Ten NHL markets — Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, L.A., Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver — are being considered for when the league resumes play later this summer in a 24-team playoff tournament. Though no formal announcement has come from the NHL and NHLPA, experts are weighing in on what might be the most viable options for the league as it whittles its options to two selections.
Former MLSE CEO Richard Peddie believes there is “no financial benefit” for teams to be hosting games without spectators and additionally, the loss of concessions, merchandise sales and other sources of revenue. “Maybe there’s a little ego involved. They may want to shine a light on their city,” Peddie added for why teams, owners and their local sports commissions might be interested in being a hub city. Peddie specifically pointed to L.A.’s infrastructure with Staples Center, the surrounding rinks and hotel accommodations for why it could be attractive for the league. Peddie also said with Vegas’ track record of continuing to attract and host more high-level sporting events — they most recently secured the ‘21 NFL Pro Bowl — it could also be a noteworthy option for the NHL.
Brian Lawton, a former player, GM and current analyst for NHL Network, explained that of the Canadian cities in contention, he would give a leg up to Toronto only on the basis that they previously hosted the ‘16 World Cup of Hockey. Lawton said, “All of the locations hotel-wise can support it, though. Toronto is a familiar spot for players. When I look at it and break it down on the Canadian side, that’s the one that’s most interesting to me.” On the U.S. front, Lawton said he would not be opposed to a city like L.A. or Chicago, both of which could support being a hub city. Las Vegas has already been reported by some as one of the two selected cities, though Lawton remarked that he could see both sides of the argument for why it may or may not make sense. “Logistically, certainly it’s a wonderful choice because you have so many hotels and things to do. … If I look at it as a former player, I can understand why players — make no mistake about it they’re going to have a huge say in this — I can understand why they’d want to be there. But then as a former manager or agent, I’m not crazy about what the environment is there at this moment.”
THE DAILY asked the hub cities’ sports councils and commissions to make their case for why they are best served to be one of the hubs selected by the NHL. Below are some of their responses, which have been edited for brevity and clarity.
This piece was originally published in Sports Business Daily by Mark J. Burns, with the graphic and data curated by Michael Cupello, SportsAtlas.