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NHL expected to announce Toronto, Edmonton as hub cities: reports

toronto edmonton hubs

The NHL has seemingly decided on its hub cities for when the league returns to play, according to multiple reports on Wednesday: Toronto for the Eastern Conference and Edmonton for the West.

A formal announcement has not been made, but the reports follow weeks of speculation about which cities the league would resume play in after games were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CBC has not independently confirmed the reports.

According to officials, Toronto Public Health has not been notified of any league decision.

“As of July 1, 2020, Toronto Public Health has not been notified that Toronto has been designated as a hub city for the NHL,” associate medical officer of health Dr. Vinita Dubey said in a statement released Wednesday. 

WATCH | Devin Heroux on the risks involved with Edmonton, Toronto as hub cities:

CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux takes a look at the risks involved with Edmonton and Toronto serving as hub cities for the NHL’s return to play. 2:00

Toronto Mayor John Tory was also not able to provide confirmation, but said during an unrelated news conference Wednesday that he’s got his “fingers crossed” for the prospect of hosting.

CBC News has learned that Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, has expressed support for the selection of Toronto as a hub city, provided the proper public health procedures and protocols are in place.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has been working alongside Toronto Public Health to facilitate a safe return for the NHL, but the ministry says it has not been notified whether Toronto has been chosen as a hub city.

Later Wednesday, Tom McMillan, the assistant director of communications for Alberta Health, indicated that it “is not in a position to comment on if the bid has been successful or not.”

But McMillan did point to an announcement in May by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw regarding the development of a plan that would allow Edmonton to be considered.

“In May, Dr. Hinshaw announced that Alberta Health had developed guidelines for professional sporting tournaments that would allow Edmonton to be considered for a hub city for the NHL playoffs while still protecting Albertans,” McMillan said in an email to CBC. 

“These guidelines were developed to support players, NHL staff, media personnel and Albertans to stay healthy and safe during such an event.

“If Edmonton is chosen, health officials will work with all applicable partners to ensure the guidance is followed to the letter and to protect the public.”

League plans to reopen training camps July 10

Vancouver had been regarded as the Canadian favourite before B.C. health officials reportedly expressed concern about the fallout of a positive coronavirus test. 

Earlier in June, the Canadian federal government agreed to the NHL’s cohort quarantine proposal, which allows incoming players to the country to bypass the mandatory 14-day isolation period.

The league plans to reopen training camps July 10, but has yet to release a schedule for the 24 teams still in the running for the Stanley Cup.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo on expected hub city announcement:

The NHL is expected to announce Toronto and Edmonton as hub cities once the league resumes play, according to multiple reports. 4:26

Part of Toronto’s bid is the number of rinks it has available for the league. Beyond Scotiabank Arena, home of the Maple Leafs, the AHL Marlies’ Coca-Cola Coliseum could also be used, as well as the Leafs’ practice facility that houses four sheets of ice.

Toronto has hosted multi-team hockey tournaments in the recent past, such as the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and has the hotel infrastructure to handle 12 NHL teams.

WATCH | The challenges of choosing a hub city:

While the NHL tries to narrow down the list of hub cities from ten to two, Rob Pizzo looks at the problems they face. 3:00

Edmonton would earn its bid after a hard push from the city, which included Mayor Don Iveson tweeting out a promotional video.

While Ontario is still managing over 100 new cases of COVID-19 per day, Alberta hasn’t reached that mark since May 2. The province is also a world leader in per-capita testing, and could keep players isolated because the downtown home arena Rogers Place is linked by pedway to hotels and other amenities.

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