Tuesday, 23 June 2020

And Then There Were Six

This feels like a business version of The Bachelor as the NHL whittles down the field of ten hub cities to its final two. Honestly, this could have been done in a week, but the NHL has turned this into the Hub City Marathon over the course of what seems like several months. Today, though, we learned that four cities have been axed from the list of ten that were considered finalists as the NHL gets closer to playing games in two lucky cities where COVID-19 isn't decimating the health care system or population. That's a little foreshadowing to tell you that the city of Dallas was one of the cities being considered, but recent health checks in the state of Texas have taken Dallas out of the running.

The original ten cities were the aforementioned Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Minneapolis on the US side of the border while Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton were the cities north of the 49th line of latitude. The NHL made some hard decisions today and reduced the American side of the equation by four as all three Canadian cities survived the first cut.

Gone are Dallas, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Columbus as just Chicago, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas remain. Dallas was a no-brainer to eliminate with the massive outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the state of Texas that we've seen over the last week while Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Columbus were all eliminated by the NHL this week as Las Vegas remains the heavy front-runner to host the NHL Playoffs as one of the two cities with an American zip code.

Still in contention are the Canadian cities which feature Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton. Logically, Toronto would be your best bet of the Canadian cities to allow for an early-late setup for televised games if one of Vancouver, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles is the second city. Toronto also is the home of Rogers Sportsnet who holds a monstrous NHL contract, so if I were a betting man I'd say Toronto might be the second city that finds itself hosting playoff games.

I still believe that holding these games is a mistake after seeing the outbreaks in NHL players in both Tampa and Phoenix with the Tampa Bay Lightning shutting down their facility to prevent further spread of the virus. I'm not sure I'd want to be staying in a hotel that housed either team or the Dallas Stars after the outbreaks in those three states, but the NHL is convinced it knows more than most doctors and epidemiologists when it comes to controlling the environment in which these teams are housed.

In any case, it seems there's a 50/50 chance that a Canadian team will host games, but I'm going to lower that ratio to 40% after watching that ridiculous video that Alberta premier Jason Kenney put on social media yesterday. Edmonton's inclusion in the final six is nice, but that video would completely take them out of the running if I were voting. While there may one day be a cure for COVID-19, there is no known cute for stupidity.

My ideal situation? Let's do the playoffs in Canada in a Hockey Night in Canada format with an early game from Toronto and a late game from Vancouver. It's worked forever in Canada with the timing and the setup, and it would be second nature to the crew at Sportsnet. This is something they do every weekend, so let's make this happen if you're dead-set on it happening, NHL.

Toronto and Vancouver: HBIC's perfect hub cities!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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