The league and the players are working their way towards an agreement that would see all 31 teams open their training camps in early January. The plan would be to play a 52 to 56 game regular season schedule beginning on Jan. 13, 2021.
Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin confirmed approval for the training camp, even though the province has extended level red restrictions through Jan. 8 as a result of the continuing high numbers of positive COVID-19 cases.
Roussin says the NHL has a proven track record when it comes to being able to train and practice safely. “This is a lot based on the very robust plan that the NHL and its teams have put forward and has already proven to be safe,” said Roussin in response to being asked why the Jets were going to be granted what amounts to special exemption status.
“Much of the quarantine that we had in place last year is still in place. The self-isolation allows back-and-forth to the training facility, back to the residence, with private conveyance. It really poses no risks to Manitobans, and there are a lot of protocols in place to have this very safe for the team.”
One journalist asked Premier Brian Pallister a question his own eight-year-old had asked him: “Why can the Jets skate when my team can’t?” Pallister stickhandled a bit before passing that one off to his chief medical officer like a hot potato, and Roussin actually handled it pretty well.
“The issue there is on the safety. We’re dealing with a league that has purchased its own testing, has very strict requirements for routine testing. They have very strict requirements for self-isolation and quarantine. Certainly, it’s not the same protocols that could be in place for an eight-year-old team.”
Roussin says there is a positive aspect to the Jets getting prepared for what will be their 10th season in Winnipeg since relocating from Atlanta. “We see some benefit to having something for people to be looking forward to during these difficult times.”