Kenney appeals to Trudeau for quarantine exemption amid NHL hub city push
EDMONTON -- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has appealed to Ottawa to exempt returning National Hockey League players from federal quarantine laws as part of Edmonton's push to be named an NHL hub city.
Kenney made the request in a letter dated May 26 addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
"Such an exemption from the Canadian government would be necessary to enable the Oilers Entertainment Group bid to play host to the NHL playoffs," it reads.
"The Government of Alberta believes there are effective strategies in place to mitigate any risk for our province if such an exemption was granted."
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The appeal is in response to comments from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly who said Tuesday that Canada's mandatory 14-quarantine for anyone entering the country would make Canadian markets a non-starter.
“If we're not able to really get an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players' ability to travel in and not have to do a strict self-quarantine in a hotel room ... we won't be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub,” Daly said.
“So we're faced with having to find a solution to that. And hopefully we can."
Oilers general manager Ken Holland isn't directly involved with the bid but says he he's hopeful Edmonton is selected.
"I know that Edmonton checks off, in my opinion, all the boxes," he said Wednesday. "Certainly it would be incredible for our franchise, for our province, for our city to be the host of a hub."
RETURN TO PLAY
The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan Tuesday that would feature 24 teams competing in a modified Stanley Cup playoffs hosted by two hub cities if the league is able to resume.
The league announced that Edmonton is in the running to be one of those hubs, along with Vancouver and Toronto as well as Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
“We are having various discussions with various different departments in the Canadian government,” Daly added. “We don't have a resolution there, but it's an ongoing dialogue.”
The province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, also wrote to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman attesting to the province's health situation.
She noted Alberta Health Services has worked with OEG on guidelines allowing Edmonton to serve as a hub city, including private pay testing outside of the public health system.
"I am confident our province will be able to support the NHL in fulfilling the testing requirement outlined in the guidelines," her letter reads.
At her daily COVID-19 briefing on Wednseday, she also clarified that quaratined teams would not be allowed to interact with the general public.
"They would be effectively sealed off from the rest of the community."
While Alberta has the third-most cases in Canada adjusted for population, it is also first in per capita testing by a significant margin.
Edmonton has fared particularly well, with recoveries having surpassed the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the city since April 12.
The NHL said it will wait another three or four weeks before announcing its hub plans.
Training camps aren't expected to resume until July at the earliest.
Should the league return to play, the Oilers would face the Chicago Blackhawks in an opening round series.
With files from the Canadian Press