The NHL will host its 24-team playoff series in two hub cities, with one city hosting the Eastern Conference and the other hosting the Western Conference. The NHL narrowed down its potential list of hub cities from 10 to six — Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Las Vegas, Edmonton, and Vancouver. All six cities are all still in contention to host the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NHL Playoffs Hub Cities Edmonton LA Las Vegas Vancouver Toronto Chicago
The Rogers Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada could host the NHL playoffs if chosen as a hub city. (Image: Sportsnet)

The NHL playoffs tournament will begin on July 30. League officials will make an announcement about the hub cities within the next few business days.

The NHL eliminated Columbus and Minneapolis/St. Paul from hub consideration. On Monday, the league informed the cities they missed the latest cut.

For most of the process, Las Vegas had been front running as a potential hub city. Sin City has all the high-end amenities, hotels, and restaurants that would cater to world-class athletes. Vegas casinos recently reopened for business to mixed reviews. Very few gamblers initially wore masks, which freaked out health officials.

Las Vegas
Los Angeles

At the same time, coronavirus infections are spiking in surrounding states such as Arizona and Southern California. It’s still a coinflip as to whether or not league officials will opt for Vegas’ opulence and luxury over potential health risks posed by infected gamblers.

The Athletic reported that Vancouver will most likely be named as one of the two hub cities. Vancouver, the largest city on Canada’s West Coast has the proper amenities to be a hub city.

Canada recently relaxed regulations to allow European and American hockey players inside the country. Meanwhile, the European Union is strongly considering banning travelers originating from the United States for summer travel. Cases in the USA are spiking in numerous states.

Eastern Hub City: Chicago or Toronto?

Will both NHL hub cities end up on the West Coast? Chicago, the heart of the Midwest, plays in the Western Conference. But Chicago could become the hub city for the Eastern Conference.

Apparently, Toronto and Chicago are leading contenders to become the spot where Eastern Conference teams will battle it out on their side of the playoff bracket.

Toronto could be cool because the largest city north of the border is considered the heart and soul of Canada. After all, Toronto already hosts the Hockey Hall of Fame. Why not reward Toronto as a hub city to host the Eastern Conference playoffs?

If the word on the street about Vancouver is correct, would the NHL suits pick another West Coast city to host the playoffs? Will the impending selection of Vancouver automatically disqualify Los Angeles and Las Vegas?

Then again, who really cares about time zones at this point? Without a paying audience, games don’t have to start at 7 pm sharp. Hockey all-day and night would be a super thrill after missing out on the sport for the last three months. Who wouldn’t love nonstop playoff hockey from noon to midnight?

Stanley Cup Playoffs in Hollywood?

If the NHL passes on Las Vegas as a hub city, would they really consider Los Angeles? The NHL will lack any competition from the LA Lakers and Clippers, with the NBA restarting at Disney’s World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. The Staples Arena in downtown LA currently sits vacant. Why not turn it into a nonstop hockey rink and television studio?

In one sense, the resumption of the NHL is nothing more than a television show. With games played without fans, it’s really a glorified program like “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but less neurosis and more Zambonis.

“Really, the building will serve as a sound stage,” said Thomas Drance from The Athletic. “These games are ‘for broadcast.’ It’s not a live hockey game as we’re used to it — it’s a television show.”

LA is the center of the show biz universe. If the NHL Playoffs are just a money grab for TV advertisers, then why not just send the boys to Tinsel Town and treat them like real stars? No one puts on a better show than Hollywood.

According to an update from the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Vegas Golden Knights are 17/2 odds to win the 2020 Stanley Cup. The Edmonton Oilers are 23/1 odds, the Toronto Maple Leafs are 30/1, and the Vancouver Canucks are 35/1 odds to become the first Canadian team to win the Cup since 1993.