GARRIOCH: Senators want full house for opening night

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The Ottawa senators have finally been given the green light to have a full house in the Canadian Tire Center.

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In this case, it really is better late than never.

Usually you do not get good news with a message late on a Friday afternoon, but Dr. Kieran Moore, the chief physician of Ontario, confirmed the senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams across the province would be able to play games with crowds at full capacity.

The Senators and Leafs had been the only National Hockey League teams not to be told they could sell all their seats. The Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Redblacks, Toronto Argos and Hamilton Tiger-Cats will also have larger crowds.

Two weeks ago, senators were allowed to move to 50 percent of capacity. That amounted to about 9,300 people. Now they will be able to sell all 18,652 seats in their building.

Senator owner Eugene Melnyk and Anthony LeBlanc, president of business operations, have been in talks with the province about capacity constraints for more than 10 months. It started with getting OK to get the team to play in an empty building last season and is continuing from there.

“We are excited about today’s announcement,” Melnyk said. “On behalf of the organization, I would like to thank the many officials with whom we have had extensive contacts, including Prime Minister Doug Ford, for reaching this point, while reassuring our fans that we will continue to be careful and take all precautionary measures. measures to guarantee the collective safety of individuals when they are in our building. ”

This is also good news for the 17 Ontario Hockey League teams based in the province – including the Ottawa 67s – and the American Hockey League’s Belleville Senators and Toronto Marlies.

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In a speech to The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll about CFRA, LeBlanc warned people to make sure they arrived on the field early.

“We could not be more excited. We have had fans in the building for the last few weeks, which has been great because it has given us the opportunity to iron out a few cracks, ”said LeBlanc. “We have been able to eradicate the procedures to get people into the building early.

“There is definitely some change in terms of getting into the building early compared to the last time we had so many fans in the building in March 2020.”

LeBlanc says there is a lot of logistics associated with having to check people’s vaccine passports. There will be several outdoor events, including live bands and activities for children, to make fans feel like they are coming to an event.

The NHL has also introduced a strict bag size policy that fans should be aware of this season.

“There are a number of things, and some are good, and some are just changes that happened because of the pandemic,” LeBlanc said. “There is a two-step process to get into the building. You must present proof of vaccination and your identification. When you do, you begin to enter the building.

“We have had the opportunity to try things out in the pre-season. We want people to be excited from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave the building. ”

This also applies to concerts and other events on the field. Health and safety measures include new ventilation and a cash-free environment. The delay in the announcement has not made planning easy for any of the teams.

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“I am grateful for the continued efforts to vaccinate the Ontarians and to follow measures and advice from public health as we cautiously and gradually reopened the province. Our public health and health indicators continue to evolve in the right direction and we are able to lift further restrictions, ”said Moore.

“But now is not the time to fail our guard. We must all continue to do our part and strictly follow the measures in force and get as many people as fully vaccinated as possible, especially as we enter the holiday season. ”

After playing last season in empty lanes, Senators players have been happy to look up at the ice to see people on the seats. Tarps with advertising are long gone and it will be good to see people in those places.

Yet the government wants people to keep getting vaccinated, not only so that they can attend these events, but also so that the world can return to normal one day.

“As we continue to see more Ontarians roll up their sleeves with over 22 million doses administered, our government is cautiously raising capacity limits in selected settings, where we know evidence of vaccination requirements provides an extra layer of protection for Ontarians,” the health minister said. Christine Elliott said in a statement.

“The fight against COVID-19 is not over and we must all be vigilant by continuing to follow the public health measures we know, work and protect ourselves and receive your first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccine if you do not have already done so. ”

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