.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 19, 2020
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