Report: Edmonton and Toronto selected as NHL's hub cities

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By WGR 550 SportsRadio

It appears as though the National Hockey League has come to a final decision on the two hub cities for the 24-team Return To Play plan this summer.

TSN hockey insider Bob McKenzie reported early Wednesday morning that barring any last-minute complications, the league will announce Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta as the two NHL hub cities.

Barring any last-minute complications, and we have seen some of those (Vancouver and Las Vegas), the two NHL Hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto. ----

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2020

The league had originally listed 10 cities as potential suitors for the Return To Play plan when the league announced its format for the continuation of the 2019-20 season. It had reportedly come down to Chicago, Edmonton, Las Vegas, and Toronto as the cities still in the running to be a host city for the NHL, while cities like Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver had all either pulled out of the running or were told they were no longer in consideration before Tuesday.

It had been reported nearly three weeks ago that Las Vegas was preparing to be one of the two hub cities, and many had speculated that the city was a favorite landing spot for the NHL. However, with the spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the United States, especially with hotel and casino employees in the city, that appeared to be the final straw for Las Vegas' chances to be picked as a hub city.

It is not known when an official announcement from the league will come down, but it is expected to come along with the announcement of agreements of most issues for Phase 3 and 4 of the Return To Play format, transition rules, as well as an extension of the current collective bargaining agreement.

McKenzie also reports that Toronto would play host to the Eastern Conference teams, while Edmonton will host the Western Conference teams. When it comes time for the Confernce Finals and the Stanley Cup Final to take place, it will reportedly be Edmonton who will host both best-of-seven series.

I’m guessing the rationale for that decision is simply based on public health/safety/numbers. Whatever the reason(s), Edmonton it will be.

— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 2, 2020

Phase 3 of the Return To Play plan is expected to start on Monday, July 13, while the commencement of Phase 4, the official return of play, is expected to start on or around Saturday, Aug. 1.

Stay tuned for the latest on this developing story...