Doug Ford: No decision on NHL games with Ontario primed for lockdown

TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says a decision has yet to be made on whether or not the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators will be permitted to play home games with the province set to go into lockdown amid soaring COVID-19 numbers.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced over the weekend the league is aiming to begin a condensed 56-game schedule Jan. 13.

The plan is for Canada’s seven teams to play in a newly-created North Division for the 2020-21 season because of border restrictions related to non-essential travel.

But health officials from the five provinces where those clubs play — Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba — have yet to sign off on any plan.

The lockdown announced Monday by Ontario will go into effect Saturday and last until Jan. 23 in the province’s south, while the north will see restrictions lifted Jan. 9.

The NHL wants to play games in the home arenas of participating teams, but is prepared to hold them in one or more “neutral-site” venues if necessary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2020.