Oilers fans pack the square during the Edmonton Oilers’ Orange Crush community rally in Sir Winston Churchill Square in Edmonton on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Hockey fans in Canadian cities with NHL teams have a reputation for expressing their exhuberance in the streets during the playoffs, and some admit the temptation to ignore physical-distancing guidlines may prove too great as the pandemic-postponed season resumes next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

Oilers fans pack the square during the Edmonton Oilers’ Orange Crush community rally in Sir Winston Churchill Square in Edmonton on Thursday, April 20, 2017. Hockey fans in Canadian cities with NHL teams have a reputation for expressing their exhuberance in the streets during the playoffs, and some admit the temptation to ignore physical-distancing guidlines may prove too great as the pandemic-postponed season resumes next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Codie McLachlan

As postponed NHL season resumes, some fans say the lure of parties will be strong

The players themselves aren’t to have any contact with the general public

As hockey fans gear up for a truncated season to begin next month, some in Canada’s two “hub cities” say the temptation to celebrate — and flout physical distancing guidelines — may prove too great.

“I can’t say no to a good time,” said Edmonton Oilers fan Jeet Jermana. “I’d be hard-pressed not to jump into a big party.”

On Friday, the NHL board of governors and NHL Players’ Association said they had ratified the return-to-play plan, paving the way for the league to resume its pandemic-hit season later this summer.

Toronto and Edmonton were also officially unveiled as hub cities where all games will be played, beginning Aug. 1. Training camps start Monday in the 24 cities with teams still in the running for the Stanley Cup, including six in Canada.

In 2017, when the Oilers nearly advanced to the Western Conference final, Jermana was among the thousands of fans who partied in Ford Hall at Rogers Place arena and in bars along the popular Whyte Avenue district.

But with COVID-19 this year, where teams will play in empty arenas, Jermana said he’ll likely watch more games at home, maybe with just a few friends.

That is, he said, until the Oilers advance and he and other fans won’t be able to resist going out.

“Once it becomes the ‘real playoffs’ I think more and more the momentum will grab,” he said.

Matt Black of Hotel X Toronto, located west of the city centre where multiple media outlets have reported that several teams will be based, said the prospect of any accommodation for celebratory fan gatherings, even outdoors, seems unlikely.

Nevertheless, Black said he expects citywide excitement will be palpable, even with empty arenas.

“You look back to those scenes of Jurassic Park and Maple Leaf Square and all of that … it would be great for people to be able to get together again but you just need to make sure that you’re doing it in a safe manner,” said Black.

The players themselves aren’t to have any contact with the general public.

READ MORE: NHL, players take collaborative approach in bid to resume

Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto’s associate medical health officer, said in an emailed statement that players and staff arriving from abroad will also have to serve a modified 14-day quarantine as well as undergo rigorous screening and daily testing protocols, wear masks in indoor settings, physically distance and wash hands often.

An Edmonton police spokesperson said the service wouldn’t be able to comment over the weekend on what sorts of preparations they might make for crowds when the season resumes.

Geoff Grimble with the City of Edmonton said the city’s civic events management team would likely discuss the issue during a scheduled meeting on Monday.

“The City of Edmonton’s first priority is public safety and we’ll continue to follow the advice and requirements of the Chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure fans, players, coaches and staff remain healthy,” Grimble said.

Oilers fan Brendan McLeod admitted he may be lured to a street celebration when — not if — his team advances, but said he still wants to maintain physical distancing.

“We have to get through this together or else it’s not going to change,” said McLeod.

But Shadi Merhej, who said he enjoys both hockey and the Oilers, noted the sport doesn’t have quite as strong attraction for him in the summer.

“It’s daylight ‘til 11 o’clock. You don’t want to spend half your day watching hockey,” Merhej explained.

“I’d rather go for a bike ride, or rollerblade or golf.”

—With files from Cassandra Szklarski in Toronto

Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The goal of the group is to help women owned businesses recover from the pandemic and to assist women to become angel investors and women owned or co-owned businesses to better access capital.
Okanagan women’s investor fund launched to aid women-owned businesses

Twenty-five women have formed a new Okanagan angel investment fund

An investigation is ongoing into a two-vehicle collision Sunday, March 7, shortly before 3:30 p.m. in Coldstream on Highway 97 at College Way that sent one driver to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Coldstream collision sends one to hospital

Two vehicles involved in collision Sunday, March 7, at Highway 97 and College Way

City of Armstrong council will discuss a proposed Consumer Price Index increase of 0.84% to their monthly stipends at its regular meeting Monday, March 8. (Morning Star - file photo)
Armstrong council to discuss small pay raise

Staff recommending 0.84% Consumer Price Index hike to monthly stipends

Head chef Travis Ashley dumps the first load of lobsters into the vats of boiling saltwater. (Jim Taylor - Contributed)
150 lobsters served in Lake Country drive-thru fundraiser

Rotary Club sees success in unique COVID-friendly lobster dinner event

Morning Star columnist Sam McNair puts the business spotlight on Expressions of Time in his latest article. (Sam McNair - Contributed)
Small Business Spotlight: Vernon bookstore specializes in more than literature

Expressions of Time is a beloved asset to the local business community

Five Kelowna writers are featured in an anthology that launched in time for International Women's Day. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
International Women’s Day: Book exploring fears features Kelowna writers

The book has launched in time for International Women’s Day

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complains about that condo

It's tick season in South Okanagan.
Tick season has started in South Okanagan

A Penticton adventure company collected 200 ticks last year to be studied for Lyme Disease

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. A joint federal and B.C. government housing program announced today aims to help people living in up to 25,000 vulnerable households pay their rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal, B.C. governments announce $517-million rent aid program to help vulnerable

Benefits for those not eligible for B.C.’s Rental Assistance Program or Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(BC SPCA)
Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Phase four of the Kicking Horse Canyon project would twin the winding stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Golden. ~ Photo by B.C. Ministry of Transportation
Additional closures announced to Trans-Canada east of Golden

Additional closures will be needed in May as a part of Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project

Dawn Low first moved “upstairs” to the administrative department of the City of Revelstoke in 2009. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
120 years later, first female CAO appointed in Revelstoke

International Women’s Day was first celebrated on March 19, 1911, in Austria,… Continue reading

Most Read