EDMONTON — Alberta is upping the ante in its bid for Edmonton to co-host the NHL’s summer Stanley Cup tournament, pitching Rocky Mountain excursions for players’ families.
“It’s the obvious choice to bring the NHL to Edmonton,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney wrote on Twitter in a short introduction that accompanies a video he posted celebrating panoramic vistas of soaring mountains and pristine lakes.
“We look forward to welcoming the league and players here to Alberta to take in the beautiful province we have to offer.”
Edmonton is competing with Toronto and Vancouver along with American sites to be one of two hub cities to host NHL games in isolation to complete the season, which was put on hold March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league plans to reopen training camps July 10 but has yet to release a schedule for the 24 teams still in the running for the Cup.
The bid by the Oilers and Kenney has previously focused on the fact Alberta has flattened the curve on COVID cases, is a world leader in per-capita testing, and could keep players isolated because the downtown home arena Rogers Place is linked by pedway to hotels and other amenities.
Christine Myatt, Kenney’s spokeswoman, said they want to provide opportunities for families, too.
“It is our expectation that, after completing the required 14-day quarantine, that players’ families will want to explore all that Alberta has to offer — and that includes our beautiful mountain parks,” said Myatt in a statement.
“We want to showcase our province’s many attractions in our effort to attract the NHL playoffs to Edmonton.”
The mountain parks are about five hours’ drive from Edmonton.
Alberta is currently doing medical checks and follow-ups for all international travellers, and Tom McMillan, spokesman for Alberta Health, said the players’ families won’t be exempt.
“Any families of NHL players visiting Alberta would have to present a self-isolation plan and self-isolate for 14 days, just like any other traveller entering the province from outside of the country,” McMillan said in a statement.
“Families of NHL players could not travel within the province until this mandatory self-isolation was complete.”
The NHL players themselves, McMillan continued, would be acting as a cohort and isolating from the public for the duration of the tournament. He said that means they could not travel to Banff or other locations with their families.
Last week, the federal government approved a separate quarantine plan for NHL players possibly coming to Canada to play. The traditional 14-day quarantine was seen as a barrier to Toronto, Edmonton or Vancouver winning a bid to be a hub city.
The cohort quarantine would keep players separate from the general public, rather than require players to isolate individually for the two-week period.
The NHL is one of multiple North American professional sports leagues looking to return to play, but COVID continues to cause concerns.
The NHL said last week that it tested more than 200 players at club facilities during voluntary training since June 8, with 11 testing positive.
If the tournament goes ahead, the two hub cities would each host 12 teams in the tournament from each of the two conferences. Las Vegas is considered the favourite in the United States, unless two Canadian sites are picked.
The Stanley Cup final is expected to be in one of the two cities.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2020.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press