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News and notes: Vancouver remains shortlisted for hub city, NHL start date set, player contracts extended and bigger workout groups

Amid what has been a busy news day around the NHL, I’m going to tie a bunch of important news and notes into this article.

Vancouver remains shortlisted

The Vancouver Canucks remain as one of the teams shortlisted for a hub city for NHL games, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported Monday. Toronto, Edmonton and Las Vegas reportedly remain as the other cities.

Vancouver also tweaked its bid within the last 10 days, a source confirmed Monday, and has stayed in constant communication with the league. An alluring aspect of Vancouver’s bid is the depth of high-end hotels plus how tight the bubble can be. The main hotel would be the 500-room JW Marriott Parq, which is 400 yards from the rink. It was the main hotel for the NHL Draft last June.

One neat detail I’m told is that they would have a 30,000 square-foot outdoor space/deck/patio for the players at the hotel that’s connected to a restaurant. There are other hotels and restaurants that are part of the bid but it all sounds rather good. And well, it’s Vancouver in the summer so it’s basically heaven. Remember the players have a say in where this all ends up.

24-team tournament kicking off July 30th

The New York Posts’ Larry Brooks has reported that the league’s 24-team tournament will begin on July 30th. Teams will conduct a two-week training camp in their respective cities before reporting to their respective hub cities on July 23rd and 24th. From there, teams will play one exhibition game before qualifying rounds take place.

ESPN has reported that the league knew it would be inevitable that there may be an outbreak during the second phase of their return-to-play plan that has gone on since June 8th. In phases three and four, more restrictions will reportedly be in place in “bubble environments” making outbreaks more unlikely. Negotiations are reportedly still ongoing as to what those phases will look like.

A Western Conference player reportedly told The Athletic “guys are not happy. This is why we better have a full player vote and not just an executive board vote. But I’m not convinced (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) is going to allow that because he knows there’s so many of us on the fence. That’s why I think the league was trying to be hush-hush on these positive tests. In my opinion, no way we play.”

Extension of player contracts

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Monday that all expiring player contracts and work permits have been extended until Oct. 31 after the NHL and NHLPA agreed upon it.  This means all players will be eligible to play through the league’s 24-team play-in format as the typical league year runs from July 1 to June 30.

It’s a hint that NHL Free Agency may start up sometime in early November and maybe as soon as November 1st given how the league schedule has operated in the past.

Here’s a list of the players on expiring contracts in the Canucks organization:

RFA’s: Jake Virtanen, Tyler Motte, Adam Gaudette, Zack MacEwen, Troy Stetcher, David Pope, Jake Kielly, Nikolay Goldonbin (who just signed in the KHL), Jalen Chatfield, Reid Boucher, Francis Perron, Justin Bailey, Marc Michaelis, Guillaume Brisebois, and Ashton Sautner.

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UFA’s: Tyler Toffoli, Josh Leivo, Chris Tanev, Oscar Fantenberg, Jacob Markstrom, Louis Domingue, Tyler Graovac, and Richard Bachman.

Practice groups to be expanded

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Monday that effective Tuesday, the league will allow Phase 2 skating groups to include up to 12 players. Small group workouts have been ongoing since June 8th and the updated numbers is reportedly a part of the second phase of the league’s return-to-play plan.

Training camps are scheduled to begin on July 10th.

On Twitter: @zjlaing