Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) trails Montreal Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber (6) during first period NHL exhibition hockey action ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Toronto on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) trails Montreal Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber (6) during first period NHL exhibition hockey action ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Toronto on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Feds give green light to NHL training camp; provinces must make call on games

Statement adds all teams must operate within provincial rules for regular-season play.

The federal government says it has issued an exemption to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for NHL players and team staff to return to Canada for training camp under “national interest grounds.”

However, the five provinces with NHL franchises must give their approval for games between Canadian teams to be played during the regular season, which is scheduled to start Jan. 13.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says in a statement that the league’s plan for the pre-season offers “robust measures to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.” It says all provinces with NHL clubs have provided written support for the plan.

The statement adds all teams must operate within provincial rules for regular-season play.

The five provinces with teams have not commented on the NHL since deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on Dec. 24 that the league believes it can play games in all seven Canadian markets. The Canadian teams will only play each other during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs, and won’t crossing the border, which remains closed to non-essential travel.

The Ottawa Senators were one of seven clubs across the 31-team league to start training camp Thursday after not qualifying for the post-season as part of the restart to the pandemic-halted 2019-20 campaign. The other six Canadian teams are slated to open training camp Sunday or Monday.

The Canadian Press

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