NHL announces plans to return to play; could Edmonton play host?

Written By Guest User, Posted on May 27, 2020

The NHL is back, baby! 

Well, not quite yet, but the initial plans for the return to play and the playoff structure were announced today. 

The league is looking to open facilities for small group workouts as early as next week, with three-week training camps set to get underway in July. 

On Friday, the NHL Player Association voted 29-2 in favour of this new plan announced today. Only Tampa and Carolina voted against. 

The plan announced on Tuesday featured the top 4 teams in each conference playing three round-robin interconference games to help them warm-up for the first round of the playoffs. 

Teams 5-12 in each conference will face each other in a best of five “qualifying round” to determine who will make it into the first round of the playoffs. 

The match-ups are as follows: 

Eastern Conference

• 5) Pittsburgh vs. 12) Montreal

• 6) Carolina vs. 11) Rangers

• 7) Islanders vs. 10) Florida

• 8) Toronto vs. 9) Columbus

Western Conference

• 5) Edmonton vs. 12) Chicago

• 6) Nashville vs. 11) Arizona

• 7) Vancouver vs. 10) Minnesota

• 8) Calgary vs. 9) Winnipeg

Given the flexible circumstances surrounding the coronavirus lockdown and the various rules different countries have regarding their borders, the NHL has not set any firm dates as to when the games will be played. The best-case scenario at this point is that the first games will take place in late July or early August. 

The big question is, where will the games be held? At this point, all we know is that they will be held in two hub cities, one in the East and the other in the West. So far, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver have all been mentioned as cities under consideration by the league. 

“We will not set dates, choose sites or begin to play until we know it is appropriate and prudent and are approved to do,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“We believe we had constructed an overall plan that includes all teams that as a practical matter might have had a chance of qualifying for the playoffs when the season was paused and this plan will produce a worthy Stanley Cup champion who will have run the post-season gauntlet that is unique to the NHL.”

Jon Dziadyk, an Edmonton city councillor, told TNT that Edmonton would make a great host city for the Western conference games. 

“I think it could be a great way to promote our city. The more we can attract business here during these tough times, the better for everyone. The city already invested a lot of money into the new arena district, and so I hope that this can be achieved without more tax dollars being spent.” 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also voiced his support for Edmonton, calling it the “right choice” given the city’s capacity levels and low COVID-19 rates. 

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