June 16 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday he was comfortable having a hub city in Canada for teams competing in the National Hockey League’s planned restart amid the COVID-19 outbreak as long as local health authorities approve.
Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto are all being considered by the NHL to serve as one of the two 12-team hub cities for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which could begin in early August.
“We have indicated that we are comfortable with moving forward on an NHL hub in one of the three Canadian cities that are asking for it,” Trudeau said at a news conference.
“Obviously the decision needs to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction, but Canada is open to it as long as it is okayed by the local health authorities.”
Trudeau also said the border with the United States will remain closed to non-essential travel through at least July 21. The border closure, however, does not affect NHL players and some have already been travelling to their teams.
All NHL teams were cleared to reopen training facilities last week so long as those who chose to attend did so in small groups that did not exceed six players at a time.
The NHL, which halted action in March due to the novel coronavirus, said formal training camps for the 24 playoff-bound teams could open on July 10 if it was deemed safe to do so.
The length of training camps and, therefore, the start date for a formal resumption of play will be determined at a later date. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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