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Oilers, AHS in talks as NHL cities submit proposals to bring hockey back: TSN
EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers and Alberta Health Services are working to bring NHL games to Rogers Place during the pandemic, TSN reports, as the league asks potential host cities to submit proposals to finish the 2019-20 season.
Reports last week said the NHL is studying the possibility of resuming the season — suspended on March 12 as COVID-19 began to spread rapidly in North America — in up to four cities.
An ESPN report suggested the league was looking at choosing one city per division, with Edmonton as the Pacific Division pick, to finish the regular season and host the Stanley Cup playoffs.
On Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province had not received an official proposal from the NHL.
"And if we do get such proposal, we'll obviously sit down with Dr. [Deena] Hinshaw's team to review, whether we could accommodate games, obviously without a crowd and I think that's what the NHL is looking at; they're looking at playing in arenas with nobody in the stands, but obviously for the television audience," Kenney said.
TSN reporter Ryan Rishaug said the NHL initially contacted potential hub cities with a "lengthy" list of criteria that needs to be met to host games and resume the season during the pandemic, and that organizations have begun to submit proposals.
"They were asked to reach out to regional health authorities to gauge their willingness to consult/help with the bigger medical barriers such as testing and PPE," Rishaug tweeted. "One of the biggest challenges is figuring out where tests will come from."
AHS is currently testing approximately 4,000 people per day and Kenney has said the province is gearing up to increase testing to 20,000 later in May. However, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told TSN the league wants to pay for its own testing and make sure it is available to those who need it more first.
The Oilers and AHS have more discussions scheduled for next week where the two parties will go into "much greater detail" to find solutions, Rishaug said.
As Alberta and Edmonton begin to relaunch their economies, Mayor Don Iveson says council is intrigued at the idea of playing games at Rogers Place.
"You know, the Oilers were on a tear this year, so I think we all want to see that come to fruition," Iveson said. "If there is an opportunity, again respecting public health and public safety, for the city and Rogers Place and the Oilers organization to be a part in helping the NHL to finish the season, I think I'd be very open to that, but I would say it's not at the top of our list compared to some of the other challenges that we're dealing with right now."
NHL teams have up to 14 games left each on the regular season schedule.