The NHL is reportedly working with health authorities on a travel plan that would allow the winner of the all-Canadian division and an American opponent to cross the border during the final two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, according to The Canadian Press (h/t CBC).
The proposed plan would allow teams to enter Canada without having to isolate for 14 days. In an email to The Canadian Press, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said that the effort was “a work in progress.”
The NHL only needs approval from public health authorities in the provinces and cities that still have teams in the playoffs. The Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are the only three Canadian teams left in the postseason.
The winner of Monday’s Game 7 between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens will play the Jets in the North Division final. The winner of that series will face one of three American division winners.
Cross-border travel in the NHL has been nonexistent since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The league finished its 2019-20 season in Canada, but all American teams were forced to isolate before beginning play in a bubble.
The NHL was forced to create an all-Canadian division this season to avoid cross-border travel. The league is considering having the North Division winner relocate to the United States for the final two rounds of the playoffs unless the Canadian government allows cross-border travel.
Other Canadian professional sports teams have had to relocate to the United States to avoid cross-border travel this season. The Toronto Raptors played their season in Tampa and the Toronto Blue Jays began their season in Dunedin, Fla., and will now call Buffalo, N.Y., home starting Tuesday.