Leaves cross border by bus to avoid COVID testing

TAMPA | One of the joys of being a professional athlete is being able to travel on a chartered flight. No stopovers, no waiting at the airport surrounded by colleagues. lucky what! Except that a pandemic often changes plans.

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The United States may have been one of the least strict countries when it comes to health restrictions, but the fact remains that they still require a negative antigen test result to enter their territory by air. .

Who says test, of course means risk of a bad result and thus risk of having to do without an important player for a few games. To avoid this tragedy, the Maple Leafs crossed the border by land before flying from Buffalo to Tampa. A short detour of about two and a half hours by bus.

“We’re just following what the NBA and major league baseball teams started,” Sheldon Keefe said hours before the third game against the Lightning. We want to avoid getting bad results that would affect our group. »

No burger on board

Accustomed to comfort, the Leafs players didn’t seem to worry too much about this issue in their routine.

“We raised this idea within the group last week,” said John Tavares. It’s unusual, but the organization makes sure everything is put in order so that we have the best conditions to play. It was a little longer than normal, but we arrived in Tampa at the same time as if we had flown. Nothing has changed in our daily routine today. »

For Jason Spezza, it was an opportunity to look back on his golden years in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

“Unlike before, there were no hamburgers on the bus,” he said and laughed.

“I don’t have the level of compensation to make decisions like that. I go where I’m supposed to go, he continued. They tell me to take the bus, I’ll take the bus. They tell me to take the plane, I’ll take the plane. As long as both options get me into the arena, I’m happy. »

The flash, for its part, took the usual route.

“Everyone passed the test. Everything is beautiful,” said Jon Cooper, seeing the surprise on the faces of some of his colleagues.

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