Tuesday afternoon Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the city would cancel all major city-wide events until June 30. For baseball fans hoping to start their season and basketball and hockey fans hoping to get back into the swing of theirs, the news makes it hard to envision live sports returning before July.
What does this mean for the NHL? Well, technically the ban is for city-wide events such as parades, events, festivals, and other cultural programs, excluding the NHL.
IMPORTANT: Toronto's ban is exclusively city-led events. This does not affect NHL/NBA/etc. from returning.— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) March 31, 2020
City exec of the Mayor's office told me via email, when asked if this affects pro sports:
"No, (the Mayor) was speaking City permitted events like parades and festivals." https://t.co/pwlgcjW0OB
However, professional sports will have to contend with the province of Ontario, which banned gatherings of more than five earlier this month.
Adding to this, City of Toronto's Chief Communications Officer Brad Ross told me: "Sporting events don’t require permits, but the mass gathering order was issued by the province and they would need to address that aspect."— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) March 31, 2020
ON banned gatherings of more than 5 ppl a few days ago. https://t.co/tMfa8RKcmy
The NHL recently reached out to arenas asking for their availability in July and August.
A reminder that the NHL asked its teams for building date availability through July and August...— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 31, 2020
The idea of finishing out the 2020 season in summer is becoming more and more likely as governments continue to grapple with the severity of COVID-19. There have been speculations about what this new schedule will look like for the NHL, including a shortened 2020-21 preseason and eliminating by-weeks and All-Star weekend. This will present its own unique challenges, including arenas in warmer climates struggling to maintain ice quality for summer games. But if more major cities follow Toronto’s lead, all we know for certain is that a return to normalcy may be longer than anticipated.