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Volume 26 No. 177
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Alberta Premier Makes Case For Edmonton To Be NHL Hub City

Jason Kenney noted Edmonton has the highest per capita COVID-19 testing in North America
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Jason Kenney noted Edmonton has the highest per capita COVID-19 testing in North America
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Jason Kenney noted Edmonton has the highest per capita COVID-19 testing in North America
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Edmonton is the "safest place" the NHL "could find in the continent" as the city bids to secure a bulk of the games should the season resume, according to Terry Jones of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. If safety of the players and everybody involved is "indeed the NHL's No. 1 priority, Kenney certainly emphasized that first and foremost." He added Edmonton has the "highest per capita testing in North America, if not the world." Kenney: "We have one of the best facilities -- I would say the best facility -- with the brand new Rogers Place Arena. ... All of the services are right there to be safely integrated in a protected zone that would keep the players and staff insulated. So I think we have a very strong pitch to make." Meanwhile, Jones notes Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson was "already one step ahead" of Kenney, having "sent an official letter of support" to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman last week. The NHL "recently indicated it was down to seven or eight possible hubs, including Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton in Canada, and Las Vegas" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 5/20).

OTHER CITIES INTERESTED: In Nashville, Gentry Estes reports the city is "interested in serving as a neutral-site host." Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. President & CEO Butch Spyridon said, "We have the practice facilities, the game facility, the walking distance of hotels. I think we're as well-equipped (as anyone), when you add in our geographic location for teams to get here." Spyridon said that he has communicated with Predators President & CEO Sean Henry about "supporting the idea of hosting games, though Spyridon doesn't know where Nashville stands in the NHL's ongoing process" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 5/20). In Minneapolis, Sarah McLellan cites a source as saying that the Wild are interested in St. Paul "being one of those hubs" for a restarted season. Xcel Energy Center has "six locker rooms on its event level, and the Tria Rink -- the Wild’s practice facility -- is less than a mile away" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/20).

ONE POTENTIAL CONCERN: In Denver, Mike Chambers notes Lightning analyst Brian Engblom "sees a crack in any plan to resume the 2019-20 season before the U.S. and Canada have a better handle on the coronavirus pandemic." Engblom said, "What if a player from one of the playoff teams says, 'I'm not doing this. I'm not comfortable. I'm not playing, end of story?'" He added, "People are afraid and they have every right to be. If you have one player, and maybe he's a real key player. What do you do? It's a free country. That person is allowed to say no. These are unprecedented times. How can you make them do anything?" Chambers notes NHL players are "owed just one more regular-season paycheck, and they will collect that at the end of the month or, for players under contract next season, it will be put into escrow until play resumes." Players "aren't paid in the playoffs." Thus, at-risk or concerned players "don't have a huge financial incentive to return this season in relation to what they make during the regular season" (DENVER POST, 5/20).