Sources: NHL Has Selected Two Hub Cities
NHL sources have indicated that they have shifted their focus to two cities in Canada to be named as “hub” cities during the restart. Toronto and Edmonton will be named as the hosts when the league resumes play later this summer.
The players still have to vote on the proposal, but they are expected to vote in favor of returning to play and completing the 2019-20 season. More than a dozen cities in North America submitted a bid to be named a hub city, but the league is looking to play their games in Canada.
Las Vegas was considered a frontrunner to be named one of the hub cities, but a recent spike in positive cases of the coronavirus has the league office worried. The United States as a whole is also seeing a resurgence in the virus, which is a reason that the league was looking to Canada.
Choosing two sites in Canada will save the league money, and will cut down on some of the travel associated with the restart plan. It’s unclear when teams will begin traveling to Canada for training camps, but they will not have to follow the self-quarantine protocols that are in place for other travelers.
The NHL has already submitted a proposal to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and he has waived this requirement for members of the league. Trudeau announced that he would also do the same for Major League Baseball, but his office has not yet seen a proposal from MLB.
An official vote is expected to take place later next week, and the league is hoping to begin playing games in early August.
Positive Cases Affecting NHL Teams
NHL players have been able to participate in voluntary workouts since June 8, but they had to submit to COVID-19 testing. There have been a little more than 250 players that have participated, and the league announced their testing results on Monday.
Fifteen players have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning to their facilities, which means the league has seen a positivity rate of 6%. The league also announced that they are aware of 11 other players testing positive for the coronavirus, but those players have not been working out at team facilities.
Any player that has tested positive for COVID-19 has been self-isolating, and they have not been able to return to the team facility until they were cleared. July 10 is the first official day of training camps for the teams that will be competing in the 24-team restart.
League sources have indicated that the date could be pushed back to July 13, but no official announcement has been made.
Signing Bonuses Will be Paid
The NHL will go ahead and pay their signing bonuses that are due to players on July 1. Across the league, there is more than $300 million owed to players, and the league has decided to continue with these payments.
The Toronto Maple Leafs owe more than $60 million in signing bonuses to their players, and this is due to the common practice of adding a massive signing bonus into any long term deal.
Members of the NHL and the NHL Players Association have been meeting regularly about the 24-team restart, and they agreed during these meetings that the signing bonuses would be paid. The two sides are still working through several issues associated with the return to play plan, but they were able to agree on this issue.
The NHL and NHLPA are hoping to announce an extension to their collective bargaining agreement in a few days, which would keep labor peace for a longer time.
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