Reports: Edmonton, Toronto more likely NHL hub city options than Vancouver

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Multiple reports indicate that Vancouver is becoming a less likely hub city option for the NHL. Edmonton and Toronto now have better odds if the NHL opts to go with at least one Canadian hub city, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In an ideal world, Vancouver would be close to an ideal choice. British Columbia ranks as one of the larger areas that’s been least affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On face value, that makes Vancouver attractive. But the very caution that likely helped Vancouver/British Columbia limit the COVID-19 might make it a less desirable hub city option for the NHL.

LeBrun reports that:

  • The NHL is holding “more detailed conversations” with Edmonton and Toronto regarding their respective bids.
  • Chicago and Los Angeles are on “standby” if a Canadian hub city cannot fit the bill for the NHL.

It also sounds like Las Vegas remains a frontrunner to be one of the hub options for the NHL.

Let’s dig into why Vancouver reportedly experienced this setback.

Why NHL is reportedly less likely to go with Vancouver as a hub city

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman explained the “snag” for Vancouver as an NHL hub city on Wednesday. Friedman and Iain MacIntyre report that the stumbling block is over contingency plans if a player or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 within the hopeful “bubble” setup.

Global News BC’s Richard Zussman notes that Edmonton or Toronto might be more likely to give the NHL what they “want.” Basically, it would be easier to roll out a “show must go on” plan …

Vancouver briefly climbed the ranks because it was willing to entertain the idea of a modified bubble. Dr. Bonnie Henry explained as much in a June 10 letter.

“I am now comfortable indicating my support for this initiative as long as a very strict modified team quarantine and testing protocol as outlined in the plans is follows,” Dr. Henry wrote, via Zussman.

At the moment, it sounds like the NHL wouldn’t meet the right protocols if someone tests positive.

As you likely know, the Lightning experienced a COVID-19 outbreak last week. They closed their training facilities, but then opened things back up on Wednesday (five days later).

That sure seemed like a quick turnaround, and some host cities might be more comfortable with that approach than others. It’s possible a city’s approach could be pivotal:

This point has been hammered more than once, but a small window of time compresses these decisions.

Reports indicate that the NHL wants to make a hub city choice soon; some wondered if a call might even come this week. Other parts of the timeline remain vague, but the hope is to begin formal training camps (Phase 3) around July 10.

Making 12 teams apiece in two NHL hub city setups work sounds like a monumental challenge. It would be great if safety was the only consideration. Expediency and control appear to be important, too, and thus we’re seeing many twists and turns.

Positive tests for COVID-19, hub city issues, and more NHL return stories:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.