Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) falls over Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) during third period NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) falls over Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) during third period NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

550 health-care workers invited to attend Game 7 between Maple Leafs and Canadiens

Fully vaccinated group will take in series-deciding match-up between iconic franchises

Ontario has given the green light for 550 fully vaccinated health-care workers to attend Monday night’s Game 7 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the visiting Montreal Canadiens in their first-round playoff series.

Premier Doug Ford’s office says the front-line workers received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine more than two weeks ago and will go through screening and other precautionary measures.

The province says the crowd will be “well below” capacity for 19,800-seat Scotiabank Arena.

Some 2,500 people were in the stands in Montreal when the two teams last clashed on Saturday. That was the first crowd for a game in Canada this year.

“I wish I could have 2,500, but the docs said 550. We’ll take that,” Ford said.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Maple Leafs’ ownership group, is covering the cost for the 550 health-care workers to attend. Ford said in a statement Scotiabank will provide jerseys for the workers.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Leafs forward Joe Thornton said. “A lot of vaccinations have been rolling out. Can’t wait for more people to start coming to this building. It’s going to be fun to play in front of, I know it’s only 500, but hopefully we’ll build off this and continue to get more people going forward.”

Leafs forward Jason Spezza was looking forward to the support.

“I think it’s just a great sign for where we’re headed as a society. I think it’s a great way to recognize the health-care workers for all the hard work they’ve done to get us to this point where they’re allowed to come in,” he said. “And then as players, obviously we enjoy playing in front of people.”

Toronto has lost six post-season series in a row since beating the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the NHL playoffs in 2004. The underdog Habs have won two consecutive overtime games to set the stage for Game 7.

The lone previous Game 7 between the Original Six rivals came in 1964 when Dave Keon had a hat trick to lead Toronto to a 3-1 win at the Montreal Forum.

Toronto has lost seven straight contests where it could have eliminated an opponent. That includes six since 2018 with the core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

The Canadiens finished 18 points behind the first-place Leafs in this year’s 56-game campaign. The winner of the series faces the Winnipeg Jets in the North Division final, which will start Wednesday.

The Leafs got a moral boost earlier Monday when captain John Tavares took part in an optional skate. He suffered a concussion and a knee injury in a scary collision in Game 1 and was stretchered off the ice.

“We all know how hard John works and how much he cares,” Spezza said. “By us winning this game tonight, it gives him a chance to potentially come back and play.”

Meanwhile, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said defenceman Jake Muzzin is expected to miss three weeks with a lower-body injury suffered Saturday in Game 6.

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: NHL working on Canadian quarantine exemption for Stanley Cup playoffs: Sources

CoronavirusHealthcareNHL

Just Posted

Some algae is visible at the swimming ponds at Millennium Park. Photo: Betsy Kline
City of Castlegar says Millennium Ponds safe, in spite of algae

Water samples are regularly sent to Interior Health

Black Press file photo
City of Castlegar plans to offer dumpster for small amounts of summer garbage

Bear Smart initiative looking to reduce wildlife conflict

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

A volunteer delivers food to families as part of a West Kootenay EcoSociety program. Photo: Submitted
Farms to Friends delivers 2,500th bag of food to families in need

The program services communities in the Nelson, Trail and Castlegar areas

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read