Canada grants NHL exemption for cross-border travel during playoffs

Canada grants NHL exemption for cross-border travel during playoffs
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The Canadian government and the National Hockey League (NHL) have reached an agreement on allowing teams to travel to the country during the league’s postseason. 

The NHL issued a statement on Sunday saying that the league will be able to play in Canada for the semifinals and conference rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. U.S. teams traveling to the country for games will be under enhanced COVID-19 protocol.  

The NHL had to realigned their divisions this season due to pandemic travel restrictions. 

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"The National Hockey League is very appreciative of the decision by the Canadian government and the Federal health officials to allow the Canadian team that advances to the Stanley Cup Semifinals and, potentially, the Final, to host games in their own rinks," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in the statement.  

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government has barred most travel to the country in an effort to protect public health, which also affected the ability of professional sports teams to enter the country for games. 

Canadian pro soccer and baseball sports teams had to play their home games in the U.S. to avoid cross-travel border, according to an ESPN report on Sunday.

The NBA’s Toronto Raptors also played their home regular season games in Tampa Bay due to the restrictions, according to NBC-affiliate WFLA report. 

The NHL is the only league to play in Canada during the pandemic, playing their postseason games using bubble setups in Edmonton and Toronto.