NHL Reportedly Shuns Las Vegas as Toronto, Edmonton Tabbed as Hub Cities

Posted on: July 3, 2020, 11:44h. 

Last updated on: July 6, 2020, 12:28h.

While there are still some issues left to be resolved between the NHL and its players’ union, it appears all signs are still pointing toward resuming play later this month. Unfortunately, those same reports have Las Vegas on the outside looking in.

NHL Las Vegas
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas appears to be eliminated from consideration as an NHL hub site when play resumes later this month. (Image: NHL.com)

Earlier this week, TSN hockey reporter Bob McKenzie revealed the league selected Toronto and Edmonton for its two hubs.

Under the plan, 24 teams would travel to a hub — 12 to each — and resume play. Those teams are divided equally by conference. It not known what conference teams would go where. But Toronto, home to the Maple Leafs, is an Eastern Conference city. The Edmonton Oilers play in the Western Conference.

The bottom eight teams would be paired off against each other and play in a best-of-five series to determine the final four teams to make the Stanley Cup playoffs. The top four teams would play each other in a Round-robin series to determine the seeding order. From there, the playoffs would start in their usual best-of-seven format.

Once the playoffs get down to the conference finals, all games reportedly would take place in Edmonton, including the Stanley Cup Final. All games, for now, would not be played in front of fans.

COVID-19 Spikes Vegas Hub Hopes

When the NHL announced its plan to resume play in May, it listed 10 cities as candidates for hubs, where the players would stay in isolated hotels and travel together to rinks for practices and games.

Las Vegas was on the list, and it seemed that from then on it was a favorite to become a hub. Not only had the city quickly embraced the sport since the Golden Knights started play two seasons ago, the city seemingly had all the hotel rooms the league would need thanks to the Las Vegas Strip resorts.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal even reported that MGM Resorts International, which co-owns T-Mobile Arena where the Golden Knights play, was holding off on reopening some resorts to accommodate the league.

So, what happened?

According to information from the Southern Nevada Health District, Clark County – home to Las Vegas – had a seven-day rolling average of about 316 new COVID-19 cases on June 21. From June 22-27, a six-day span, the county recorded 4,047 new cases. That sent the seven-day rolling average to more than 605 cases reported daily.

Suddenly, the cases spiked in Vegas,” McKenzie said on TSN.com. “There were public health concerns in Las Vegas. Vegas was out, Edmonton was back in.”

Those high numbers continued into this week, with the district reporting 848 new cases in the Vegas area on Friday.

In an email responding to questions from Casino.org, an MGM Resorts spokesperson said they were not aware of the NHL’s plans and referred questions to the league.

All Contingent on COVID

While the league and players appear ready to give their final approvals on moving forward, it is still contingent on keeping players healthy.

A look at the top teams favored to win the Stanley Cup and their current odds at various sportsbooks and sports betting applications.

DraftKings: Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning +650, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights +800
FanDuel: Boston, Tampa Bay +600, Colorado +800, Vegas +850
PointsBet: Tampa Bay +600, Boston +625, Colorado +825, Vegas +850
William Hill: Boston +550, Vegas +600, Tampa Bay +650, Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues +800
Caesars: Tampa Bay +550, Boston, Vegas +600, Colorado +800
BetRivers: Boston, Tampa Bay +650, Colorado, Vegas +800
Circa Sports: Boston +595, Vegas, Colorado +745, Tampa Bay +785

On Friday, the St. Louis Blues, the defending Stanley Cup champions, canceled practice after multiple players tested positive for the virus, according to The Athletic.

That news comes on the heels of news that three players from the Tampa Bay Lightning, a favorite to win the Cup this year, tested positive two weeks ago. In addition, the league has reported that 26 players have tested positive. That includes 15 who began taking part in team activities in June.

While teams are currently holding small group practices and workouts, they are expected to begin opening training camps by next Friday.

It remains to be seen what would happen if an outbreak hit a team or teams during training camps or when play resumes.