Vancouver now a frontrunner to be NHL hub city: reports

Jun 20 2020, 2:12 pm

The NHL appears to be leaning towards picking Vancouver as one of its hub cities, according to multiple new reports today.

Vancouver’s bid has “picked up steam” according to Sportsnet 650’s Satiar Shah, which was supported by Irfaan Gaffar and The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta. CTV’s Jason Pires appears to be hearing much of the same, saying “lots of signs now pointing to Vancouver.”

Vancouver, along with Las Vegas, appear to be a frontrunner to host games, despite both being Western Conference cities. If those are indeed the NHL’s hub cities, only one of the Canucks or Golden Knights will get to play at home, as either Las Vegas or Vancouver will host Eastern Conference teams.

The bid to hold games in Canada, in which Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto made the NHL’s shortlist, got a necessary shot in the arm when the Canadian government agreed to redefine the 14-day quarantine rule for NHL players. At first glance, that may sound like a terrifying proposition, but the NHL’s plan — which includes testing of players before arrival and throughout their time in hub cities — has been approved by BC Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“I have reviewed that plan, and it exceeds the requirements that we have in place, even today. And it meets our criteria for protecting the community, without compromise,” Dr. Henry said last week.

Still, there will be some nerves as the NHL announced yesterday that 11 players tested positive for the coronavirus. But as teams convene for training camp and eventually the resumption of play, the plan is to test players “every day” according to Commissioner Gary Bettman, with players being kept away from the community.

“Players are going to be tested every day, as will the sporting personnel,” Bettman said in an interview with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg. “If there’s one positive test, again this will be under the strict guidance of the medical people, that person will be isolated and we’ll be monitoring anybody through contact tracing that was in close proximity.”

Vancouver appears to be the safest place in the league to host games, especially when compared to a place like Florida, which is currently seeing a surge in cases beyond 4,000 new ones per day. British Columbia announced just eight new cases on Friday and hasn’t had a virus-related death in over a week. There are now just 190 active cases in the entire province.

Nevada has the second-fewest active cases (3,729) among states with an NHL team, but reported 445 new cases on Saturday — its largest single-day increase.

Training camps are scheduled to start across the league on July 10, with a new report from the New York Post’s Larry Brooks stating that the qualifying round would begin on July 30.