Report: Canadian health officials seek more testing protocols, ask NHL to delay season

The North division (aka: Canadian division) was dealt a setback late yesterday. In a joint letter from Provincial Health Officials led by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, they are asking for more testing to be done and more often.

Not only do they want players and staff to test regularly, but are asking households to do so as well if players are living at home. Or the NHL can institute a bubble model to restrict travel. Should they not be able to meet these ‘requests’ then they should delay the start of the season.

NHL canadian division
Leafs to battle Canadiens in an all NHL Canadian Division (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Canadian Health Officials ask to delay the season

“Should any iteration of the bubble model not be achievable for the NHL, we would recommend that the start of the season be delayed for a few weeks to allow for disease rates to drop and our health systems to recover,” Dr. Hinshaw wrote in the letter obtained by TSN.

At this point it feels like Canadian health officials are basically telling the NHL what to do or shut down. The letter does have language that states they are committed to work with the NHL to resume play, “with the appropriate risk mitigations in place.”

My question is simple, what if the NHL says the protocols they have in place are sufficient? Will Canada send in authorities to arrest players? It may seem extreme, but Canada’s has enforced their lockdown restrictions strongly.

Per Frank Seravalli, the NHL will respond today to the letter.

COVID-19 cases on the rise in Canada

For all the lockdowns, travel restrictions, and mitigation that health officials are trying, cases in Canada continue to rise. Data shows a steady climb in COVID-19 cases since late August and Early September.

So how will the NHL respond? Will it delay the start of the season? And if so, why? Cases are on the rise in Canada and not a single NHL team has played. There will be no fans in the stands so there will be no increase in cases due to gatherings in hockey arenas.*

*Note: I am not a doctor. I am just looking at the data and the information at hand from a 30,000 foot view.

This is going to be a very interesting story to keep an eye on in the next few days. How will it play out? Will health officials allow the NHL to proceed as planned but demand a change once the first positive case comes in? All I know is the NHL better have that Edmonton bubble ready, whether the players like it to not.

RELATED: Canadian division in jeopardy

Updated 12/24/20 9:50 AM ET