VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As Vancouver picks up steam as a potential hub city for the NHL, one sports insider says the risks might outweigh the benefits.
Sportsnet 650 host James Cybulski says it might seem natural for a hockey-crazy city like Vancouver to host the NHL, but he questions if this is the best idea during the pandemic, especially with cases on the risk in the U.S.
“There’s a realization that we’re not done with COVID-19 just yet. Do we want to bring all those additional people here into our city?”
“I think a lot of players are starting to suddenly, quietly speak up. Those words are getting a little more vocal to say this isn’t entirely safe. There’s still a major health risk. It’s still a global pandemic going on,” he adds.
He wonders what would happen if cases continue to rise south of the border and notes training camps are set to start in July.
“If you’re seeing suddenly a spike in cases, do you have to put things on hold and say ‘Does this make sense right now?'”
At least 11 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the league.
Even if Vancouver is chosen, Cybulski points out the Canucks wouldn’t have home-ice advantage.
“Nobody is rolling with a sea of white towels as you step out onto the ice. There’s no crowd advantage or home-ice advantage I would see,” he says.
“Games will be played in an empty area. There’s no fans going.”
He notes there could be an economic benefit bringing in teams to stay in hotels, going out to restaurants, or even on tourism.
Earlier this month, provincial health officials approved the league’s safety plan allowing Vancouver to be a possible hub city.
The NHL is expected to announce the two hub cities soon.