Remarkably, because two players tested positive for the coronavirus at the Team Canada selection camp in Red Deer, there are those who think the IIHF should just call the entire Edmonton 2021 world junior tournament off.
How soon people forget.
There were positive tests involving several NHL teams prior to heading to the Hub City bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton, including with the Tampa Bay Lightning team that ended up winning the Stanley Cup.
There wasn’t a single positive test by any player on any of the 24 teams involved after they checked into the bubbles.
Yes, having a 14-day quarantine for the entire Canadian team at the training camp in Red Deer is uncharted territory.
While Hockey Canada served up senior VP of national teams Scott Salmond and head coach Andre Tourigny to speak to the challenges that will be involved in dealing with teenagers forced into this situation, there was one other person involved in the zoom call Thursday and he was definitely worth a listen.
That was Dean McIntosh, Hockey Canada’s VP of events and properties.
“The plan we built in Red Deer was for a protected environment,” said McIntosh. “We are putting in place in Edmonton what I’m going to call a more secure bubble environment for the event.
“For the protected environment in Red Deer we had players travelling commercially across the country. We put testing protocols in place, certainly, based on Alberta Health Services recommendations.
“But when you look at what we’re going to do in Edmonton, I think those protective measures are much higher.”
The eight teams from Europe, for one thing, will fly to Edmonton sharing three charter planes.
“Those teams will be required to be quarantined and tested for seven days prior to travel and test negatively for those seven days.
“Then when we get to Edmonton we have a three-tiered approach. The players will be tested on a daily basis. The players will be in their rooms for five days upon arrival,” he said of the Dec. 13 opening of the bubble.
“They’ll be in single rooms and they’ll be tested every day in their rooms.
“The third approach we have, Telus has allowed us to power up and put into play for this tournament. What it does, is allow us to know where everyone is at in the bubble at all times. That may sound a little high-level, but our goal is to insure that the players, staff and everyone else in the bubble is in a very safe environment and are following the protocols we put in place.
“We feel strongly to deliver a great event in Edmonton.”
And where is the government at with proceeding with the event as planned?
“I can tell you the provincial government is incredibly supportive right from the office of the Premier to Dr. (Deena) Hinshaw,” said McIntosh.
“They are extremely supportive of the event. And there are a number of reasons why that are key to discuss. First and foremost is that we have good players here, many of whom are in their 19-year-old year and will be in their final appearance. I think that’s something the province realizes and recognizes.
“And I think the other thing is that we really have an opportunity to give Canadians a gift here at Christmas. We’ve heard a lot from the health authorities urging Canadians to stay at home over the Christmas season and what better way to do it than to watch 38 hockey games on TSN and RDS over 15 or 16 days.”
Hockey Canada gave this team a long runway, not necessarily with something like this in mind, but some of the teams in Europe have chosen not to have a selection camp this year because of the circumstances. They’re selecting the team from what they know watching the players perform.
With no WHL or OHL games, Canada was at a disadvantage that way.
But if there’s one team that should be able to handle this it’s the defending gold medal champions with six returning players and Kirby Dach, who turned into a force in his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks.
This Canadian team has unbelievable depth this year and will still be going into the tournament as the best team on paper.
You have to feel for the three NCAA players who are just completing 14 days each in quarantine, only to have the entire team now starting 14 more days.
And for a guy like Edmonton Oilers first-round draft pick Dylan Holloway, who already has missed four games he could have played with Wisconsin that it turns out he could have played, it’s a real bummer.
You have to figure that going through this — two weeks of camp with exercise bikes delivered to each of their single rooms and the plans they’re producing to keep players involved with daily speakers via Zoom to poker tournaments and any number of other things to entertain them — should bring the team together to an ever far greater degree.
They can tell themselves that everything they’re having to overcome will just make winning gold even more satisfying.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020