As was believed to be the case for a while, the NHL has decided officially to eliminate Pittsburgh from being one of the NHL’s hub cities. The Penguins announced it today:
The @NHL has informed the Penguins that Pittsburgh will not be a hub city for the league’s Return to Play plan.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 23, 2020
The Penguins submitted an aggressive proposal, with tremendous support from UPMC, PPG, and local business/political/union leaders.
Details: https://t.co/qJaPCAWJzN pic.twitter.com/g4HDD6j7fy
Commissioner Gary Bettman announced several weeks ago that Pittsburgh was one of 10 finalists. Two hub cities will be selected.
“We know Pittsburgh would have been a great host city because of our fans and the support we received from the local business community, unions and our political leaders. We thank Commissioner Bettman and the NHL for considering us as one of the finalists, which is a reflection on how great of a city Pittsburgh truly is,” said Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse. “We now look forward to training camp and getting back to game action.”
Minneapolis and Columbus have also been eliminated. The Athletic’s Pierre Lebrun dished some information yesterday about the six finalists:
...my understanding is that Vegas along with the three Canadian bids in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto figure prominently. Los Angeles also keeps pushing and Chicago is confirmed to be still in the running, sources said Monday.
Las Vegas has been long-presumed to be a front-runner for one hub, while lately the Canadian cities have seemed to push to the front of the list as well.
At this point, it could be two western teams:
..a source over the weekend said the NHL bubble plans to be very tight in Phase 4 during the actual tournament and that the league at this point isn’t overly concerned and still has Vegas as a strong option.
Now this is just me handicapping things as of Monday, but I feel as of right now, it looks like either Vegas with Vancouver or Vegas with Edmonton, with Toronto just on the outside and still perhaps convincing the league and players before this is all over.
It will be interesting to see how the league works the time zones, there should only be a couple games per day per hub, so even if teams are located in the west they can still be playing local time 1 or 4 PM starts to match up with 4 PM or 7 PM EST time starts.
If all goes as planned — and the IF is a big one at this point — NHL teams will be moving into Phase 3 (training camp) on July 10th, two weeks from Friday. They will then train in their local cities for a few weeks and fly out to the soon-to-be-named hub on July 23/24 to settle in there, play an exhibition game, and then move into Phase 4 (play in) towards the very end of July.
But, first things first, hub cities will need to be named. We don’t know them yet, but we do know Pittsburgh will not be involved. It’s not really a big deal for the fans or players (since host cities aren’t likely to retain their own teams) but it does certainly show that there won’t be any sort of hockey in Pittsburgh for quite a while.