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NHL narrows list of hub city candidates to six

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The National Hockey League has narrowed its list of “hub city” candidates to host the league’s resumption of play to six, according to multiple reports.

Pittsburgh and Dallas are no longer in the running to be part of the league’s adjusted 24-team format to restart competition amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Also eliminated are Columbus and Minneapolis.

The Pittsburgh Penguins, which had led its city’s bid, confirmed it is out of the running.

“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,” said David Morehouse, Penguins president and chief executive. “We thank Commissioner [Gary] Bettman and the NHL for considering us as one of the finalists, which is a reflection of how great of a city Pittsburgh is. We now look forward to training camp and getting back to action.”

That leaves six existing league markets as potential spots to be one of the NHL’s two sites for resuming play: Chicago, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Las Vegas has been widely seen as perhaps the leading candidate, and the market also had been considered earlier this year as a site for the National Basketball Association’s restart. The United States’ sharp uptick in Covid-19 cases in recent days, meanwhile, elevates the chances for one of the three Canadian markets to prevail as well. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week the NHL would be welcomed so long as local health authorities approve the return-to-play provisions. The league also negotiated with Canadian officials an exemption for NHL players and staff from that country’s travel ban and quarantine rules. 

A decision on the hub cities is expected by the end of the week. The league and NHL Players Association have targeted July 10 for teams to open training camps.