Bruins

Interesting details why NHL reportedly chose Edmonton as hub city

Interesting details why NHL reportedly chose Edmonton as hub city

It’s pretty much official at this point as countless reports have the NHL settled on Edmonton and Toronto as the two hub cities when teams return to play at the end of the month.

TSN Insider Bob McKenzie revealed on Thursday afternoon that Edmonton will also end up being the site for the conference finals as well as the Stanley Cup Final given how well the city has contained the COVID-19 virus over the last three months.

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Edmonton Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer confirmed that it indeed is looking good for Edmonton and outlined some of the finer points to the Edmonton plan that attracted the NHL once they decided to avoid Las Vegas despite its glamorous appeal.

“Edmonton is in a unique situation. It’s low-population density and the majority of the international travel went through Calgary, so if you compare [Alberta] to the U.S. there’s only four U.S. states that have fewer cases per million [people] than Alberta. And Edmonton only has 13 percent of the cases for the entire [Alberta] province despite the fact that Edmonton has 37 or 38 percent of the population. We only had 15 deaths total [from COVID-19] in the last 15 weeks and just three deaths over the last two months. The caseload has been light.

“That’s a major reason why Edmonton got this [hub city designation]. Make no mistake, the Edmonton Oilers Entertainment Group was really aggressive to get the bid. The province really wanted it. Edmonton has a brand new JW Marriott hotel that’s adjacent to Rogers Place and, if we’re able to push the ball over the goal line here, all 12 teams’ players will stay there. There are a couple of supporting hotels that will house the executives and the rest of that 50-man group as well the television crews that will be in to work it. I would call this more of an Olympic-style hub city bid. That was the key.

"They’ll work out an arrangement with 5-8 restaurants, they’ve got the hotel they want to use and they’re just going to cordon everything off. There’s lot of green space for the players and there’s a golf course five minutes away right in the downtown. The average temperature is 68-76 degrees during the day, so it’s not like the 110 degrees that it would be in Vegas. I get it that Vegas was super-sexy [as an option]. I think Gary [Bettman] wanted Vegas. I think the players wanted Vegas. But it seems that the COVID situation really knocked [Vegas] out. At this stage of the game it really looks like Edmonton and they’ve been working on it for a while.”

TSN Insider Darren Dreger had mentioned Edmonton as the biggest and best option for the NHL when he spoke to NBC Sports Boston about a month ago as well.

“Edmonton is on a full-out campaign. They’ve talked about having a million square feet inside their facility. They’ve got a practice rink there. They can literally put 12 dining areas and separate sanitization stations for all 12 teams inside that building,” said Dreger. “And then they’ve got the ice district and they’ve got the JW Marriott, which is a brand-spanking new, world class hotel. Everybody can be housed in that.

"You want to watch a movie outside on a big screen, or you want to watch some of the other games that are being played in the other hub city? You can do that in the ice district. You can watch multiple games if you’re not playing. They were heavily investigating a private golf course and renting it out, so that on their off days the players could go and play golf as a leisure activity as well.”

At that time, it seemed that Vegas, Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton were the lead candidates with other U.S. locales in the mix as well, but Edmonton became a no-brainer once it turned to an all-Canada setting for the NHL games. It also seems clear that the NHL is going to keep the Eastern Conference teams in Toronto and the Western Conference teams in Edmonton for the first couple of playoff rounds following the qualifying round/round-robin games.

But then it will be the many amenities being offered in Edmonton that are going to create a safe, remote environment for the NHL to pull off a Return to Play when so many areas in North America would not be right for it at this point.

Here's Bruins' first-round playoff scenario entering Sunday vs. Capitals

Here's Bruins' first-round playoff scenario entering Sunday vs. Capitals

The Boston Bruins' potential first-round playoff matchups are laid out for them as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Washington Capitals.

The Montreal Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday, thus eliminating the Pens from playoff contention. That means the B's will either begin their Stanley Cup run against the New York Islanders or the Carolina Hurricanes.

If the Bruins beat the Capitals on Sunday, they'll face the Islanders in the first round. If they lose, they'll face the Hurricanes.


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Carolina comes off three straight convincing wins over the New York Rangers in the Toronto bubble. As for the Isles, they took three out of four from the Florida Panthers.

Either way, the B's will have a tough test in Round 1, and their fate will be determined by their final round-robin matchup on Sunday.

Boston currently is 0-2 in Toronto, falling 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers and then 3-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. In order to gain some momentum heading into the postseason, there's no doubt the Bruins will need to show more of a sense of urgency than they have in the bubble to this point.

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak miss Friday's practice

Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak miss Friday's practice

Bruins players Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Jaroslav Halak were all missing from Friday’s practice in the Toronto bubble while “unfit to participate”, but all are expected to be back for Sunday’s round-robin showdown with the Washington Capitals.

Cassidy called it a “short-term thing” and expected all three players would be ready to practice on Saturday ahead of their final round-robin game this weekend.

“We anticipate [on Saturday] we’ll have our full group, but until we’ll just keep trying to make it work,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Obviously this whole training camp we haven’t had lines together consistently for different reasons. Will it affect us in the postseason? Time will tell.

“I’d like to see our group together to see what it looks like…all together. But until that happens we’re going to fit people in together for practices and games where they can best help us and then go from there.”

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It will be the first time the entire Bruins group will be healthy, ready and available to play and Bruce Cassidy indicated that both Ondrej Kase and defenseman Connor Clifton should get in their first game action of the last two weeks.

Clifton will likely play in place of rookie D-man Jeremy Lauzon in order to get him some game action prior to next week’s playoff games, and Kase will be expected to knock the rust off after being set behind while spending a month in quarantine at the beginning of the NHL’s Return to Play.

“He looks good. He’s making some plays. He’s got some jump,” said Cassidy of Kase in practice this week. “I think the first three days were tough on him for obvious reasons and now he’s been at it for a full week. You can see he’s a little more natural with everything he does. He’s got quick hands.

“My anticipation is he’ll have lots of energy and he’ll fight the puck like a lot of our guys early on in their first game back because of the speed. I anticipate he’ll get some shots because he’s been shot-first in practice and we could use a little more of that. We need him to play. Hopefully he can pick it up quick because he’s missed some time. We have every intention of using him in Game 1 [next week], we just have to see where he’s at [against the Capitals]. Hopefully he’s ready to go.”

With Kase and Clifton expected to play on Sunday, the Bruins will have everybody they expect to use on their roster with at least some game action under their belt and ready to play whoever their opponent ends up being whether it’s the Islanders, Penguins or Hurricanes based on the way things play out this weekend.