Over the past few weeks, the NHL has been spitballing ideas for how to complete the 2019-20 season and playoffs in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The prevailing idea, it seems, is for the league to break itself down into the four different divisions in order to play an expanded version of the playoffs. This plan would see one city act as a host or “hub” for its division, hosting players, staff, and media and executing games at multiple different venues.
The specifics of how this kind of plan obviously still needs to be hashed out, but, as of right now, it appears that using one city as a host seems to be the ideal plan. According to Elliotte Friedman in this week’s 31 Thoughts column, Vancouver is among one of the three Canadian cities (along with Toronto and Edmonton) with a legitimate chance to be used as a host.
Earlier in the week, British Columbia Premier John Horgan spoke with Gary Bettman, stating an interest for Vancouver and the province in general to be a host for the NHL.
“I believe we’re in a good place to host, that’s why I contacted the commissioner,” Horgan said in a press conference. “The Canucks have been working very co-operatively with my minister; we’ve heard from others around the league that have other ideas about perhaps having all of the games played in British Columbia.
“We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George… Cranbrook has an outstanding facility as well. We have hotel space, so the sky’s really the limit.”
Of course, a lot can change between now and July or August, which is when the NHL would likely be looking at hosting games, but there are plenty of obstacles in the way.
A major obstacle facing Vancouver and the other Canadian cities in the mix is Canada’s 14-day isolation period for anybody who enters the country. This would add an extra two weeks for players to be away from their families before any hypothetical playoff tournament could get started.
British Columbia also currently has a restriction on mass gatherings, which would be another obstacle for executing hockey games. Even without fans in the seats, having the players, coaches, trainers, and everybody needed to put on a hockey game would far exceed the number of people who are currently allowed to be inside together.
What do you think? Is Vancouver an ideal place to host NHL quarantine games this summer?