Is this the week we finally nail down some information on when and where the NHL Playoffs are going to be?
Over the weekend, we learned that the Canadian Government is allowing teams to come to Canada and play games, giving them an exemption to quarantine and other travel restrictions. This quickly allowed a couple names to pop up as potential Hubs for the NHL to run their playoffs. Vancouver and Toronto.
A lot of reporters corroborated this story, saying they would all be surprised if a Canadian city wasn’t picked, and Vancouver was the most advertised choice among their speculation.
NHL source involved in process tells me that there’s a “good chance” at least one of the hub cities for a restarted 2019-20 season will be in Canada, which many of us are suspecting at this point.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 21, 2020
In terms of a potential second Canadian city hosting the event, it looks like Edmonton is not in the running, according to a local media member.
Heard from someone with a good connection to the league that the hub cities are picked.— Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) June 21, 2020
They said it’s Vegas for the Eastern Conference and Vancouver for the Western Conference.
So it sounds like Edmonton is not going to get the games.
The two Vs — Vancouver/Vegas, maybe. Next two weeks: hub selections, lottery, player vote on protocols/CBA framework. All while we monitor testing results. https://t.co/8xgcHRZJZP— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 20, 2020
I don’t have much faith in Vegas remaining a hub for teams, especially considering their recent spike in cases as they’ve opened. According to local reports, people are not following social distancing guidelines and keeping safe the way they should. It doesn’t look safe. That leads me to believe Toronto is a real option due to their amenities (close location between hotels, food, and arena).
Elliotte Friedman: "If you would've told me a month ago there would be 2 Canadian hubs, I would've laughed in your face, but now we all have to consider the possibility that it could actually happen."— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) June 20, 2020
I shared a tweet thread that contains COVID-19 case data for each states with NHL teams in them in order to show which areas will be safe for hubs, but also just for training camps.
I have lots of questions as to how teams — reportedly including the Tampa Bay Lightning — are going to have a training camp if they can’t open their training facility without an outbreak. Arizona is another team that likely had to close their facility after 11 cases in one day. St. Louis, Vegas, Carolina, Nashville, and Dallas are all teams in states with rising cases that look like Arizona and Florida as of Friday.
A thread:— Hardev Lad (@HardevLad) June 19, 2020
COVID-19 cases as of June 19th for states/provinces with NHL Return to Play teams #NHL
Note: these are total positive cases over time, not a rate, so the y-axis changes
Source: Google News/NYT https://t.co/IUZQZpvmJI
In terms of timelines, here’s what the Insiders think. A lot needs to happen in the next two weeks as deadlines loom and hard plans need to be made with the hub cities.
The hope/expectation is for the NHL/NHLPA to agree on the 2 hub cities by the end of this upcoming week. Time is of the essence, the league needs to negotiate deals with both hub cities (hotels, etc) once selected— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 20, 2020
In terms of what the players think, some aren’t so hot on this idea. At all. The following quote comes from a star player in the Western Conference. The NHLPA has not actually had any member vote, only executive committee meetings and votes (one player from each franchise). I wonder what the Lightning are thinking after last week, too. They voted against the NHL’s plans in the PA executive committee votes.
In other sports, MLB had 40 positive tests in one week as they still negotiate the playing of games. Toronto had to close their Dunedin training facility and move back to Toronto for training camp. Unless they move in with the Rays, that is.
MLB has reportedly seen 40 players and staff test positive for COVID-19 in the past week as negotiations drag on between the league and players in an attempt to start the pandemic-delayed 2020 season.https://t.co/BrMJCqIC2x— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 22, 2020
And in some local Tampa Bay news, check out the front page of the Sports section at the Tampa Bay Times.