The NHL has seemingly decided on its hub cities for when the league returns to play, according to reports from TSN and Sportsnet: Toronto for the Eastern Conference and Edmonton for the West.
A formal announcement has not been made, but the reports follow weeks of speculation about which cities the league would resume play in after games were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The CBC has not independently confirmed the reports.
According to Dr. Vinita Dubey, associate medical officer of health, Toronto Public Health has not been notified of any league decision.
“As of July 1, 2020, Toronto Public Health has not been notified that Toronto has been designated as a hub city for the NHL,” Dubey said in a statement released Wednesday.
Toronto Mayor John Tory was also not able to provide confirmation, but said during an unrelated news conference Wednesday that he’s got his “fingers crossed” for the prospect of hosting.
League plans to reopen training camps July 10
Vancouver had been regarded as the Canadian favourite before B.C. health officials reportedly expressed concern about the fallout of a positive coronavirus test. Earlier in June, the Canadian federal government agreed to the NHL’s cohort quarantine proposal, which allows incoming players to the country to bypass the mandatory 14-day isolation period.
The league plans to reopen training camps July 10, but has yet to release a schedule for the 24 teams still in the running for the Stanley Cup.
Part of Toronto’s bid is the number of rinks it has available for the league. Beyond Scotiabank Arena, home of the Maple Leafs, the AHL Marlies’ Coca-Cola Coliseum could also be used, as well as the Leafs’ practice facility that houses four sheets of ice.
Toronto has hosted multi-team hockey tournaments in the recent past, such as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and has the hotel infrastructure to handle 12 NHL teams.
Edmonton would earn its bid after a hard push from the city, which included Mayor Don Iveson tweeting out a promotional video. While Ontario is still managing over 100 new cases of COVID-19 per day, Alberta hasn’t reached that mark since May 2. The province is also a world leader in per-capita testing, and could keep players isolated because the downtown home arena Rogers Place is linked by pedway to hotels and other amenities.