Columbus Listed As Candidate to Host NHL Return Games, Per Report

By Chris Pennington on May 19, 2020 at 4:58 pm
A view of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets starters as an American flag is passed over the crowd during the national anthem prior to game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Our little Columbus, you say?

Columbus, along with Vegas, are two cities named as candidates to host potential return games for the NHL, according to NHL Insider Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.

Johnston joined the Sportsnet Today podcast on Monday to discuss the talk around the NHL looking to resume the suspended season in the next few months - and some of that talk is surrounding certain cities being "hub" cities for the entire league. And at the moment, "Vegas is most likely" but Columbus is "likely going to be the other one".

To be clear, these hub cities would likely only be used in this junction to "host a season resumption", not necessarily for the entire use of the postseason, but those details will likely come as more information and results of the spread of the virus comes to light. 

​"It does sound as though we're potentially looking at two cities (Vegas and Columbus) where each conference puts 12 teams aside to play some games before the playoffs and then go into an expanded playoff-like tournament, but again that hasn't been fully agreed upon at this hour."

Talks began with four cities hosting these resumption games, two cities in Canada and two cities in the United States, but those talks have seemingly dwindled down to keep it to two cities, says Johnston. The biggest reason that under current regulations, anyone arriving in Canada is "subject to a 14-day quarantine period that would apply to NHL teams in the absence of a government exemption."

Sticking with two U.S. cities, like Vegas and Columbus (not specifically) would just mean "fewer governments to deal with and fewer regulations to work with", Johnston claimed. 

Johnston explained further that the NHL remains in Phase 1 of its return-to-play timeline, meaning players are remaining in quarantine. At some point, the league will move to Phase 2, meaning small groups would be allowed to gather at team training facilities. Finally, Phase 3 would be training camps starting up.

The NHL seems pretty set on trying to return in some facet and name a Stanley Cup winner from this past season, and that journey back might just begin in Columbus, Ohio. 

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