Could Edmonton be one of the NHL’s hub cities should the league return this summer? The organization believes that to be the case. In a recent article in the Edmonton Sun, the club’s case officially went public.
“We’ve been working diligently with the NHL, the Government of Alberta and the City of Edmonton on a host bid,” Oilers senior vice-president of communications Tim Shipton said. “We’ve been sharing information on why we believe Edmonton should be right at the top of the list of any NHL city to host the season.”
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson threw his support behind the bid on Wednesday.
“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,” the letter read.
“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.”
The original thought was that the NHL would go to four hub cities to finish the regular season. Each hub would host one of the league’s divisions. Recent speculation has the league cutting that number in half, going to just two hub cities. In addition, the regular season would be over and a 24-team playoff would take place.
In that format, the top four teams in each conference would get a bye into the field of 16. The Oilers, fifth by points percentage in the west, would play the 12th seeded Chicago Blackhawks in a best-of-five play-in series.
Edmonton’s bid could run into issues. Vegas has been rumored to be a preferred destination for the league. Most insiders, including Pierre LeBrun, have called Vegas a likely hub site.
The Vegas fire had gas poured on it on Wednesday night. Word began to spread that the NBA, which was also targeting Vegas, is closing in on Orlando/Disney World as the hub for its season restart.
If the NHL goes to a two hub format, Vegas and Columbus are rumored to be the two front runners as of this moment.
Regardless, Edmonton will be ready if their bid is accepted. They believe the brand new Ice District is perfect to host the event.
“They didn’t think about a global pandemic when they designed it, but it’s definitely a plus,” Shipton continued. “Two NHL sheets of ice and over a million square feet in Rogers Place. We can dedicate space to all 12 teams.
“And for hotel space, we have the JW Marriott, which is attached, and adjacent hotels like the Delta and Sutton Place. We would be able to create a world-class, NHL-calibre quarantine space that is all connected.”
The plan in Edmonton would also see three games a day at Rogers Place, and teams would also practice at the adjacent community rink inside the arena.