Oilers follow trend of busing across border, avoiding COVID testing

Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft talks about the team's travel day to Los Angeles, saying it was the 'smartest move' for them, and how the players were involved in the decision being made.

The Edmonton Oilers became the latest pro sports team to bus into the United States before flying to another destination south of the border because of COVID-19 testing rules.

But because of location, the Oilers’ journey was more complicated than others.

The Oilers flew to B.C. after their Game 2 win over the Los Angeles Kings and then took a bus ride of just over an hour to Bellingham International Airport in Washington state on Thursday. From there, the Oilers made the flight to L.A., site of Game 3 on Friday.

The Oilers, like others in similar situations, avoid mandatory COVID-19 testing by taking a domestic flight in the U.S. Any flights from outside the country require all passengers to be tested.

“For us we just thought it was the smartest move for our group,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We involved our players in the decision and it was a good travel day today. Everybody’s feeling good about being in the sunshine here down in California.”

“You want to make the best decision possible for your group and it was one we gave a lot of thought to,” Woodcroft added. “It was executed excellently today and we’re getting ready for Game No. 3 tomorrow.”

Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard, whose team split the first two games in Edmonton, said the travel arrangements were “a little different than normal. But we’re here now and we’re just focusing on tomorrow.”

Toronto teams and opponents in hockey, baseball and basketball have taken similar approaches.

The Toronto Sun‘s Rob Longley reported the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees bused to Buffalo — about two hours away — after a game in the Ontario capital on Wednesday.

Because of a delay at the border, the Blue Jays did not arrive in Cleveland, where they played Thursday, until close to 4 a.m. The team opted not to take batting practice before a 6-5 loss to the Guardians, deciding more rest was best.

The Yankees, meanwhile, headed home (some were in attendance at Thursday’s Rangers playoff game).

The Buffalo News published a story on the recent trend on Thursday, noting it’s been a boost for the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

“When a plane flies to Buffalo to pick up those teams, that’s additional revenue for us,” Lee Weitz, director of aviation for the airport, told the newspaper.

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