Ford confirms huddle with MLSE over resuming NHL season
Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed his government has been in discussions with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment over how to continue the hockey season Tuesday.
“They’re coming up with a game plan, as the NHL, as a whole,” he said. “They haven’t really divulged anything else as of yet, but we have had a conversation, so once I get more information, I’ll be able to pass it along to the people out there.”
Last week, the Associated Press reported Edmonton and Toronto were being considered possible pod cities that could host the remainder of the season this summer, without fans.
The AP reports the most ambitious timetable would have players back by May 15, followed by training camp and exhibition games in June, with a Stanley Cup final going into September.
When asked about Ford’s remarks, an MLSE spokesperson deferred any comment to the NHL.
At the city level, Toronto Mayor John Tory added preliminary, high-level discussion with the NHL as well, but echoed Ford’s remarks that nothing has been finalized.
“MLSE are very mindful of the fact there would have to be substantial public health considerations taken into account,” Tory said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said any athletes coming into Canada would have to abide by quarantine rules, which require 14 days of self-isolation.
Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said he has not yet been approached about safety measures regarding games resuming, but added the bigger challenge would be how fans would be protected if they’re eventually allowed to return in a staggered way.
“You have to look at those pragmatics,” he said. “We’re looking for ideas and suggestions, not just from our teams, but if there’s others in other parts of the U.S. in Canada.”
“I’m sure their fans would like some ideas and suggestions to come forward, even if it couldn’t guarantee a Stanley Cup,” he joked.
As for other sports, Tory mentioned he’s also been approached by Toronto Blue Jays executives about figuring out scenarios of playing games either in Canada or elsewhere.
The earliest news may come in basketball, where the decision to reopen the Raptors practice facility is between the city and provincial governments.
“Those things are moving forward quite nicely and I expect that there will be some news to report on that,” he said, while not adding a timetable.