It appears that Canadians will receive a two-part gift on their country’s national holiday.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on the morning of Canada Day that the NHL, barring any unforeseen setbacks, will announce that Toronto and Edmonton will be named as the league’s hub cities, splitting host duties for the resumption of play this summer.
For its infrastructure and amenities, Las Vegas was believed to be the distant front-runner for weeks throughout the vetting process for host locations, but it seems as though the rise in cases in the region — and across the Unites States as a whole — has spooked the league enough to move all teams, players and staff over the border for the mid-summer restart.
Full credit goes to the NHL for being patient with the decision and eventually settling on two of the safest possible options when hoping to resume its season amid a global pandemic. And while not Las Vegas from an entertainment perspective, Toronto and Edmonton are worthy selections for the task at hand — and this goes beyond the fact the two regions are making significant strides in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Toronto is a proven host region, having seamlessly staged world junior tournaments and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey at the Air Canada Centre (or now, Scotiabank Arena), while Edmonton basically has a bubble built already, only recently unveiling the Oilers’ new state-of-the-art home at Rogers Place — an arena connected to a five-star hotel and practice facility in addition to other important amenities.
It’s believed that Vancouver, Chicago and Los Angeles were also “finalists.” In Vancouver’s case, it’s believed that health officials in British Columbia were in serious negotiations with the NHL, but the province was ultimately eliminated from consideration when refusing to agree to all conditions laid out by the league.
McKenzie reiterated in his reporting that nothing has been finalized in what has been an incredibly fluid situation, but also that the NHL and NHLPA are inching closer to what should be considered an even more significant agreement: an extension on the collective bargaining agreement.
Written into the tentative pact, McKenzie’s colleague, Pierre LeBrun, reports the NHL has approved Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026, pending negotiations with the IOC.
For many Canadians, there is no better way to celebrate a national holiday than to mock up a roster around Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon — three superstars that may finally have a chance to represent their country on the same team.
In addition to the news involving the hub cities, final details for Phases 3 and 4, and an extension on the CBA, McKenzie reports that NHL teams will pay out all signing bonuses as scheduled, meaning over $300 million dollars has been collectively paid out by ownership.
Busy, but exciting, day for hockey — especially north of the border.
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