With Vancouver out of the race for NHL hub city, it's Edmonton vs. Toronto
EDMONTON -- The NHL could choose the two hub cities where the league will return to play this summer as early as Friday, according to TSN — and Edmonton remains in the running.
The league shortened its list of potential hub cities from 10 to six last Sunday to include Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago.
But Vancouver officially dropped out of the race Thursday after it did not receive clearance from government and health officials late in the process, while Los Angeles and Chicago have been widely thought to be on the outside looking in.
Vegas has been the front runner all along, and on Friday TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun said it is "extremely close" between Edmonton and Toronto.
TSN Edmonton reporter Ryan Rishaug confirmed Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, approved the Oilers Entertainment Group's pitch to the league.
LeBrun added the Ontario government supports Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment's bid.
OEG's bid was refined in recent days to follow Alberta's health regulations, with Dr. Hinshaw explaining Wednesday players coming from outside of Canada would first need to quarantine for 14 days.
All NHL personnel would then become a large cohort and remain quarantined in a bubble apart from the public while the NHL playoffs are ongoing.
Once family members are allowed in the NHL bubble, they would have to stay for the duration of the playoffs, and if they leave before, they would not be allowed back in, Hinshaw said.
- Oilers, Kenney continue campaign to make Edmonton hub city as NHL narrows down list
- Cohorts and quarantine: How Edmonton's hub city plans would work for NHL families
In a now infamous tweet with a video where Premier Jason Kenney said it's obvious the NHL should bring the playoffs to Edmonton, Alberta Tourism largely focused on Banff, Canmore and Jasper to encourage family members to vacation in Alberta's mountain towns before they can join the bubble.
As for the bubble itself, all players would stay at the JW Marriot in the Ice District, which would be turned into a sort of "Olympic Village" with golf simulators, basketball courts, movie nights and more entertainment.
The league is also working with local golf courses and restaurants for NHL personnel to golf on certain days without the public and to have food delivered to the bubble.
Some team staff members will initially have to stay at the Delta and Sutton Place hotels near Ice District, and OEG is coordinating with the Edmonton Police Service to have dedicated routes to the bubble for them.
As of Friday morning, Edmonton has 222 active cases of COVID-19.
MLSE also resubmitted its bid to move away from a downtown-core bubble near the Scotiabank Arena where the Toronto Maple Leafs play, to the 40-acre Exhibition Place just west of downtown, LeBrun reports.
Exhibition Place has Toronto FC's BMO Field, the Raptors' OVO Athletic Centre and the Marlies' Coca-Cola Coliseum, as well as Hotel X with 400 rooms.
MLSE would also bring in food trucks and an outdoor movie theatre, LeBrun added.
Toronto is also thought to be a good option being located it's in the Eastern Time zone, giving the league more television time slots, as opposed to the one-hour time difference between Edmonton and Vegas.
As of Wednesday, there were 897 active cases of COVID-19 in Toronto.
The NHL Players' Association planned to discuss Edmonton and Toronto's bids Friday morning, TSN reported.
The NHL could pick the two hub cities as early as Friday because there is a "huge time crunch," LeBrun said.
Training camp is slated to start on July 10.