Pittsburgh, Dallas out as NHL cuts restart hub hopefuls


New York (AFP)

Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are reportedly the remaining cities contending to be two NHL hubs for the league's restart plan from a coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

ESPN, The Athletic and Canada's Sports Network reported Tuesday that the league has trimmed hopefuls down to three US and three Canadian markets, dropping US cities Dallas and Pittsburgh on Tuesday after earlier dumping Columbus and St. Paul.

"We know Pittsburgh would have been a great host city because of our fans and the support we received from the local business community, unions and our political leaders," Pittsburgh Penguins president David Morehouse said.

Dallas did not announce its status but the Dallas Morning News and others cited unnamed sources in saying Texas, where COVID-19 is spiking, would not be a host hub.

Canada's government said last week it would allow NHL players to quarantine in a bubble atmosphere and avoid the 14-day isolation required of others entering the nation. That could give Canadian markets the edge.

Las Vegas had been a popular bubble contender with the NBA, which selected Orlando, and NHL, which would have hotel and entertainment facilities adjacent to the home arena of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Chicago and Los Angeles both have more than 75,000 conformed COVID-19 cases, the most of the six remaining contenders.

The NHL plans to return with 24 of its 31 clubs resuming play, 12 in an Eastern Conference hub and 12 in a Western Conference hub. The bottom eight clubs will meet in best-of-five qualifying series while the top four clubs play a round-roin seeding event.

The last eight in the East and West would then launch four best-of-seven playoff rounds to determine a Stanley Cup champion in the usual fashion, with one hub or the other hosting the entire championship series.