It’s official, Vancouver will not be a hub city when the NHL returns to play this summer.
After weeks of working with the provincial government and the NHL, the Canucks released a statement Thursday afternoon confirming the news.
“We sincerely thank Premier Horgan, Minister Beare, Dr. Bonnie Henry and their teams for their incredible support as we worked through the opportunity to host NHL teams in Vancouver. It has been a collaborative effort form the beginning with the NHL and all parties involved throughout the entire process,” said Canucks COO Trent Carroll. “From the beginning, our goal was to help the NHL get hockey back on the ice if we could. Although Vancouver won’t be a Hub City, we are still excited to see hockey start up again.”
The NHL’s decision not to pick Vancouver comes despite it being the safest location possible to hold games due to the efforts of British Columbia.
Vancouver was reportedly a frontrunner to host games as late as Tuesday. Multiple reports indicate that strict health rules in the event that someone inside the NHL’s bubble got sick were what may have derailed the bid.
“What we provided was our advice and basically the fact that we would take the health of the players and the health of our province as the primary concern in terms of having the NHL play in Vancouver,” Dr. Henry said prior to the Canucks announcement. “I actually think that is a positive for us and that it should have been something that the NHL saw as a positive partnership.”
Though fans wouldn’t have been able to attend games anyway, not having games in Vancouver will be a loss for some local hotels and restaurants, who stood to profit off of over 600 NHL players, staff, and officials setting up shop for upwards of two months in the city.
The NHL’s shortlist is now down to five, with Edmonton, Toronto, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Los Angeles still in the mix. Eastern and Western Conference teams will be assigned to one of two hub cities.
Canucks players will soon begin returning from their offseason homes around North America and Europe in preparation for training camp in Vancouver, which begins July 10. The Canucks will match up against the Minnesota Wild in a best-of-five qualifying round series, likely to begin at the end of July or early August.