Blackhawks

Blackhawks' playoff hopes on hold with US and Canada border agreement

Blackhawks' playoff hopes on hold with US and Canada border agreement

A major road block may have just surfaced for the Blackhawks and other NHL teams looking to restart the season after there was hope play would resume.

The NHL has been paused since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league was reportedly hoping to move into Phase 2 of its plan to return — which would be ending recommended self-quarantine for players, opening team facilities and working in small groups together —  within the next couple of weeks.



On Tuesday, CTV News reported that Canada and the United States came to an agreement on keeping the border closed to all non-essential travel for another month. 

The extension on the previous agreement upholds border restrictions until June 21. 

The idea of a 24-team format, which would include the Blackhawks (12th in Western Conference at time of pause) to resume the season was beginning to pick up steam before the border agreement extension. 

If the NHL and its players aren't able to declare themselves a "essential business", it's uncertain at this point how much time would be required to jump start the 24-team format or if it would still be in play if the season were to potentially resume in some capacity. 

It was previously reported by Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic that the NHL was considering not beginning the 2020-21 season until December or January.

"NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says he's hopeful today's Canada-U.S. border announcement 'will not materially affect the resumption of play timelines we are currently contemplating,'" Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported

Update: per The Globe and Mail, "The United States will exempt some foreign athletes who compete in professional sporting events in the United States from entry bans imposed because of the novel coronavirus epidemic, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said on Friday."

Additonally, a source trying to get back to the US from Canada called the US Customs and Border office and was told if they had a valid work visa and a letter from their employer stating their services were essential they could cross the border by land. The source believed the same would work for air. 

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Why the Stanley Cup was late to Blackhawks' 2015 Game 6 win over Lightning

Why the Stanley Cup was late to Blackhawks' 2015 Game 6 win over Lightning

Out of tradition and superstition, the Stanley Cup is never in the building until after puck drop during a Stanley Cup Final game in which it could be won, unless it's a Game 7 when both teams have a shot.

On June 15 in 2015, when the Blackhawks won their sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history, old Stanley was a little late to his own party at the United Center.

As the Keeper of the Cup Philip Pritchard tells host Pat Boyle on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, fans were already celebrating the Hawks Cup-clinching win over the Lightning outside the UC as the trophy was pulling in.

Broadcasters 'Doc' Emrick and Eddie Olczyk were filling time waiting for the Cup to arrive, which was still absent during the handshake line.

According to Pritchard, the Cup left the hotel around puck drop and it was the stormy weather that made the Keeper and the best trophy in sports tardy for the celebration.

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"People that weren't (at the game yet) were in traffic and just leaving their cars and walking and the roads were flooded, the highways were flooded, the bypass was like a lake. And as we were coming out towards the arena, we realized then that we were going to need some help, not just Mother Nature help, but we're going to need security help with it as well," Pritchard said.

"As we pulled into the arena — obviously the game had finished and the Blackhawks won — the home team's going nuts, the hometown fans are going crazy. So we presented (the Conn Smythe) to Duncan Keith and then we brought the Stanley Cup out and I remember on the ice talking to Jonathan Toews and he said, 'That was so cool that it took so long and the fans were loving it.' And I was telling him what went on and he goes, 'Really? I just thought it was part of the effect.'"

Report: NHL 2020 training camp, hub city report, playoff start dates emerge

Report: NHL 2020 training camp, hub city report, playoff start dates emerge

Friday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported some key dates being targeted for the NHL's Return To Play plan, including the start of the 24-team playoff format.

McKenzie said the new slated date for team training camps (Phase 3) is July 13. Teams would report to the hub cities (reportedly Edmonton and Toronto) on July 26 with games and Phase 4 beginning on August 1. 

Bob also shed some light on when Phase 2 of the NHL Draft Lottery and the conclusion of the playoffs may pan out.

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"The second phase of the NHL draft lottery will occur immediately following the best-of-five, play-in qualifying series, so around Aug. 10-12 if all were to go well. Stanley Cup final would wrap up in early October. NHL draft would happen soon after that," he tweeted Friday.

Related: Report: Edmonton expected to host Stanley Cup Final

In Phase 1, the No. 1 overall pick for the 2020 NHL Draft went to a placeholder team. Each of the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round of the postseason format will have a 12.5 percent chance of getting the top pick in Phase 2. 

Related: What if Blackhawks get No. 1 pick and select Alexis LaFreniere?