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Return to Play

Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver can be hub city in NHL Return to Play Plan

Canada won't hold players to 14-day quarantine for coronavirus @NHLdotcom

Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver each will be eligible to be a hub city as part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

"We have indicated that we are comfortable with moving forward on an NHL hub in one of three Canadian cities that are asking for it," Trudeau said. "Obviously, the decision needs to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction. Canada is open to it as long as it is OK by the local health authorities."

The NHL had said a city in Canada would not be chosen if players were required to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine currently in effect for people entering the country. Trudeau said the border with the United States will remain closed to nonessential travel through at least July 21. 

Canada Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday the NHL proposal of a cohort quarantine approach for players entering Canada had been approved, according to The Canadian Press. 

The cohort quarantine, which keeps players away from the the general public, would allow the NHL to bypass the 14-day quarantine.

Freeland said the cohort quarantine would involve regular screening, and that it would be crucial that the directives of medical officers are closely followed.

The NHL, which paused its season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, announced 10 locations are in the running to be one of two hub cities -- one for the 12 participating Eastern Conference teams and one for the 12 Western Conference teams.

Under the 24-team Return to Play Plan, the Stanley Cup Qualifiers will have the top four teams in each conference, based on regular-season points percentage, play a round-robin to determine seeding. The other eight teams in each conference will be paired in four best-of-5 series, with the winners playing the four round-robin teams in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"The National Hockey League appreciates the significant effort that the government of Canada put into reviewing this matter and satisfying itself that the League's protocol and processes for Return to Play were thorough, well thought out and, most importantly, focused on the health and safety of all concerned," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement to the Toronto Star. "The League will continue to work with the respective provincial governments and health authorities in the coming days as we consider our hub cities decision."

In addition to Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto, the NHL is considering seven United States locations: Chicago, Dallas, Columbus, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Pittsburgh.

Phase 3 of the Return to Play Plan, which is the start of training camp, can begin July 10 provided medical and safety conditions allow and the NHL and the NHL Players' Association reach an agreement on resuming play. The NHL has not announced when the qualifiers will begin.

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