It appears that the New York Rangers will be heading west for the playoffs, as The Las Vegas Review-Journal has put out a story saying Vegas will be confirmed as a hub city for the Stanley Cup Playoffs by June 22.
The reports stem from sources who stated that when the NHL and NHLPA met for the first time Friday, the players were told that Las Vegas was the frontrunner to be one of the hubs.
It is also noted that nothing official has come from the NHL and that The NHLPA executive board is expected to meet as early as Monday to discuss hubs.
Regardless of what happens with Canada and their 14-day quarantine rule, Las Vegas appears to be the front runner for a hub city. The league would like to have Toronto be the other hub city, but if Canada does not ease that restriction, the hub will go somewhere else. The NHL would prefer East-West hubs so that they can send the conferences in their opposite directions and not let a team have home-ice advantage. Los Angeles is an option because neither the Kings nor the Ducks are playoff-bound and therefore could host the Western Conference teams.
What can Las Vegas offer as a hub city to the New York Rangers?
The NHL has a list of expectations that they would like to see in a to create a “bubble” for players and staff to be in so they can protect them from COVID-19 as much as possible.
With Las Vegas, it is not exactly as you think, as the players will not be allowed to roam around the Vegas strip. The NHL wants large, luxury hotel properties not only because of logistics, but they want to assure that players that are there for a long time have a somewhat enjoyable experience.
The brand new Park MGM is very close to the Golden Knights’ T-Mobile Arena and has lots of restaurants and ample hotel space. The league could manage all of the surrounding restaurants along the arena’s corridor between Park MGM and potentially NewYork NewYork, and it would be easy to block this area off the area with security checkpoints.
In case you are wondering, the NHL plans to basically temporarily “own” top-quality restaurants outside of the hotels for the entire length of the tournament for players to dine at.
However, it might be possible for the players to enjoy some parts of Las Vegas, as the NHL would like to provide everyone with multiple entertainment options, from excursions to golf courses (tough to do in 100-degree heat during Vegas summers), as well as movie theaters and of course, quality restaurants.
With all of this, the regions COVID-19 would still also have to be relatively stable. The NHL will monitor all of the locations up until the time they need to make an announcement and finalize plans with the respective cities.