Around the NHL: Hub City Decision seems like it’s being left to the last minute

Maybe I’m in the minority on this one, but I truly couldn’t care less where teams end up playing. If the plan is to create a bubble around the players where they won’t be out interacting with the population and no one will be attending their games, whether they play in Vegas or Nashville or Regina doesn’t really matter. Okay, that’s not true. No one should ever have to visit Regina.

The point being that while we seem to now know that Vegas will be one of the two Hub cities, and there does seem to be a deadline in place of next Monday for an announcement, but doesn’t that seem ridiculously rushed.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

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MGM Resorts hotels in play to host visiting teams include Vdara, Delano, the Park MGM/NoMad Hotel and The Mirage, according to sources. The league reportedly has asked for a nongaming, nonsmoking hotel, leaving Vdara and Delano as the two most likely resorts to house the teams and their support staffs. Two hotels probably would be required to meet the needs of the visiting teams. .

COVID-19 testing is also a requirement.

In effect, the teams would be largely quarantined in their Strip resorts, where they will eat, sleep and reside between being shuttled to and from T-Mobile Arena, which is co-owned by MGM Resorts, and practice facilities.

WIth camps opening on July 10th, players, team officials, and (potentially) their families will be arriving in advance of that, there isn’t a significant amount of time to easily make travel preparations, build the hotel bubble cities, etc.

Of course, there’s also a very strong reality that the NHL already knows what other city will be the bubble city, and they’ve got a fall back one if the Canadian location doesn’t pan out.

From Sportsnet:

Ideally, the NHL would like to have a Canadian city serve as a hub alongside Vegas, but that won’t be finalized until the federal government makes a ruling. Toronto is the preferred destination, assuming the quarantine issue can be managed.

Assuming that the NHL does go with Toronto as one of it’s hub cities, I’m not sure whether this means anything to Leafs fans.

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Living in Toronto, it’s been strange to me to witness this bizarre attachment to the notion that being a hub city is some kind of boost for the city, and Edmonton has become so heavily invested in this idea that the Premier has made direct pitches to the NHL and lobbied the federal government for support in their claim.

As far as Toronto goes it seems to be more of a realization that hockey is still inaccessible to fans, and the decision is more about having hotels adjacent to the arena.

Toronto as an option does make a lot of sense. The NHL has offices there. The television networks are based out of Toronto. Coming and going by commercial flights are certainly easier out of Toronto as well, which may not be a concern, but still seems notable.

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Anyways, it seems like expecting the federal government to rush a decision for the sake of sports is a tad ridiculous, and that brings around the final issue…

Does it matter if a Canadian city is a hub city?

Considering the limited number of finals games played in Canada over the past 30 years, is it a real change to have the playoffs largely played in the U.S? Is there any benefit to having a Canadian hub city?

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The answer the last question is maybe. Assuming the two countries diverge at some point in the next couple of months on number of cases, COVID-19 related regulations, etc. having a fallback country that can quickly take on the remaining NHL teams and not hit pause again might be advantageous.

Time remains of the essence and perhaps a Plan B that allots more prep time and a chance to prioritize the countless labour issues would be preferable. Still, I think we’re much more likely to see an 11th hour announcement and a hastily thrown together execution of the restart.