According to multiple media outlets both in the United States and Canada are reporting the NHL East teams including the Tampa Bay Lightning will start their quest for the 2020 Stanley Cup Championship by heading west to Las Vegas. It seems that NHL is looking to play these much anticipated playoffs in only two pod cities instead of the four and geography will have no impact on where the league will play.
One week ago from today the NHL will formally announce the two sites but it looks like Vegas will be one site. As to the other the league wants to see if they can get a site in Canada with Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton still in play.
Chicago, Columbus, Nashville, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Dallas and Pittsburg all still remain in the mix. That said the league remains focused on nailing the second site down this week.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post one of the most reliable sources in all things NHL had this to say in his weekend column.
As the league previously has indicated it would not allow a team to play at home, so the Golden Knights and the Western Conference will be located in the other hub city, which the NHL would like to name as Toronto if Canada drops its 14-day self-quarantine requirement for all individuals entering the country.
So in Vegas, it would be Rangers-Carolina and Islanders-Florida in addition to Pittsburgh-Montreal and Columbus-Toronto in the best-of-five qualifying rounds, and Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia play a round-robin to establish the order of seeding.
The likelihood is that — at least for the qualifying round, if not beyond — Games 1 and 2 and Games 3 and 4 would be played back-to-back with a day between. That is the scheduling format that was in place for the first two rounds from 1980-84 and for the first round from 1980-89.
There were five years, from 1975-79, in which two teams received byes from the preliminary round best-of-three’s. Teams receiving a bye went 9-1 in their quarterfinals matchups — the 1978 Islanders, who went down in Game 7 overtime to Lanny McDonald and the Maple Leafs, the only losers.
Parameters for training camp eligibility have not yet been established, so it is unknown whether the 24 teams included in the tournament would be able to invite players whose contracts begin next season and are thus ineligible to compete this summer.
There is much talk of the 2020-21 season, that would start in December or January so the league could play as much of the year as possible with fans in the stands, being conducted with a conference-only schedule.
Rob Williams writer of Off Sides a Vancouver based NHL outlets reports more about the leaders for the race for the second pod city.
Vancouver and Edmonton appear to be frontrunners as the league’s other hub city location, but only if the Canadian government agrees to make a special arrangement for NHL players, staff, and officials regarding the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule. That’s something that BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has agreed to, at least in the context of playing games in Vancouver. BC Premier John Horgan has also advocated for altering the definition of the rule for the NHL, whose players will be tested regularly and be kept separate from the public.
“Dr. Henry has reviewed the plan and it involves modifications to the quarantine plan that would allow a team to be a family entity or a bubble,” Horgan said on Wednesday. “And so those individuals within that organization would stay together in one hotel. They would travel to Rogers Arena together in private transportation.
“Any testing would be the responsibility of the club. No interaction with the public would take place for the 14-day quarantine period. So it is an amendment to the quarantine, it is not changing it in any meaningful way. It’s only expanding the number of people within the bubble that would allow for NHL teams to come to Vancouver.”
We will all see if the NHL is going West or north of the boarder for another pod city. This will all be clear one week from today and all lighting fans care about is getting the Bolts back on the ice.