Reports indicate that the New York Islanders will head to Vegas in return to play plan.
Day by day, more and more details are agreed upon between the NHL and NHLPA on the return to play plan for 2019-20. Just this week, the 24 teams participating in the play-in/playoff like the New York Islanders were told that they could open training camps as of July 10 as part of Phase 3.
There is still no decision on how long training camps are to last. But once camp is over, all 24 teams will then travel to their designated hub city to play two exhibitions games before Phase 4, the official re-start of the 2019-20 season.
Late on Saturday, reports emerged that Vegas was likely going to be one of the two hub cities to host NHL games for the 2019-20 season. It is understood that none of the 24 teams will play in their home city, meaning Vegas would then be the Eastern Conference hub wrote Newsday’s, Andrew Gross.
Another Step Forward
It’s hard not to juxtapose what’s going on with the NHL versus what is happening with the MLB. While the NHL is making steady progress towards re-opening their season, Major League Baseball and its player union can’t seem to come to any agreement.
It feels like for the first time in a long time that the NHL and NHLPA are in relative lock-step or are at least able to constructively come to an agreement that works for both parties. You know, negotiate like adults.
I’m sure there are still a number of players that are rightfully warry of assembling to play hockey games while there is still a world-wide pandemic going on. The state of Nevada where the Eastern Conference teams are likely to play has seen an increased number of cases since re-opening portions of their economy in late May, though those numbers have started to decrease over the last few days.
The report that Vegas will likely be a hub city confirms what has been speculated for some time now. Now we just have to wait for June 22 for the official announcement on what city will be the second hub city.
A decision on the second hub city still needs to be sorted out. Ideally, the league wants an East-coast market and one in Canada. Toronto is the likely option here.
We know that Toronto has already been asked about the possibility of being a hub city by the NHL. Provincially, Ontario has seen seven straight days with fewer than 300 new cases as they steadily re-open their economy and allow for great social interactions. Recently, the Ontario government allowed Ontarians to create “social bubbles” of up to ten people.
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I know the league has reached out to Vancouver and to Edmonton, but with both being in the West it seems unlikely that the NHL picks either of the two although both have far fewer active cases than Toronto does at the moment.