Six cities remain in the hunt as potential hub locations for when the NHL returns to play. As things stand right now, Vegas and either Vancouver or Edmonton are the frontrunners, per The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. Toronto, Chicago, and Los Angeles remain outside contenders – but they are still very much in the hunt. Of course, Vegas, Vancouver, and Edmonton are all in the Western Conference, meaning one of the Golden Knights, Canucks, or Oilers would play their games at home – should LeBrun’s hunch prove correct. The NHL isn’t overly concerned, per LeBrun, because without fans present, the games would still qualify as technically neutrally located, even though whichever team does stay home would enjoy a certain amount of comfort in their home building. Finding the best, safest fit to house 12 teams at a time is the priority for now, over maintaining a perfect degree of parity. Let’s check in on the other tidbits of news that have eeked out over the last few hours concerning the NHL’s return to play…
- Phase 2 takes another step forward tomorrow, allowing for up to 12 skaters to share the ice at a time during workouts, tweets Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Only six skaters had been allowed at a time up until now. A successful expansion could prove a crucial development given the recent rash of COVID-19 cases popping up across the sports landscape.
- We also now know – thanks to NHL deputy commissioner Billy Daly – that each of the 24 participating teams will play one or two exhibition games prior to the round-robin and play-in phases of the NHL postseason, per Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer. That’s not a ton of ice time to ready the troops, but with such a small window of viability, it makes sense to limit player exposure prior to any games of consequence.
- In a more logistical matter, the NHL and Players’ Association have agreed to extend contracts and visas for players whose contracts were going to expire on June 30th, tweets CapFriendly. That’s not to indicate a more comprehensive agreement between the two sides, as will be required before the NHL officially returns to play. The matter of expiring contracts appears to have been agreed upon as a solitary issue.
- Teams will have 30 players available for July 10 training camps, with playoff rosters trimmed to 28, per Ben Kuzma of Postmedia Sports. For camp and the playoffs, teams will be granted an unlimited number of goalies. Being as only 6 members of each team have been allowed to share the ice at a time through today, the scope of the NHL’s undertaking will clearly require heavy-lifting from logistics and operations departments.