With the announcement that the New York Rangers have qualified for the NHL’s post-season, the only thing that everyone is waiting for is: where will the Blueshirts play these games? On Tuesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman listed the 10 cities currently under consideration to host games: seven in the United States (Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Pittsburgh), and three in Canada (Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver).
The listing by countries is intentional. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly says that in a perfect world, the league’s return-to-play plan would feature one hub city on either side of the U.S.-Canada border. Daly made these comments while appearing on Sportsnet 590 (Canada) The Fan’s Lead Off show. Daly mentioned that the city’s infrastructure as a primary consideration that will impact the safety of all involved.
On this topic, Daly stated that “the arena setup, and hotels around the arena, and secure transportation to and from the hotels to the arena — what does that look like? And is that a place where we can keep the players and the club staff and league staff all safe in a bubble-type environment.”
Since a decision on which two hub cities will be selected is expected to come in about three to four weeks, let’s take a look and see how these sites compare as future hubs cities for the New York Rangers
Las Vegas and Edmonton
Many experts have had these two cities listed as top choices for a while. Both cities easily check off on all the factors that Daly mentioned in his interview. Edmonton has gone out of their way to make arrangements so that the players can have some things to do during their off time, such as setting up secure golf courses and arrange big screens in outdoor areas for movies and video games. Las Vegas, of course, has the capacity to do the same and the NHL would have the city to themselves as it appears that the NBA will be heading to Orlando. However, Edmonton and the other Canadian cities have one issue: Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine.
During his interview, Daly mentioned that it will be difficult for the NHL to select a Canadian city because the 14-day quarantine for the teams traveling in would be kind of a non-starter to be able to play in 2020. But recently Alberta Province Premier Jason Kenney asked the Canadian government to exempt NHL players and personnel from the country’s travel protocol to facilitate Edmonton’s bid to be a hub city in the NHL’s potential return to play. In his letter, Kenney said that the Government of Alberta believes there are effective strategies in place to mitigate any risk for our province if such an exemption was granted.
Both Las Vegas and Edmonton have also had better COVID-19 numbers than many other areas in the two countries.
Nationwide Arena, once the former home of current Ranger Artemi Panarin, would also make a nice destination for the Rangers. Besides being closer, the Rangers have played a few more games each year here versus Las Vegas or Edmonton. Also checking everything in the NHL’s list, the area surrounding Nationwide Arena, called the Arena District could serve as a quarantine type social hub. This area is a mixed-use neighborhood developed by Nationwide Realty Investors featuring restaurants, bars, offices, and residential buildings. It also features a more temperate climate than Las Vegas, as making sure proper ice conditions during summer months may be one drawback for playing in Vegas.
The Wild’s Excel Center would also seem to have everything needed for the safety of the Ranger’s players and staff. Also having a more moderate temperature in the summer, it should be able to maintain it’s ice better than Las Vegas could. The arena is on the same block as the RiverCentre convention facility and other features that can assist the league and teams with maintaining their bubble.
Dallas and Pittsburgh
Both would be nice places and Pittsburgh does have a more familiar feel. Pittsburgh may get a bit of a nod as a place east of the Mississippi River if the NHL does not want to put both hubs out west. It is awfully hot in Dallas in the summer, maintaining proper ice might be an issue.
Toronto and Vancouver
Both cities would seem to be more of a back-up choice if something happens to Edmonton. Both cities would work well, and Toronto could be under consideration as the Eastern hub if the league wants to go east-west on their choices. Toronto would also be a more familiar location for the Rangers. Vancouver has some issues as its provincial health minister says they will not bend rules for sports.
Los Angeles and Chicago
These two cities may have more problems with their cities’ coronavirus pandemic situations than others mentioned in the United States. LA may be a wild-card though as with the Kings not participating in the playoffs, this would truly be a neutral site hub for the playoff rounds. Many teams in the west would not be especially happy about going to Chicago to face the Blackhawks in their home arena, regardless if they are just the #12 seed.