Las Vegas Likely to Serve as an NHL Playoff Hub, Reports Say Announcement Coming
Posted on: June 12, 2020, 11:59h.
Last updated on: June 13, 2020, 07:41h.
It appears the NHL has found one of the hub cities it will use to resume play.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Friday that MGM Resorts International is keeping some of its properties free for the professional hockey league. The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights play their games at T-Mobile Arena, which the gaming company co-owns.
The likely MGM properties in play for the NHL are the Vdara, Delano, and the Mirage. Since the NHL wants non-smoking, non-gaming venues, that would likely make the Vdara and Delano the top choices, the Review-Journal reported.
Other entities say Vegas is a shoo-in for one of the two cities the league will select. Sportsnet.ca reported Friday the league will likely make that announcement in less than 10 days.
While some teams have already started voluntary workouts, the league and players union announced Thursday that formal training camps won’t start until July 10. While the joint statement did not give a date for when play would resume, many expect games to start late next month.
Under the plan approved by both the teams and players, 24 teams will head to two hub cities. The 12 Western Conference teams will head to one hub, with the Eastern Conference teams going to the other. The bottom eight teams in each conference will be paired off in a best-of-five-game series to determine the final four playoff teams, while the top four squads will play each other in a round-robin format to determine the order of the top seeds.
From there, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin in the hubs, with each round in the traditional best-of-seven format.
Home-Ice Advantage? Probably Not
When the league announced its plan to resume play, it revealed a list of 10 cities under consideration to be a hub. Besides Vegas, the other cities vying to host teams include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Besides ample hotel rooms, the league is also looking for multiple places to play games, since there could be three or more games played in each city every day, at least when play first resumes. In Vegas, that would mean the Golden Knights practice arena would likely be used as well.
If Vegas ends up getting picked, it’s not a guarantee that the Golden Knights will end up playing at home. The NHL may select two western cities as hubs.
We’re not hung up on east‑west,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said last month when announcing the plan to resume play. “For TV scheduling, it may be better if we’re in different time zones. But we’re going to go to the places that we think are the safest and make the most sense medically at the time.”
And even if the NHL houses the Western Conference teams in Sin City, it won’t give the Golden Knights that much home-ice advantage. No fans will be allowed at the games.
In addition, all teams will have to stay at the hub hotels in an effort to keep players from catching the coronavirus that caused the league – and every other active major US sport – to stop play in mid-March.
“If a team happens to be in its own market, the players, I don’t think, should be planning on going home,” Bettman said. “They’ll be staying in the same conditions that everybody else is.”
Wide-Open Race for the Cup
Unlike the NBA, which is considered a three-team race for the championship, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are considered a wide-open affair. Honestly, that could have been said regardless of circumstances. Last year, favorite Tampa Bay bowed out in a four-game first-round sweep. If a goalie gets hot, he can lead a lower-seeded team to a deep run in the playoffs.
Oddsmakers have pretty much identified seven teams that they believe are the likeliest Cup contenders. Here’s a list of where the best odds can be found on each team:
Boston Bruins – +650 (DraftKings)
Tampa Bay Lightning – +650 (DraftKings, William Hill)
Vegas Golden Knights – +850 (FanDuel, BetMGM)
Colorado Avalanche – +850 (William Hill)
St. Louis Blues – +1100 (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM)
Washington Capitals – +1100 (Caesars)
Philadelphia Flyers – +1200 (William Hill)