As I said months ago, this off season will be very similar to last off season. While camps, showcases and full hockey competition will take place in The United States and Europe, the same can not be said about Canada.
Many Canadian teams and American players have been waiting for the border between the United States and Canada to open for non-essential travel. That non-essential travel meaning for hockey camps, and junior hockey seasons.
While Politicians in the United States make headlines calling for re-opening, all the clamoring is simply to get headlines for what all Politicians and medical experts know will not be happening. The border between Canada and the United States will not be opening any time soon.
As the United States begins to emerge from pandemic restrictions, Canada is tightening restrictions in nearly every Province. In person dining is no longer an option as it was just a week ago in a few Provinces, and while vaccinations are taking place, infection numbers are rising.
In Canada, they have been hopping for an October 1, 2021 opening, however their experts are now saying that a January 1, 2022 re-opening is more likely. That re-opening will not be anything close to what we experienced in the past.
When re-opening does happen, it will definitely have COVID passports, and medical testing provisions included. Until those protocols and controls are in place, it simply will not happen.
The Province of Ontario, and the Federal Government of Canada are calling for a tightening of border crossing restrictions. Canadian citizens now returning to their home country by air must now quarantine in hotels, and new quarantine restrictions for those returning at land borders are now being put in place.
Like Europe, Canada will require proof of vaccination before you will be allowed to cross the border. Europe, unlike Canada is in advanced stages of planning and implementation of this requirement. Recently returning to Europe from the United States, I personally had my negative COVID test, and vaccination proof checked before leaving the United States, upon arrival in Europe, and once again upon arrival at my final European destination.
Until a system, one using bar codes on test results and a database of vaccination batches is ready for cross border access, any thoughts of playing hockey in Canada from the United States should be forgotten.
Further proof that teams and leagues are preparing for this? American teams playing in Canadian based leagues are already speaking to United States based leagues about membership for the 2021-2022 season whether it be temporary or permanent.
While many in the United States are seeing a return to some semblance of normalcy, and competition is largely taking place without restrictions, the same can not be said about Canada.
The world has changed. Travel is changing with it, and hockey will change with travel conditions. It’s time to accept this fact of life now and prepare for next season with a real plan.
Joseph Kolodziej – Adviser