Vancouver out as NHL mulls hub cities for restart


Los Angeles (AFP)

Vancouver is out of the running to host NHL games when the league returns from its coronavirus shutdown, the club said Thursday.

The announcement means the pool of potential cities to be designated one of two "hub" sites when play resumes in late July or early August has shrunk to five with Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Edmonton and Toronto still in the hunt.

"Although Vancouver won't be a hub city, we are still excited to see hockey start up again," the team said in a statement.

John Horgan, premier of British Columbia, tweeted that he would cheer for the Canucks when play resumes, but said public health concerns took priority.

"I'm disappointed the NHL playoffs won't be coming to Vancouver, but we will not bend the rules on public health guidelines and risk the progress we’ve made," he said. "Protecting the health and safety of people in BC is our number one priority."

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-robin seeding event.

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