It appears that NHL games will be played in British Columbia this year.
Premier John Horgan said on social media Sunday that NHL games can be played in B.C. this year following discussions with Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini about the league’s safety plans.
“After speaking with [Francesco Aquilini] yesterday about the NHL’s return-to-play plan, I’m pleased to confirm the enhanced health measures being put in place for the upcoming season mean games can safely be played here in B.C.,” Horgan said in a tweet.
NHL announced plans to start a shortened 56-game season beginning on Jan. 13 after reaching an agreement with the player’s union in late December.
In response to COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border, the NHL realigned its divisions, created a brand new all-Canadian division called the North Division, and changed the format so that teams will only play teams within their division during the season.
However, before games can resume — at least in Canada — the league requires approval from health officials in the five Canadian provinces with NHL teams.
B.C. now joins Alberta as the only two provinces to officially approve NHL games.
In late December, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the province’s minister of health, said they had received the NHL’s plans for the upcoming season and would be reviewing them with other health officials over the coming days.
The Canucks first home game is scheduled for Jan. 20 against the Montreal Canadiens, but it remains unclear whether fans would be allowed to attend any games played in B.C.