For the first time since the ideas of hub cities hosting the NHL playoffs began, it appears one of the frontrunner cities is now out of the running. Word coming down from multiple reporters is that Las Vegas is no longer the first choice to host games, assuming they’re still under consideration at all.

Frank Seravalli of TSN reports, “… sounds like Vegas is no longer a frontrunner to host an #NHL hub city. Spike in COVID-19 numbers in Vegas appears to have put a damper on their bid. As @TSNBobMcKenzie reported, very possible both hubs cities are in Canada.

Seravalli then lists Edmonton and Toronto as the new lead candidates.

John Shannon also reports that the NHL is now leaning towards all games being hosted in Canadian cities. He too names Toronto and Edmonton as the two locations the NHL is leaning towards.

Part of the issue was the players’ feedback on their mental health if they were “stuck” in Vegas. They couldn’t go out, they can’t golf, it’s over 100 degrees and they would be in air-conditioned-filled rooms that alone in a city is meant to be taken advantage of.

This all comes after reports from Eric Engels that players have grown increasingly concerned about their health and safety and that the NHLPA has not been on the up-and-up with them about the decision-making process that would ask the players to return to game action. After more than 10 percent of players tested positive for COVID-19, that concern is more-than justified.

Players may not have been told everything, but as one scribe put it, ‘they can read’ and it was becoming clear that Vegas was not the safest destination to be sending everyone. With over 1,000 news cases per day being diagnosed, the idea of keeping everyone healthy was far-fetched, to say the least.

If the NHL was at all worried players wouldn’t report if Vegas was chosen, how could they proceed knowing that a good chunk of the top players wouldn’t participate?

Still a Fluid Situation

Seravalli did point out that nothing is set in stone. While the expectation was that the NHL would have made an announcement by now on the hub cities, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug pointed out that CBA negotiations took precedence today. Hub cities are still something the league is talking about and weighing the decision very carefully.

Seravalli writes:

“As usual, It’s been difficult to be definitive on any reporting with regard to hub cities and return to play. It’s all been fluid. But that’s the way the wind has been blowing today.

Related: [Report] 75% of NHL Players Don’t Want to Return to Play