LeBrun: NHL wanted hub cities announced already
The wait will continue for an announcement from the NHL on the two hub cities for the league's Return to Play plan.
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie reports the announcement will not come Monday, after initial speculation that the NHL and NHLPA could reach an agreement. He adds its not a guarantee that an announcement will come on Tuesday, either.
The league has narrowed its list down to five cities from the initial list of 10 announced in May, with Chicago, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Toronto remaining as options. Las Vegas has been considered a front-runner throughout the process, though COVID-19 case numbers have continued to rise in Nevada as of late.
"Every relevant consideration will be fairly evaluated before decisions are made and announced," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN's Ryan Rishaug when asked about the rising numbers on Saturday.
McKenzie adds that if Las Vegas is chosen, it will be due in large part to Vegas bid being the best “locked down” or “protected” bubble of the remaining candidates.
The NHL paused its regular season on March 12, one day after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, which began a domino effect that shut down much of the professional sports landscape.
Phase 3 (training camp) is scheduled to begin on July 10, with Phase 4 in hub cities beginning in late July of early August.
McKenzie adds that while negotiations between NHL and NHLPA on protocols/terms for Phase 3, Phase 4 and a CBA extension are not complete, a lot of heavy lifting has been done and the two sides are getting closer. He noted that in order to stay on the tentative schedule for the return to play, a vote on the protocols would likely have to take place this week. The possibility remains that Phase 3 is pushed back from the initial July 10 date, but that would not necessarily push back Phase 4.