No hockey on the Hill in 2017, Heritage Minister's office says

The NHL's power play to try to get an outdoor game on the front lawn of Parliament Hill in December 2017 has collapsed.

Parliamentary business, public access and security cited as roadblocks

Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators became the seventh and final Canadian team to be eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the first time since 1970 the NHL’s post-season will involve only American-based teams. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The NHL's power play to try to get an outdoor game on the front lawn of Parliament Hill in December 2017 has collapsed.

A spokesman for Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly suggested the logistics for holding an outdoor hockey game on the Hill were too great.

"In the highly complex environment regarding events on Parliament Hill, including the need for the uninterrupted operations of parliamentary business, public access and security, a full-stadium NHL game was deemed not feasible and is no longer one of the options being considered," Pierre-Olivier Herbert wrote in an email to CBC News.

The proposal was submitted by the NHL as a possible signature event for Canada 150. 

But holding an NHL game on the Hill presented huge issues, including the 16 to 18 weeks it would have required to set up a temporary arena for 30,000 spectators. 

It would have put the parliamentary greensward under construction for most of the fall of 2017, when tourists are expected to be visiting the capital for the sesquicentennial.

The plan would also have broken most of the protocols for the use of Parliament Hill. Included in the long list of activities that are prohibited there:

  • Organized sporting events.
  • Charging admission fees.
  • Selling alcohol.
  • Selling food.
  • Structures of any kind, props, billboards.
  • Commercial advertising.

In September, Ottawa Senators president Cyril Leeder told radio sports station TSN1200  that "there's really only one option we've been working on and that's to try to find a way to make that game work on Parliament Hill."

The Ottawa Senators said in a statement they were "disappointed for all Canadian hockey fans that we will not have the opportunity to witness an NHL Outdoor Game on Parliament Hill."

"To host a game on Parliament Hill would have been iconic and historic and, in our view, the best way to cap off the year-long celebrations in 2017 to honour both the League's Centennial and Canada's 150," the team said.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson in a statement Friday thanked the federal government for their "thoughtful and diligent consideration of the matter."

It's unclear whether the latest development means the Senators will now try to revive an outdoor game at TD Place at Lansdowne Park, where 36,000 seats will already be set up from the Grey Cup the previous month.

Watson has been pushing for the outdoor game to be held in Ottawa during the city's celebrations of Canada's 150th anniversary, and said he would meet with the Senators ownership next week to see if it was still possible elsewhere.

"I look forward to working on their behalf over the next few months in an attempt to secure an agreement between the City and the Senators that would see this happen in Ottawa in 2017," wrote Watson.

Dec. 19, 2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Senators' first NHL game, played in Ottawa against the Montreal Canadiens.

About the Author

Joanne Chianello

City affairs analyst

Joanne Chianello is an award-winning journalist and CBC Ottawa's city affairs analyst. You can email her at or tweet her at @jchianello.