As part of the NHL’s plan to restart its season this summer, the city of Chicago is one of 10 cities that could potentially serve as a “hub city” to help facilitate a resumption of play.
According to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the league will employ two so-called “hub cities” when play resumes later this year. Each city will house a total of 12 teams, with one city hosting Eastern Conference games and one hosting Western Conference games, according to a plan laid out by the commissioner Tuesday.
Chicago is one of 10 cities that is being evaluated as a potential “hub city,” along with Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver, according to Bettman.
These cities will host games for a total of 12 different teams, with the top four teams entering a round-robin tournament to determine the seeding for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The remaining eight clubs will compete in best-of-five series to determine which four teams will advance into that first round, where they will face the top-seeded teams in each hub.
The Blackhawks, who are the 12th-seed in the Western Conference, will take on the Edmonton Oilers when play resumes, Bettman said.
Before that can occur, the league has to jump through several hoops, proceeding with guidance from medical experts and local authorities. The league anticipates that teams will be allowed to return to their home facilities for voluntary small-group training in early June as part of Phase Two of the league’s restart plan.
In Phase Three, teams will enter a training camp period, which will begin no earlier than July 1, according to the commissioner. Phase Four, the playoffs, will start several weeks after training camp, according to Bettman.
Once the postseason begins, each team will be limited to a total of 50 personnel in their respective hub city, with further restrictions placed on staffers who can be in attendance at games.
Comprehensive testing will be implemented, and medical experts and authorities must sign off on the safety of the plan before it can move forward.