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Photo Credit: LARRY WONG / Postmedia

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson throws support behind Oilers bid to host NHL games

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson is throwing his support behind the Oilers bid to host hockey games as an NHL hub city.

In a tweet Tuesday afternoon, Iveson said he was “thrilled to lend my support for the #Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) bid to be a host/hub city.”

Attached to the tweet, Iveson included a letter addressed to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

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“As Edmonton’s number-one priority is the health and safety of its residents, we recognize that the NHL has placed health and safety as a top priority for the return of the hockey season,” wrote Iveson. “And we understand that OEG has been working closely with our provincial government on a detailed health framework and protocol that prescribe conditions under which games hosted by Edmonton would take place.

“OEG and the City of Edmonton are exploring a bid because we view Edmonton, with its colourful hockey history, as an ideal location to host the balance of the NHL’s 2019-20 season.”

Citing Alberta as a world leader in per-capita testing numbers, Iveson added that Edmonton’s low COVID-19 infection numbers as reasons why the city would be a good fit.

Iveson went on to say how the Ice District would be a great host.

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“You may recall visiting Rogers Place, the centrepiece of the Ice District, in the heart of downtown Edmonton. Ice District’s facilities and proximity to downtown hotels minimize the need for participants’ movement between the arena and their accommodations,” he wrote. “In addition, the City of Edmonton is working closely with OEG on an agreement to use our high-quality civic recreational facilities, currently closed to Edmontonians during the pandemic, where NHL teams could practice and train safely while in Edmonton.”

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The NHL is inching closer and closer to what is believed to be a 24-team playoff format. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on the weekend that the format has “gained some traction” from the league’s return to play committee, a group of NHL and NHLPA reps.

On Twitter: @zjlaing