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NHL games played in Toronto without fans would be 'good for the psychology of the city,' mayor says
Empty seats are seen inside Scotiabank Arena on March 12. (Craig Wadman)
TORONTO -- Mayor John Tory is continuing to pitch Toronto as a potential location for Stanley Cup playoff games, noting that it would “be good for the psychology of the city” even though “nobody would be able to buy a ticket.”
On Tuesday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the league will go straight into the playoffs if it is able to resume play with two cities hosting all of the games without fans.
Bettman said that the NHL has yet to make up its mind on which cities would be used to host games but he did confirm that Toronto was among 10 locations under consideration.
The other cities under consideration include Las Vegas, Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Vancouver and Pittsburgh.
“I would welcome it because I think if it was to be here, and that will be a decision the NHL will make it, it would be good for the psychology of the city,” Tory told CP24 on Wednesday morning. “You know regardless of the fact that it is a major television thing and that nobody would actually be able to buy a ticket and get a seat at the Scotiabank Arena if it happens here I still think there would be a sense of excitement that our team would be able to pay at home and that we would welcome a big portion of the NHL word to our city, which I views as one of the hockey capitals of the world if not the hockey capital of the world.”
Tory conceded that the NHL would have to work out a number of logistical challenges in order to host games in Toronto, not the least of which being a federal government rule that currently requires anyone arriving in the country from abroad to self-isolate for a period of 14-days.
If the city is chosen, he said that his administration will do “everything we can” to make sure play can be resumed in “a way that makes the city proud and respects public health.”
“We can’t let the hockey, as excited as we might be about it, get in the way of our very steady recovery from this terrible nightmare that we have been in,” he warned.
The NHL has said that it will use an expanded 24-team playoff format if it is able to resume play. That format would see the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Columbus Blue Jackets in a best-of-five qualifying round.
No NHL games have been played since the league halted its season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.