VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Discussions regarding Vancouver becoming an NHL hub city have not broken down, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday.
Earlier reports indicated the Vancouver Canucks’ bid to be a hub city for the NHL’s return-to-play plan hit a snag over what would happen if a player within a team bubble tests positive for COVID-19, and that the league began focusing on other options.
“Well, there’s no breakdown,” Dix said.
“Vancouver, and anybody who’s paying any attention at all knows, that it is the best possible place for them to come because we enforce public health rules in British Columbia thoroughly and completely,” he added.
“This is the reason to come and, you know, I love the NHL. I love the idea of hockey coming here, but I’m also the minister of health, and the players, and the fans, and those working in the arenas, and everyone in British Columbia expects the rules to apply to everybody. And that’s our advantage in this, it’s not a disadvantage in this.”
.@adriandix: "If you're talking about the health of the players… health of society… about public health measures… this is the place to come and I hope they come. Public health counts number one in BC. That matters to the NHL and it should for everybody else." @NEWS1130
— Sonia Aslam (@SoniaSAslam) June 25, 2020
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said suggestions that strict health regulations are why the NHL wouldn’t choose Vancouver as a hub city are just speculation, and the advice in B.C. is the same as in the rest of Canada.
“I have been very supportive of the NHL approach and the plan that the Canucks put together,” she said. “So, I think it is speculation, but that is the reason why, if even Vancouver is off the table.”
If Vancouver is no longer in consideration, Henry said she would be disappointed, “because I am a big hockey fan. But I will be happy to watch wherever it is.”
Dix said the NHL will make its own decision.
“They’re very intelligent people and they’ll have their own considerations, and considerations that might make Las Vegas or somewhere else a better location than Vancouver,” he said.
“But, frankly, if you’re talking about the health of the players, if you’re talking about the health of society, if you’re talking about public health measures, if you’re talking about an outstanding leader on public health, if you’re talking about a committed and outstanding leader in Premier john Horgan, this is the place to come, and I hope they come. We’ve made our pitch. Our case, we make at three o’clock every day, which is that public health counts No. 1 in B.C., and that matters for the NHL, and it should matter for everybody else.”
Vancouver was short-listed for one of two NHL hub cities last month as commissioner Gary Bettman outlined a four-phase plan that will see games resume in the summer.
Vancouver is still on the six-location shortlist, along with Edmonton, and Toronto.
Canada’s federal government last week said it would allow the league to quarantine internally.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry previously approved a plan for Vancouver to be a possible NHL hub city, and on Wednesday reiterated the NHL proposal was specific and more than exceeded the requirements needed to ensure there is no contact with the public, with players in quarantine for the entire time they would be here.
The NHL is expected to announced hub cities by the end of the week.
As part of the third phase of the NHL’s plan, training camps are scheduled to begin July 10.
The NHL shut down in March due to COVID-19.