The Calgary Flames announced Tuesday that they are making plans to hold their training camp in the United States, according to General Manager Brad Treliving. They may not be the only Canadian team to do so.
The issue for the Canadian teams is that the Canadian federal government’s 14-day quarantine orders for those entering the country. Currently, anyone entering Canada is subject to a mandated, two-week quarantine at their residence. Treliving stated that “I don’t want guys coming back to Calgary and sitting on their butts for two weeks in their condos and being out of shape when it’s time to go again.”
The NHL has been working with the Canadian government to ease or modify restrictions prior to an estimated training camp start of July 10. There is more at stake than just Canadian teams leaving the country to train. Unless the government changes the quarantine guidelines, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the idea of Edmonton, Vancouver, or Toronto selected as a hub city for the playoffs is off the table, erasing millions of dollars for the local economy.
Dr Hinshaw is allowing Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to resume practicing on their home arenas. pic.twitter.com/T954ZbNbS0
— JanetDirks (@janetdirks) June 8, 2020
The league announced the launch of Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan last week, allowing teams to open practice facilities for players to work out and skate in small groups following testing and several other steps, including watching an educational video. The Flames only have a few players in town, including captain Mark Giordano, and will allow small groups to start skating informally at the Saddledome as early as Wednesday or Thursday, once protocols have been completed.
Battle of Canadian Rivals
The other Canadian teams may follow suit if the restrictions are not lifted, and the teams have reportedly started to informally look at the possibility of training in the United States, including the Flames opponent, the Winnipeg Jets.
The NHL’s return to play format allowed this matchup to be one of the early storylines for the playoffs. When the NHL hit pause, Calgary (36-27-7) ranked third in Pacific Division four points back of the second-place Edmonton Oilers. The Jets (37-32-8) were fourth in the Central and held down the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
Of course, at the forefront of a great deal of the angst between the two teams will be the Flames Matthew Tkachuk, who is sure to create quite a stir in the series. Most of the time you could expect some accidental bumping of the goalie in the crease, inadvertently jostling a defender after the whistle, directing a barrage of irritating comments to the closest ear-hole, chomping non-stop on his already misshapen mouthguard. All with a smirk on his face.
All of this on top of the fact that he is one solid offensive player, as in scoring goals and providing assists.
St. Louis native Matthew Tkachuk with ANOTHER between the legs geno.
Kid is a stud. pic.twitter.com/5Wr2qdqs0C
— Blues Buzz (@bluesbuzzblog) February 11, 2020
These are also two teams who do not have a great deal of recent playoff history. The Flames, since their 1989 Stanley Cup championship, has advanced past the first round only twice. As for the Jets, since relocating from Atlanta, they have enjoyed some 2018 playoff goodness, but little else.
As part of the play-in tournament, one of them will experience a series win and get into the 16-team brackets.