With the NHL and NHLPA inching closer and closer to setting in stone a 24-team playoff format, B.C. Premier John Horgan has pitched using Victoria as a host city.
According to the Times Colonist, Horgan spoke with league commissioner Gary Bettman where he suggested the capital of the province, along with other B.C. cities, as potential host sites.
“We’ve heard from others around the league that have other ideas about, perhaps, having all of the games played in British Columbia,” Horgan said in a news conference in Victoria on Wednesday. “We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George. In the Kootenays, Cranbrook has an outstanding facility, as well. We have hotel space. So the sky’s really the limit. If we can make it work it would be great for B.C. and it would be great for the NHL.”
“Mr. Bettman recognizes that British Columbia has had a pretty positive response in terms of flattening the curve,” Horgan said.
“Mr. Bettman also knows this is a hockey-crazy province. Of course, the NHL is concerned about players and the communities that they operate in. I believe we’re in a good place to host. That’s why I contacted the commissioner.”
The WHL’s Victoria Royals play out of the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, which is currently being used as an emergency pandemic homeless shelter through the end of June.
The city of Victoria is believed to have put in an independent bid to host hockey games citing “the low number of COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island, the made-for-TV arena [Memorial Centre], the number of top-end hotels for the NHL players and spectacular downtown TV visuals,” the Times Colonist reported.
Bettman has reportedly announced the league wouldn’t play in non-NHL venues like Victoria, but the Times Colonist reported “people are now wondering if Horgan’s bold new initiative changes Bettman’s outlook.”
It’s certainly an interesting question to be asked as the league continues to examine their options.
On Twitter: @zjlaing