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Flames, Leafs, Oilers Skirt COVID Travel Rules to Avoid Testing

Photo courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers

Flames, Leafs, Oilers Skirt COVID Travel Rules to Avoid Testing

The Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers have each hosted the opening two games of their first round Stanley Cup Playoff series. With home ice advantage, Scotiabank Saddledome, Scotiabank Arena and Rogers Place are all in line to be the home of games 1, 2, 5 and 7, should any of the three series’ (Calgary/Dallas, Toronto/Tampa Bay, Edmonton/Los Angeles) go the distance.

With fans back in arenas at full capacity and teams travelling across the borders this season, the NHL and its teams have been forced to comply with federally implemented travel rules pertaining to COVID, travel and mandatory testing.

Due to requirements that have seen Canadian clubs undergo mandatory tests at the border prior to travelling to the United States all season long, all three of the Canadian teams remaining in the hunt for Lord Stanley’s mug have needed to get creative in order to not have a/multiple positive test result(s).

At this point, risking COVID in order to have a full roster of players is the direction that the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs have chosen to go. With rules pertaining to cross-border air travel in question, both the Oilers and Leafs have found a way to get over the Canadian/American border without needing proof of COVID status.

If travelling by land the American government has eliminated the need for visitors to provide a negative COVID test 24 hour prior to arrival, so all three clubs have found ways to get into the States on the ground.

Both the Leafs and Flames have chosen to bus over the border before picking up flights, while the Oilers have taken an even more complex route.

Toronto has bused from its home city to nearby Buffalo, NY, before departing Buffalo Niagara International Airport for Tampa Bay, while Calgary has left for Bozeman, MT. before picking up a flight to Texas.

“That’s above my pay grade,” Leafs’ forward Jason Spezza said when asked about Toronto’s interesting travel plans. “I get on the bus when they tell me to get on the bus. I get on the plane when they tell me to get on the plane. As long as it all leads to the arena I’m pretty happy.”

Edmonton, on the other hand – which is a good six hours from the Sweet Grass American Border Port entrance – has chosen to fly to Vancouver, which it did on Thursday, before busing south over the border to nearby Washington on Friday. The Oilers have since boarded a chartered flight to Lost Angeles, in order to make it to Crypto.com Arena in time for Friday’s showing against the Kings.

In order to avoid the possibility of a player or two testing positive and being forced from action, the three Canadian clubs will continue this arrangement as long as they stay alive in the postseason race. For now, it’s on to Game 3, for each club. Luckily, they will not need to worry about this scenario again until a potential Game 6 rolls around.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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