The NHL playoffs are well underway and hockey teams in the United States have been able to have fans at a reduced capacity. While the teams aren’t hosting typical sellouts, tickets are hard to come by and prices have skyrocketed due to the demand.
With three Canadian teams left in the playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens opened their doors to a select number of fans for Game 6 between the Canadiens and rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Facing elimination, the Canadiens were able to drop the Maple Leafs in overtime to force a deciding Game 7.
With the series shifted back to Toronto, many wondered if the Maple Leafs would be allowed to host fans. Maple Leafs tickets are typically more expensive than those of other teams, so it would have been interesting to see the market for the seventh game between these teams.
However, the Ontario Government shut down all hope of having fans in attendance for this crucial game.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown asked people to sign an online petition to let frontline healthcare workers who are fully vaccinated attend Game 7 at Scotiabank Arena.
Unfortunately, an Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Tourism, Culture, and Sport spokesperson said it was not feasible for Monday.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said that it was up to the province whether they would allow fans, but supports a measured return for some spectators.
Under Ontario’s current reopening plan, it is not expected that indoor sports spectators will be allowed until August.
Of course, this decision has sparked a debate on social media. Many feel that it isn’t fair for one team to allow fans, while another team is not allowed to host fans midway through a series. It was also brought up that the introduction of fans into a crucial game like Saturday night could have heavy implications on the remainder of the first-round series.
As of Saturday, Quebec’s late of active cases per capita were roughly half of Ontario, with Ontario seeing 98 infections per 100,000, compared to Quebec’s 52.
If Toronto were to move onto the second round and meet with the Winnipeg Jets, it will be interesting to see if the Ontario Government would reconsider its decision.
The current proposal from Brown would allow a certain number of fully vaccinated frontline workers to attend the game; a gesture of thanks for battling the virus that shut down the sport in the first place.
Toronto has faced past demons in both the first-round and Game 7. The Maple Leafs have not made the second-round since 2004 and were washed away famously by the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Up 3-1 in the series, Toronto has had two chances to wash away the Canadiens. Now, both teams have one more chance to move onto the second round on Monday.