The NHL is leaning towards Edmonton and Toronto as the final picks for the two hub cities for playoffs, according to a TSN insider.
On Twitter, Bob McKenzie, who is one of TSN’s most long-standing and well-known personalities, said that the league will pick Toronto and Edmonton.
The NHL is looking for two hub cities as part of its goal to allow 24 teams to play out the playoffs for the Stanley Cup — one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference.
On Tuesday night, hockey analyst John Shannon spoke to the rumours on 630 CHED Inside Sports with Reid Wilkins.
“The latest is that, everything appears to be in Edmonton and Toronto as the two hubs,” Shannon said.
“There was little doubt in my mind that they wanted to be in Toronto, or let’s put it this way, they wanted to be in the Eastern Time zone,” he said. “Obviously Edmonton and the provincial government… has done a magnificent job of paving the way for Edmonton to become a hub city.”
However, Shannon noted nothing is official yet and he’s heard discussions are ongoing.
“Someone actually told me today (Tuesday) it’s not changing day to day — it’s changing hour-to-hour. But it looks like Edmonton and Toronto are the two hub cities,” he said.
Officials in Ontario and Alberta told Global News Wednesday that they could not comment on the status of NHL hub cities until agreements are finalized.
In Ontario, the NHL’s vice president of corporate communications Jennifer Neziol said “nothing has been finalized. When it is, we will make an announcement.”
Alberta Health deferred to Premier Jason Kenney’s office, where spokesperson Christine Myatt said she couldn’t comment “until we have official confirmation.”
There were initially 10 finalists — including seven in the U.S. — announced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
In mid-June, TSN said that the list had been cut down to six: Vegas, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Chicago and L.A.
Then, Vancouver was removed from the finalist list on June 25, due to concerns from B.C. health officials.
The federal government has approved a “cohort quarantine” proposal put forth by the NHL for players entering Canada should the country have a city selected as a hub.
McKenzie also said on Twitter Wednesday that while nothing is “carved in stone just yet,” NHLPA membership could be voting on critical dates for the playoffs by the weekend.
The league is currently aiming for July 10 as a start date for teams’ training camps.
–With files from Richard Zussman and Phil Heidenreich, Global News