Coronavirus: Canada clears three cities to be potential hubs for NHL's return

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Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver all are eligible to be a hub city as part of the NHL's return-to-play plan.

The three Canadian cities are among the 10 the NHL is considering, with seven United States cities – Chicago, Dallas, Columbus, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St Paul and Pittsburgh – also in the running.

"We have indicated that we are comfortable with moving forward on an NHL hub in one of three Canadian cities that are asking for it," Trudeau said.

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"Obviously, the decision needs to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction. Canada is open to it as long as it is OK by the local health authorities."

Canada's border remains closed to nonessential travel through at least July 21, but Trudeau said the closure does not affect NHL players, some of whom have already been traveling to rejoin their teams. The league said it would not select a Canadian city if players were required to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

"The National Hockey League appreciates the significant effort that the government of Canada put into reviewing this matter and satisfying itself that the league's protocol and processes for return to play were thorough, well thought out and, most importantly, focused on the health and safety of all concerned," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement to the Toronto Star.

"The league will continue to work with the respective provincial governments and health authorities in the coming days as we consider our hub cities decision."

The NHL is gearing up for a return amid the coronavirus pandemic and would start with the playoffs and 24 teams split between two hub cities.

Teams are scheduled to begin training camp on July 10 provided medical and safety concerns allow and the NHL and the NHL Players' Association reach agreement on resuming play.

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