While sports in the United States have returned to a state that resembles their normal operations pre-pandemic, sports across the border in Canada remain heavily regulated as the Canadian government continues a more conservative approach in response to COVID-19. That's posed a problem for the National Hockey League, but a way has now been cleared for the Stanley Cup Playoffs to proceed without major issues.
According to a report by Emily Kaplan of ESPN, the NHL has reached an agreement with the Canadian government that will allow for teams to travel across the border between the United States and Canada beginning with the semifinals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. NHL teams traveling to Canada from the United States will now be able to play in the country, but will have to arrive via private plane, be subject to daily COVID-19 testing, and remain in a "modified quarantine bubble" where they have no contact with the general public.
"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," read a statement by the NHL.
The lockdown policies pursued by the Canadian government have created issues for Canadian sports teams that compete in the U.S., which include multiple NHL teams. Presently, the winner of the playoff series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Winnipeg Jets will play a U.S. based team in the semifinals once the NHL re-seeds the tournament.
Entering this season, the NHL had to re-arrange its divisions as well as its playoff format in order to prevent travel between the U.S. and Canada, somewhat alleviating the logistical issues experienced by Canadian teams in other sports. In MLB and MLS competition, Canadian-based teams have had to relocate to the United States in order to avoid cross-border travel.