The NHL is expected to make Toronto and Edmonton its two central-hub cities to host hockey’s return to action in late July, per multiple reports.
The league and the players’ union could be voting on the matter — along with critical dates and the Collective Bargaining Agreement — as early as Friday or Saturday, according to TSN’s NHL Insider Bob McKenzie.
Toronto, home of the Maple Leafs, has been tabbed as the site for the Eastern Conference’s postseason site for the last few weeks, given its track record of hosting big tournaments and its coronavirus numbers.
The city that recently hosted the 2016 World Cup of Hockey has had just north of 14,000 positive coronavirus cases since the start of the outbreak.
With a population of approximately 2.9 million people, that’s 1 out of every 205 people that have tested positive.
In comparison, a city in the United States with a similar population, Chicago, which has 2.7 million inhabitants, had 52,340 positive coronavirus cases as of Tuesday. That’s 1 in every 51 people.
Edmonton’s emergence as a front-runner as a host site is a pivot from previous reports that tabbed Las Vegas as the Western Conference’s hub home this summer.
But looking at the disparity in the coronavirus numbers, the move was a no-brainer.
The county that Las Vegas is located in, Clark County, has over 15,000 positive coronavirus cases of its 2.267 million residents and is coming down from a recent spike. It’s an overwhelming majority of Nevada’s 18,000-plus cases.
Meanwhile, Alberta — the province which Edmonton is in — has had a reported 8,108 positive cases out of its population of 4.371 million.
It will allow Edmonton to further display its state-of-the-art home of the Oilers, Rogers Place, which opened in 2016.
The Islanders and Rangers, who both made the NHL’s expanded postseason format, would play its best-of-five play-in series against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto.