Though plenty is up in the air right now, it seems the leading plan for the NHL’s return to action involves hosting some kind of divisional tournaments in four different host cities.
The plan to do a regular 16-team playoff was deemed problematic because so many bubble teams would be left out and there wouldn’t be time to finish the regular season to determine who made the playoffs. The 24-team plan, with six teams in four different cities, seems to be the prevailing plan because nobody gets excluded and it would help drive TV revenue.
According to Elliotte Friedman in his 31 Thoughts column, Edmonton, along with Toronto and Vancouver, are the three Canadian cities that have a legitimate chance of being selected as host cities if the NHL returns and the league opts to roll with such a format.
I wrote as a thought experiment a few weeks ago what it would look like if Edmonton were to host the entirety of the playoffs. Edmonton is an ideal host because Rogers Place features two NHL-sized ice sheets and there are multiple hotels within close proximity to the stadium. Keeping the players in quarantine while executing the playoffs is very doable in Edmonton.
We already know that the Oilers have submitted a proposal to be a host city and that the team has been working with local and provincial government officials to make it happen.
We coordinated the call between Premier Jason Kenny and Commissioner Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Daly. All the teams that are interested have now submitted bids. We are ahead of where other jurisdictions are at vis-à-vis health protocols.
We’re in constant communication with government. We have a working framework with the government. We’re going back and forth on it. It lays out the process to get a sign off. It’s definitely a complex process. But Edmonton has so much going for it — world-class facilities, world-leading testing, great collaboration between government and the Oilers Entertainment Group and low COVID-19 numbers. – Oilers spokesperson Tim Shipton
One thing that could ultimately hold Edmonton (or Toronto or Vancouver) back from being a host city is Canada’s 14-day isolation period for anybody who enters the country. It’s already a big ask having players leave their families for an extended period of time and a 14-day quarantine right off the hop would make the process longer.
With that in mind, a hub like Phoenix might be more realistic given the fact Arizona has been lax in opening itself up.