Vancouver out of the running to be hub city for the NHL: Canucks
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver is officially out of the running to be a hub city for the NHL, according to the Canucks.
"From the beginning, our goal was to help the NHL get hockey back on the ice if we could," the team said in a tweet late Thursday afternoon. "Although Vancouver won't be a Hub City, we are still excited to see hockey start up again."
The team also thanked Premier John Horgan, Minister of Tourism Lisa Beare, and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for their support as they worked with the league.
"Now we look forward and are very excited to welcome our Canucks players back for training camp at Rogers Arena in the coming weeks," the team said. "An exciting finish to the season is just around the corner, and we can't wait to drop the puck."
Horgan expressed his disappointment at the news on Twitter but said protecting the health and safety of B.C. residents is his number one priority, and that he will be cheering for the Canucks wherever they end up hitting the ice.
"I'm disappointed the NHL playoffs won't be coming to Vancouver, but we will not bend the rules on public health guidelines and risk the progress we made," he said.
In a statement, Beare echoed the premier's sentiments and thanked the Canucks for leading the bid efforts to bring the playoffs to Vancouver.
"Our government was proud to support the bid, and we appreciate the hard work and enthusiasm that went into the process," she said.
Team owner Francesco Aquilini also took to Twitter to express his disappointment at the news and thanked the NHL for its "careful diligence," as well as Henry and Horgan for their support.
In an interview with CTV Morning Live Thursday, TSN correspondent Ryan Rishaug said the situation for Vancouver had hit a snag in the "11th hour." He described the situation as "potentially on life support" if some of the final details didn’t come together.
Vancouver was once considered a front runner, though other Canadian cities are also being considered, but Rishaug said B.C.'s COVID-19 regulations may be an issue.
Rishaug said this is when the league would be circling back with hub city teams to finalize health protocols to ensure they were in alignment with what the NHL and players' associations feel they need. They would also be checking those details line up with the provincial health authority.
Rishaug said reports suggest those details may have caused the "snag" he's heard of.
Parts of B.C.'s plan made public by the premier include that a team would be treated as a family entity. They'd stay together in one hotel, and travel to Rogers Arena as a group, in private transportation.
Any testing would be the club's responsibility, and they'd have no interaction with the public for a 14-day quarantine period.
The NHL's reaction to those guidelines has not been made public.
Rishaug said Las Vegas is a front-runner, but with high COVID-19 case numbers being reported, that may have an impact.
He said it's possible Vegas will be able to create enough of a "bubble" around visiting teams just based on the size of the hotels available there.
Two other Canadian cities—Edmonton and Toronto—are still hub city contenders, along with Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago.
When asked earlier in the day about whether the talks with the NHL had gone awry, Health Minister Adrian Dix said that was not the case.
"There's no breakdown," he said. "Vancouver-- and anybody who's paying any attention at all knows this-- is the best possible place for them to come because we enforce public health rules in British Columbia, thoroughly and completely."
The players, fans and arena workers expect the rules to apply to everyone, he said, adding that the province has made its pitch but the league will make its own decision.
"I love the NHL. I love the idea of hockey coming here, but I'm also the minister of health," he said.