the Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from sweeping the Stanley Cup Final, but if they win the series in Game 4 on Monday, player families and staff won’t be on the ice to celebrate.
The Canadian government has not granted additional exemptions for family members to cross the border and bypass the 14-day federal quarantine, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to ESPN on Saturday.
“Annoyed,” a Lightning player said in a text message to ESPN. “But at this point, I’m not surprised.”
The NHL and NHLPA have called on the government to allow families to come and had a dialogue as recently as this week. The NHLPA had warned players that the government was unlikely to approve the request, and on Saturday there was no resolution meaning it would not be possible for families to come for Game 4 There is still a chance if the streak is extended and Tampa Bay returns to Montreal for Game 6, although the NHL and NHLPA are also not optimistic about the resolution by then, sources said. .
Last month, the league negotiated with government and public health officials to allow NHL teams to cross the Canadian border for the final two playoff rounds without going through a full quarantine, as long as everyone agreed. for a modified bubble. Players and staff are tested for COVID-19 daily, and no one is allowed to interact with the general public. Since arriving in Montreal, the Lightning has only been able to travel between their hotel and the arena.
“Just like last year, we are isolated so we are kept away from everyone,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said on Saturday after his team took a 3-0 lead. against the Canadians. “In fact, it will be similar to last year if we are lucky enough to win just because of the storyline that has unfolded, what has been agreed upon.”
In addition to the team charters, the NHL has also been able to organize an additional charter for certain rights-holding media and league officials to travel to Canada. All of the people on this charter are also living under the amended requirements of the bubble.
When the Lightning won the Stanley Cup in Edmonton in September, there were only a handful of family members there. The only people allowed to enter the bubble ended up being Canadian family members living in Canada – frustrating the players, who felt the NHL and NHLPA had moved the goalposts on them. When players agreed to return-to-play protocols in 2020, they were told that “spouses, partners and children” could join the conference finals. However, at the time of the agreement in July, things were moving fast; the deal was made on a Friday evening and training camps began the following Monday. The NHL never ended up getting these allowances from the Canadian government.
“I think they just didn’t want to risk the bubble being smashed by some random person and risking it,” a veteran player told ESPN in September. “But it was like they promised that and then took it back.”
The NHL ended its 2020 bubble playoffs after 65 days and no cases of COVID-19. This year there was a high profile situation during the playoffs, as Canadiens interim coach Dominique Ducharme had to spend 14 days away from the squad after testing positive for COVID-19 at the following his team’s first trip to Las Vegas.