The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season at some point in August, and it has been searching for a pair of hub cities to host all of the remaining games. League sources have indicated that NHL executives have narrowed their focus to two Canadian cities, and the final details are now being worked out.
The NHL is looking to name Toronto and Edmonton as the two hub cities, and each conference would be sent to a different location. All of the remaining games will be played in these two cities, and players and team staff will be staying on location in these cities as well.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will not make an official announcement until the NHL players approve of the return to play plan. A vote is expected to take place next week, and it is widely believed that the players will agree to the plan, and to these two cities.
There were more than a dozen cities that applied to be a hub city for the NHL Playoffs, and the league has been eliminating options over the last few weeks. League officials had hoped to have a city in both the US and Canada, but they have decided to award both choices to cities north of the border.
Las Vegas was once considered the frontrunner to be named a hub city, but the state has recently seen a huge surge in positive coronavirus cases. This caused the league to reconsider, and they are planning to look elsewhere.
Chicago was also a strong candidate to be named a hub city, but the league was worried about the numbers that are being reported from the state of Illinois. Chicago has several rinks in close proximity, but the league was unclear how safe the hotels would be.
Travel Restrictions Will be Lifted
Anyone traveling between the United States and Canada is forced to self-quarantine for 14 days. This policy has been in place for more than two months, and it will remain in place throughout the summer.
Canada prime minister Justin Trudeau is willing to lift that restriction for NHL players and the traveling party from each team. The NHL submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister, and his office was willing to work with the league.
Players will still have some strict restrictions placed on them once they travel to Canada, and testing will be a regular occurrence. The league has not officially announced its testing policy, and they are also working with the players to develop a plan if someone tests positive.
By choosing a pair of Canadian cities as the hubs, the league will be saving a large amount of money. The NHL has already lost more than $1 billion with the cancellation of the remainder of the regular season, and they are looking to save money any way that they can.
Training Camps to Begin Soon
The league announced that training camps could resume on July 10, but sources say that the date will be pushed back. NHL executives are waiting on the vote from the players before they begin ramping things up for a potential return.
Players have been allowed to start individual workouts at their team facilities, but coaches have not been able to work with the players. All players have to be tested before entering the team facility, and there have been some positive cases reported.
The NHL is hoping to begin the expanded playoff format in early August, with hopes of finishing the season in September. Bettman and his office are currently working on a plan for the 2020-21 regular season.