In his public address today, Doug Ford talked over some NHL-related items as brought up by Rick Westhead of Toronto’s The Sports Network (TSN).

Here is the interview as I transcribed it.


Rick Westhead of TSN: The NHL has talked about its candidate cities to be a hub city, and Toronto is one of them, although it wants an exemption to the 14-day quarantine period that all arriving travelers face in coming back to Canada. Do you support giving the NHL an exemption to that 14-day quarantine, and how concerned would you be about the optics of doing that?

Premier Doug Ford: Well I’ve talked to the NHL, like the other Premiers have, and the Federal government, they are currently working with the Federal government, that would fall under their jurisdiction, I’ve talked to the Deputy Prime Minister about that as well, and they’re trying to sort things out. But we have to get the right definition, to the best of all of our abilities, to sit down with them, and would they consider self-isolation, staying in the hotel room, all hopping on the bus, going straight to the game, and going back to the hotel room, that’s going to be the Federal government that has that authority to decide if they’re going to be coming in and staying two weeks or not. The NHL, the information that I’ve received from the NHL, that this is starting August 1st, so that’s almost two months away. And let’s just hope the situation has changed by then, and we see numbers going down. I just can’t tell you what the numbers are going to be two months down the road. But, the conversations have started. 

Rick Westhead of TSN: You mentioned earlier, I asked you about this in Toronto, you mentioned that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) the parent company of the Maple Leafs and Raptors, would be paying for and buying its own tests, obtaining its own tests.

Premier Doug Ford: Yes.

Rick Westhead of TSN: Since then, the NHL has said that it will take between twenty-five- and thirty-thousand tests to carry off this playoff this summer. 

Premier Doug Ford: Yep.

Rick Westhead of TSN: So, beyond buying the tests, of course you have to have those tests processed.

Premier Doug Ford: Yep.

Rick Westhead of TSN: So how concerned are you that, if they’re using the same labs that regular Ontarians are using, long term care facilities etc., that it could overly tax the testing procedures?

Premier Doug Ford: Well, I had the conversation with MLSE along with Mr. Bettman as well, and from what I can understand they’re going to be testing their players every single day. And again, I’m no medical expert, but that’s pretty good testing. So every day they get tested, and they’re going to be paying for it. On top of that, they’re using a private lab, not a lab, that from what I understand, that we would be using. So it’s not going to interfere, and that’s their number one concern, on the phone they said ‘we do not want to take testing away from the general public.’ That’s not their goal, they want to make sure that their players, and the people that come with them, that they’re in a safe environment. They want to protect any city that they might end up in. So we’re two months down the road, they’re going to pay for the testing, they’re going to use a private lab, they don’t want to interfere with any public testing whatsoever. So, those are the items that I know, and that’s been communicated with me.

Final Thoughts

It’s not super likely that the NHL playoffs will end up in Toronto. Such a congested and travel-busy city seems like an ill-advised choice for the destination for this year’s COVID-19-influenced playoffs. It’s encouraging, though, to see the city trying to put itself out there. The economic impacts for the tourism industry in Toronto, while small, will not be unnoticed by those businesses that have been hit by COVID-19 hardest. Hotels, restaurants, and other tourism industry spots in the area would see quite a boost with the hundreds of NHL players and their families and other team staff all in town.

Ultimately, this decision won’t be made for a little while longer. As Doug Ford noted, we’re still two months away from this even potentially starting. There’s much to be decided and analyzed before the final choice will be made. We’ll keep our ears to the ground and let you know of any developments as they may unfold.