According to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, the Edmonton Oilers have officially submitted a proposal to the NHL to become a hub city for the league provided that they are able to safely resume play with more details expected to come as early as this week. Undoubtedly, there are still plenty of obstacles to clear before this gets anywhere close to becoming a reality, but the franchise has started the process and is working with local officials to determine whether it’s possible.
Over the past few weeks, we’d heard a lot about how Edmonton could be in the running to be a host city for the Pacific Division provided that the NHL can get going again, and it appears that the organization is taking steps towards that goal. The NHL has reportedly set forth guidelines regarding cities that could be in the running to be a hub for their respective division, and according to Ryan Rishaug, the process from the Oilers’ perspective is “full steam ahead” and “looking fairly optimistic.”
One major hurdle that will obviously have to be cleared is the safety of not only the participating players and staff but also the public at large, and the league wants local health authorities to be fully involved in whether or not that would be possible. In the video, Rishaug confirms that the Oilers have indeed reached out to Alberta Health and are working closely with health officials to see if Edmonton could be in a spot to safely bring in hundreds of players and accompanying staff to finish off the 2019-20 season. With Alberta Health seemingly open to working with the organization on their bid, both the franchise and health officials have plans for further discussions as early as this week to see if this can be done safely.
Despite the Oilers getting this process started and working with local health authorities, there are obviously many concerns that will have to be sorted out, including the ability to test players and staff regularly to ensure the health and safety of all participants. But as Rishaug aptly mentions in the video, there are still plenty of people in the general public that need tests but are unable to get them, and the last thing the NHL wants to do is prioritize its players over anyone else. Sure, the league wants to finish its season but that will never happen if it means jeopardizing the cities in which it would play or deny citizens from the health care they made need.
From testing players to general logistics to scheduling to supplies and everything in between, there is still plenty of work to do before the NHL will be able to get back on the ice, but one thing is for sure, the league and its teams are doing whatever they can to try and make it happen. Whether or not that’s possible is another question entirely. As always, we wait.