With British Columbia’s COVID-19 curve flattening, Premier John Horgan said Wednesday that he believes his province is “in a good place” to host the NHL — acting either as a hub city or allowing the league to play all of its games in the province.
Horgan said he spoke with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday about “our desire in British Columbia to support the NHL and the Vancouver Canucks” during the pandemic. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly and B.C. minister Lisa Beare, who is responsible for sport in the province, were also included on the conference call.
“I believe we’re in a good place to host, that’s why I contacted the commissioner,” Horgan said in a press conference. “The Canucks have been working very co-operatively with my minister; we’ve heard from others around the league that have other ideas about perhaps having all of the games played in British Columbia.”
Along with Rogers Place, the Horgan implied that multiple WHL facilities across the province could potentially serve as host sites for NHL games.
“We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George… Cranbrook has an outstanding facility as well. We have hotel space, so the sky’s really the limit.”
The NHL paused its season on March 12. On Tuesday, Bettman reportedly said that cancelling the remainder of the season and not handing out the Stanley Cup is “not something I’m even contemplating.”
“(We) would be happy to have hockey take place here so that we can see current games on our televisions,” Horgan said. “But there are obstacles, obviously, in the way.”
One of those obstacles is the mandatory 14-day isolation period that is currently required for anyone who enters the country. Looking ahead at the weeks to come, Horgan said those decisions fall to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, and how the province handles flattening the curve as B.C. begins to re-open.
With multiple return-to-play situations being discussed, Horgan is hopeful that a framework involving B.C. could be a possibility.
“I wanted to let the commissioner know that British Columbia stands ready to assist in looking at a plan brought forward by the players and the NHL, and if we can make it work I think it would be great for B.C. and it would be great for the NHL.”