Report: NHL looking at two central hubs for 2020 return

T-Mobile Arena
A general view of T-Mobile Arena, home of the Vegas Golden Knights. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

While Major League Baseball is preparing to have teams play at their home ballparks once they return from the coronavirus hiatus, the NHL is looking at plan built around central locations. 

On Monday morning, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the NHL returning to play in two hub cities “has been discussed and remains a possibility.”

Bob McKenzie, also of TSN, added that the two-city idea is “generating some buzz in discussions amongst teams,” pivoting from an original four-city return plan.

The plan would see the NHL jump right into the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 24-team format — 12 teams per conference — instead of its traditional 16-team layout. 

It was reported on Sunday that the NHL is making progress toward a 24-team playoff that would allow the league to forgo the final 189 regular-season games left on the schedule.

In the two-arena plan, one venue would be devoted to each conference, but it remains to be seen where the Stanley Cup Final would be housed. 

Host cities have not been deciphered as of yet, but reports in recent weeks have suggested that at least 10 cities put forth bids to host games including Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Las Vegas.

McKenzie mentioned Las Vegas in his report as a prime option because an entire hotel and resort could be devoted to the teams to create one central, safe location to isolate the players and staff in.

The NHL has a board conference call scheduled for Monday.