B.C. premier says NHL could host games in Vancouver, Victoria and beyond
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's progress in flattening its COVID-19 curve could make it an attractive host for future NHL games even outside of Vancouver, Premier John Horgan said Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters one day after his phone conversation with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Horgan said some in the league have even floated the idea of hosting every game in B.C. using Western Hockey League rinks.
"We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George," Horgan said. "We have hotel space, so the sky is really the limit."
But the premier also acknowledged there are "obstacles" that might get in the way of B.C.'s offer. He noted the current 14-day isolation rule for anyone arriving in the province would complicate efforts to turn Vancouver into a so-called "hub city" for the NHL, or to host games anywhere else in B.C.
The premier said things could change in the coming weeks, however, depending on how provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry believes B.C. is handling the pandemic.
Horgan said Bettman and his team "recognize that British Columbia has had a pretty positive response" in its efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. On Tuesday, health officials announced just seven new test-positive infections, the lowest increase since the government announced a provincial state of emergency back in March.
"Of course the NHL is concerned about players and the communities that they operate in," Horgan said. "I believe we're in a good place to host – that's why I contacted the commissioner."
Horgan and Bettman were joined on Tuesday's call by Lisa Beare, the minister responsible for sport, who has been in talks with the Vancouver Canucks about the possibility of hosting games locally.
Even if Vancouver were to become a hub city for the league, fans would not be allowed to watch games live in person at Rogers Arena.