Trudeau Backs Three Canadian Cities Vying To Be NHL Hubs
The NHL likely will announce next week "who the official hub cities will be" when it returns, and while all signs point to Las Vegas being one of the two hubs, "all three Canadian cities -- Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton -- (are) all very much in the mix,” according to TSN's Bob McKenzie ("Insider Trading," TSN.ca, 6/16). In Toronto, Kevin McGran reports the three Canadian cities "received a huge boost" yesterday from Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who "publicly backed the idea in his daily briefing." Trudeau said, "We have indicated that we are comfortable with moving forward on an NHL hub in one of three Canadian cities that are asking for it. Obviously the decision needs to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction." Trudeau's message was "welcomed by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman." McGran notes Trudeau’s statement came on the same day Canada and the U.S. "extended current border restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, including mandatory 14-day self-isolation for anyone entering Canada, until July 21" (TORONTO STAR, 6/17).
CHICAGO STYLE? TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported Bettman during Monday's BOG call "listed all 10 markets again as still being in the mix" to be hub cities, so the league appears to want to "push this as long as they can before picking those two cities." Chicago has been "pushed through as of late," and it could become a possibility if Toronto, Vancouver or Edmonton "can’t work out." LeBrun: "Players like being in Chicago, and that’s a consideration when the two sides try to figure out the two hubs” (“Insider Trading,” TSN.ca, 6/16).
DEALING WITH THE BUBBLE: SPORTSNET.ca's Chris Johnston noted how restrictive the league's return-to-play protocol will be is "subject to ongoing negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA, and will ultimately be part of the package each side must approve before play resumes." The bubble environment has "proven to be a challenge for the NBA." While "concerns exist among some NHL players, especially as it pertains to the amount of time they’ll be separated from their families, they don’t seem nearly as pronounced" (SPORTSNET.ca, 6/16). In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise writes the NHL "seems to have the best plan." Zeise: "By that, I mean it seems like the owners and players are well on their way toward harmony. That is so important in all these things. There are still these issues, like which cities the teams will play in and how that will be pulled off, but it seems like there is a good chance we will see hockey" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/17).