As originally reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Vegas is set to be one of the hub cities if the NHL proceeds with the Return to Play. Sportsnet confirmed the news, and though The Athletic says it isn’t quite a done deal, it would be surprising if two cities other than Vegas made the cut.
The allure of Vegas is that MGM Resorts can create an enclosed bubble for NHL players, but one that would provide high-quality accommodations and sufficient entertainment opportunities. It’s a sacrifice to live in a constrained environment for three months without family members, and the league would like to keep players comfortable.
It’s that rationale that makes Los Angeles one of the frontrunners to be the other hub city, provided Canada does not waive its 14-day quarantine. If Canadian cities are an option, then Toronto or Vancouver — which both have a large amount of luxury hotel rooms and several practice ice sheets — would be the leading candidates to supplement Vegas.
However, if Canada does not relax its restrictions, then L.A. would be in the running. The NHL doesn’t want teams to have home-ice advantage during the playoffs, and that wouldn’t be an issue for the Kings. The amenities at the Marriott and the Ritz-Carlton next to Staples Center are second-to-none, and L.A. Live provides entertainment opportunities (such as a bowling alley and movie theatre) that could be cordoned off for NHL players. The primary hiccup, as we discussed a little while back, is the lack of practice ice. The Toyota Center itself is too small to host a full conference of playoff squads, and if teams think the traffic getting to El Segundo is bad, driving to Anaheim would be an entirely different challenge.
Still, if the overriding concern for the NHL is player experience, it would be hard to do better than Los Angeles. A longer commute to practice is tenable when a bed at the JW Marriott awaits on the way back.
On to the links...
- Players haven’t exactly been flooding practice facilities for voluntary workouts.
- Gary Bettman will take part in an ESPN panel called The Return of Sports tonight from 6-8 p.m. PST.
- A complete list of every team’s 2020 free agents.
- An interesting thread of books to read about black hockey history.
- Kings Director of Player Personnel Nelson Emerson joined the “Kings of the Podcast” to talk L.A.’s prospects and the NHL postseason.
- The locker room has changed from a sanctuary into a viral hotspot during the pandemic.
- From the archives: the L.A. Times story after the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2014.