Ontario public health examining possibility of NHL restart as COVID-19 lockdown looms

TORONTO — Ontario’s minister of sport says the provincial government is examining how a Canadian division in the NHL might work.

Lisa MacLeod says that discussions about the league’s return-to-play plan are happening at Ontario’s public health table with the province’s chief medical officer of health, as well as officials from Toronto and Ottawa.

She says that she expects to join those conversations in the next few days, as will her federal counterpart Steven Guilbeault.

Several media outlets are reporting the NHL is planning to realign its divisions next season with a seven-team all-Canadian division with no cross-border travel.

Read more: Pfizer Canada head says governments, not NHL, top priority for coronavirus vaccines

The league has targeted mid-January as a potential start date.

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However, the Ontario Hospital Association today asked the Ontario government for a strict four-week lockdown in regions with high rates of COVID-19 positivity that would include Toronto and Ottawa, the two Ontario cities which have NHL teams.

Also, the mayors of Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., both said yesterday that they want a strict four-week lockdown to begin over the winter holidays to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the GTA.

Ontario reported a single-day record of 2,432 new cases of COVID-19 today, and 23 new deaths due to the virus.

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