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The National Hockey League is negotiating with the Canadian government to employ a travel exemption that would allow Canada’s three remaining teams to travel to the U.S. – and for U.S.-based teams to travel to Canada – for the final two rounds of the playoffs.
The conference championship round is next, followed by the Stanley Cup finals.
The NHL made amends for the travel restriction during the regular season by placing all seven of Canada’s teams in the same division and making a schedule in which they only played each other.
But two federal government sources told The Canadian Press the exemption would let teams still vying for the Stanley Cup enter Canada for games without having to isolate for 14 days, as is currently required for all non-essential travelers entering the country.
The sources, who were granted anonymity by The Canadian Press because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly, said the NHL has been working to secure approval from public health authorities in the provinces and cities that still have teams in the playoffs.
Winnipeg has already advanced to the second round and will play the winner of the Montreal-Toronto series. But after the second round, only one Canadian team will remain and will have to play a U.S. team going forward.
Canada’s federal Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, will have final approval.
A National Hockey League spokesman said the league is still awaiting answers from the government. In an email to The Canadian Press, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “It’s a work in progress.”