The NHL’s Latest Hub City Hubbub

The NHL officially entered phase 2 of their ‘return to play‘ plan today. Phase 3, which calls for teams to gather in one of two hub cities to begin quarantine, hold training camps, and ultimately play playoff games, is currently set for mid-July. The final selection of those two hub cities is just days away, but plenty of uncertainty remains.

Hub City Candidates

As you may recall, the cities in contention to host the 2020 playoff games include:

  • Chicago
  • Columbus
  • Dallas
  • Edmonton
  • LasVegas
  • Los Angeles
  • St. Paul
  • Pittsburgh
  • Toronto, and
  • Vancouver

Oh, Canada:

Things may be looking up for the Canadian candidate locations. Once believed to be a deal-breaker, it sounds like the Canadian government may be loosening it’s grip on border-crossing restrictions.

While he wouldn’t be specific about what the deadline is, Bill Daly told TSN the Canadian Government is very aware of the NHL’s timeline for a decision on the border quarantine issue. Dialogue continues. He adds all 3 Canadian cities remain options for the NHL’s hub city plan.

As of now, Canadian federal law requires those entering the country to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, making it tough to foresee the NHL deciding on one hub city in Canada and one in the United States. However, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has discussed possible exceptions with the federal government, including the possibility of allowing the NHL’s bubble environment to serve as part of the two-week quarantine which would allow games and practices to continue.

Because Las Vegas is a very likely selection for one of the hub sites, it’s very unlikely the NHL will go with two hub cities in the western time zone, thus eliminating Edmonton and Vancouver. If Canada does get a city, look for Toronto to get the call. Otherwise don’t be surprised if Chicago gets the ‘second city‘.

The U.S. government facilitated boarder crossings for athletes on May 23. (Here)

Scheduling:

Commissioner Bettman said on Thursday, May 28, “I’m going to probably have to make a decision collectively on this probably in three weeks. I think in two weeks we’ll start narrowing down further. Somewhere around three weeks we’re going to have to pull the trigger and finalize the arrangements and make the deposits.”

If you project that out, a short list should be made by this coming Thursday, June 11, with decision on the final two locations coming the following week, by Friday, June 19.

As for the start of phase 3 at each hub location, the league is still holding on to the mid-July timeframe.

Hub City Setup

According to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, there will be absolutely no media at the hub city locations.

“One city is almost certain to be Las Vegas. The other may come down to Chicago or Los Angeles. And I’m told there will be no media, including game announcers, on-site.”

The league shut down on March 12 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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