According to Chris Johnston of Rogers Sportsnet, Las Vegas is no longer guaranteed to be a hub city when the National Hockey League plans to return. Johnston initially reported on June 12 that Las Vegas would be one of the two hub cities the NHL would choose for the restart.
However, in matters related to coronavirus, things have changed. The coronavirus numbers in Nevada have skyrocketed in the last week. Even though Las Vegas is still on the NHL’s shortlist, there is growing tendency that the NHL will choose two Canadian cities because it is significantly safer for players to play in Canada at this time than the United States.
”There is a much better likelihood and even a possibility,” says Johnston of the chances of the NHL choosing Edmonton and Toronto as the two hub cities. ”A lot of this underlies why the NHL wanted to take its time. Las Vegas has been the favorite…but because of some of the things that have gone on in the U.S., two Canadian hubs is a possibility. ”
On June 5, Las Vegas decided to open up 23 casinos. At the time, the decision by many was seen as extremely risky from a health perspective. On June 7, Nevada only had 9600 cases and 438 deaths, and the state was doing better than many other American states. However, in the last 20 days, there have been 6739 cases and 62 deaths. Yes, the state of Nevada is seeing a large spike in coronavirus numbers recently, and as a result, the NHL may have to look elsewhere. On Thursday alone, Nevada had 507 cases, the most coronavirus cases in Nevada for a single day.
As of Friday, all people are now having to wear masks in public in Las Vegas except when they are eating or drinking. So, one could argue that is the majority of bars, restaurants, and casinos, where people are anyways. Las Vegas definitely opened up too soon, and when they did open, they should have made masks mandatory for all people and all the time.
In addition to Las Vegas, Edmonton, and Toronto, the NHL is considering Los Angeles and Chicago. The Kings are out of the restart picture, meaning if the NHL decides southern California, all teams that potentially will play there will not have home-ice advantage.