Our hub cities have finally been leaked. The NHL season will continue in two cities in Canada: Edmonton and Toronto. There was also big news reported on a possible return to the Olympics for NHL players. Overall, last week offered a lot of positive in the hockey world. Which is something we all need badly right now.
1. Edmonton and Toronto Are Your Hub Cities… Probably
It looks like we know where the NHL season will continue this season. According to NHL super-reporter Bob McKenzie, the two hub cities that will host the remainder of the NHL season are Edmonton, AB, and Toronto, ON. It is not official yet, but if Bob McKenzie reports it, I’m going to believe it.
Barring any last-minute complications, and we have seen some of those (Vancouver and Las Vegas), the two NHL Hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto. 🇨🇦
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2020
Las Vegas, NV seemed to be a lock to be one of the hub cities, but with the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases, its case to host NHL hockey was damaged.
With no fans in the stands, the Oilers and Maple Leafs won’t have much of a home-ice advantage outside of sleeping in their own beds. That is still an advantage. Athletes are creatures of habit and being able to spend more time in your own home and have somewhat of a routine will help. I’d rather do that than live in a hotel for a few months.
This is a huge step towards playing hockey again. Each announcement means that the NHL is committed to finishing the season. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t waste their time figuring out difficult logistics like hub cities. Let’s hope there are no more hiccups and we can watch hockey sooner rather than later.
2. Are NHL Players Returning to the Olympics?
If the NHL/NHLPA finalize things, if the players ratify it, and subject to negotiation with IOC, sounds like proposed CBA extension includes the NHL’s return to Olympic participation covering both 2022 and 2026. Which is 👌
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2020
If you needed good news, this is it. Last week, another super-reporter, Pierre LeBrun tweeted that the proposed CBA extension would allow NHL players to return to the Olympics in 2022 and 2026.
Before everyone loses their shit, this far from a done deal. CBA negotiations are never a sure thing. Let’s not forget that an inability to ratify a CBA caused a lockout in 2012-13, where the league only played 48 regular-season games. The entire 2004-05 season was also lost due to a lockout. Also, even if the CBA is ratified by both parties, negotiations with the IOC are still necessary.
This is still a HUGE step in the right direction. A year or two ago, it seemed as if NHL players would never return to the Olympics. Many owners cited the many risks and few rewards of sending their players to the Olympics. This includes an inability to promote their players playing in the tournament and potential injuries to their players (i.e., John Tavares in 2014). After the IOC refused to cover insurance costs in 2018, that was the nail in the coffin for the NHL willing to send their players two years ago.
After being forced to sit out the 2018 Olympics, the players have expressed their desire to return. This makes me happy. International hockey is special. Players from different countries grow up playing their own brand of hockey. There is nothing better seeing an entire team of players that grew up playing the same way. I’m not patriotic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cool to see guys battle it out for their country.
3. Multiple Blues Players Test Positive for COVID-19
Over the weekend, it was reported that a few members of the Blues have tested positive for COVID-19. Due to the positive tests, the team canceled their Phase 2 workouts scheduled for the weekend. According to the report, it is expected that practice will resume Monday.
This is not surprising but it’s scary. With voluntary workouts in full-swing, it will be interesting to see how quickly the virus spread to other members of the team if it spreads. With players and team officials tested frequently, we will have a chance to see if the protocols the league outlined are effective. Because if players and coaches are not following safety protocols I’d assume we will see more positive tests.
Also, each time someone on a team tests positive all other teams will have a chance to learn from each situation. Each positive test will almost be a litmus test for how effectively a team’s medical staff can prevent the spread of the virus.
If each team can’t figure out how to follow safety protocols, there’s no chance the season resumes. It’s not up to me to say to what lengths each player and coach should go to so they’re able to participate in the return to play. But, they should be following basic social-distancing to ensure they don’t infect anyone else.
I want hockey back just as much as anyone else. It seems as if the players do, too. Unlike the NBA where many players have opted out of the season, I haven’t heard much opposition from NHL players. So, if NHL players want to play again this season, the safety protocols need to be followed. Hopefully, the players and team officials continue to follow protocol and the virus doesn’t spread to an entire team.
4. Flyers’ Lindblom Ends Cancer Treatments
Some more great news. NHL.com announced that Philadelphia Flyers’ Oscar Lindblom completed his cancer treatments on Thursday. On December 13th, 2019, the Flyers announced that Lindblom had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer. Lindblom has not played since but did suit up to skate with this teammates on June 23rd.
This is a great story. Cancer is a scary thing that has probably affected almost everyone reading this. It’s great to see someone in the hockey community bounce back from chemotherapy.
I’m not a medical expert, so I’m not sure if this means Lindblom is cancer-free or has beat cancer. But, it seems as though he is healthy and things are trending up. The way the city of Philadelphia and the hockey community supported him was awesome to watch.
Not only that but, the Flyers helped contribute to the fight against cancer too. According to the article,
“Biscuit Tees, a company co-owned by Kim Parent, the daughter of Flyers legend Bernie Parent, sold Oskar Strong shirts, with more than $200,000 in sales being donated to Hockey Fights Cancer. The shirts can be purchased at BiscuitTees.com.”
This is a classy move from the Flyers organization. I wish Lindblom the best in his recovery and I hope we can see him scoring goals next season! I also recommend everyone buy a shirt if they can afford it or support an organization working to prevent cancer!
5. Seabrook Aiming to Return for Playoffs
It appears as the delayed season might pay dividends for the Chicago Blackhawks. Yesterday, a report announced that ‘Hawks defensemen Brent Seabrook might be able to return for the team’s series against the Oilers. Seabrook is recovering from surgeries on his right shoulder and left hip. He has not played since December 15th, 2019.
Even if Seabrook returns, I’m not sure he will provide any help against the Oilers. The Blackhawks are the 12th and last seed in the West and it’s doubtful they can beat the Oilers three times. Also, Seabrook’s game has fallen off a cliff over the last three years. He has four points in 32 games this season.
The Blackhawks are probably hoping he can provide some sort of help going forward. If not this season, then the next few. Seabrook has another four years on his contract, which may be the worst in the league right now.
I doubt Seabrook will be able to do much. But, if he can stay on the ice and play well enough to not be the Blackhawks’ worst player, that’s a victory for Chicago. ■