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Is NHL hub announcement imminent?

Jul 1, 2020 3:00 AM

The long wait may be nearing its end.

The National Hockey League could announce Wednesday its two hub cities which will host its return to play at the end of July. Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto and Edmonton are reportedly the four cities still under consideration for use. Los Angeles was eliminated according to a report from TSN in Canada.

The resumption of play would be Phase 4 in the NHL’s plan. Phase 3, the opening of training camp for the 24 teams still participating, is tentatively scheduled for July 10. However, that date could be pushed back to as late as July 13.

At issue is the growing rate of positive coronavirus tests, including in Nevada, which on Tuesday was placed on New York State’s quarantine list. Visitors to New York from Nevada are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The league’s medical staff remains in constant communication with state and province health officials. The NHL still needs to have its safety and health protocols for playing in the hub cities approved by its Players Association.

The common wisdom throughout the process was to have one hub city in the United States and the other in Canada. And when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the NHL would be welcome to cross the border into his country to resume play, that accelerated discussions with Toronto, Edmonton, and, for a brief while, Vancouver. However, the league scratched Vancouver off its list after British Columbia health officials last week had some concerns regarding the overall protocols.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb said in a Monday Zoom conference with reporters that he was optimistic the season will resume.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty right now,” he said. “I think everyone believes we’re going to play. I know as a team we really want to play.”

In addition to the Return to Play plan, the NHL and the NHLPA are trying to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement along with coming to an agreement on free agency, revenue sharing, the salary cap for 2020-21 and the payment of early $450 million in bonuses to players. Those bonuses come due Wednesday. The two sides were in discussions Tuesday on those issues while also making a final decision on the hub cities.