With Phase 3 expected to continue despite recent setbacks, the NHL sent out a directive to teams Friday, following its general manager meetings in which it outlined that the Stanley Cup tournament qualifying rounds will begin on July 30 in hub cities that are expected to be chosen within a week, according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.
The dates have been agreed upon in negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA, but still must be officially agreed upon with included protocols for health and safety and a potential extension of the CBA.
That adds another date to the NHL calendar as the league had already announced that training camp would begin on July 10 and is expected to last two weeks. Teams are then expected to travel to their respective hub city on July 23 or 24 and play in one exhibition match before going into the best-of-five qualifying round or top-four seeding round-robin matchups.
Brooks also notes that the current plan would have NHL teams having 30 skaters on their roster with an unlimited number of goalies.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the NHL has now officially narrowed its list of hub cities down to six from their original 10 and includes at least three Canadian cities, including Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto with Vegas being one of the other cities on the list. LeBrun adds that he believes that Vancouver and Edmonton are ahead of Toronto and there is a likelihood that both hub cities could reside on the West Coast. Vegas remains one of the leading candidates due to its large hotel space.
LeBrun confirms that the league expects to make a decision on hub cities by the end of this week. The decision does need to come quickly as the league then must negotiate with each city before things can truly be official.