According to Sportsnet’s Lain MacIntyre, discussions between the NHL, Canucks and provincial and regional health officials to finalize plans for Vancouver are stuck on a key concern: contingency plans should a player or players test positive for COVID-19 within the “bubble” the league wants established around teams.
Late Tuesday nights reports began to surface that Vancouver looked to be one of the two hub cities, with several reports even stating that teams had already begun to book hotel reservations.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston joined Brendan Batchelor and Jamie Dodd to discuss the possibility of Vancouver being a hub city and how the progress seemed to completely halt in the last 24 hours. Johnston reported that “the momentum has completely stopped.”
Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman reported earlier that it’s unclear to what degree the snag could scuttle Vancouver’s bid, but the NHL is eager to finalize its hub cities. An announcement could come this week. Talks between the league and health officials in British Columbia were ongoing as of mid-day Wednesday.
It has been reported that the NHL wants at least one hub city north of the border.
“Ultimately, we want to pick the safest cities,” commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet in May. “And ‘safest’ goes to what the condition of the virus is in the city and whether the city has it under control and the health facilities that are available.”
This week the NHL reduced the candidate cities to six remaining cities, as Pittsburgh, Columbus, Dallas and St. Paul were officially eliminated from contention. The six cities that remain under consideration to host the tournament include Las Vegas, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Despite rising COVID numbers in Nevada – and much of the United States – the NHL reportedly still considers Las Vegas a hub-city front-runner due to the scope and security of the bubble that massive MGM Resorts can provide around T-Mobile Arena. Los Angeles and Chicago are the other hub-city candidates in the U.S.
The NHL is set to open training camps for three weeks (two in the club’s city and one in the hub city) beginning July 10 and the season is reportedly set to resume on July 31.
By Jon Sorensen