In March of 2020, the National Hockey League decided to suspend operations for the season because of the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Then, in May, the league announced that the playoffs would still be happening, which came as a big relief to Oilers fans who had belief that the team was poised to make a run at the Stanley Cup. The announcement, however, said that it wouldn’t be a traditional playoffs.
Instead, there would be what’s known as “hub cities” that would serve as the host of the tournament. In theory, one city would host the playoffs for the Western Conference, while another hosts the Eastern Conference. Early on, Las Vegas and Toronto were considered to be the prime contenders, while Edmonton also threw its hat into the ring. Whoever would land the hub city would be given a chance to show that they’re capable of hosting such an unprecedented event, and could open the door for future tournaments and global competitions such as the Olympics.
There are many in Edmonton that feel that becoming a hub city for the NHL’s consideration and all sports in general could bring 10s of millions of dollars, as well as creating thousands of new jobs. It would also mean that the Oilers would get a massive advantage in playing (even if there aren’t fans in the seats), as all of their home games while being a hub city host would theoretically be played at Rogers Place.
As for captain Connor McDavid, he would love to play at home for all games, but wants it to be in front of the faithful Oilers fans. “It’s gonna feel weird in the building no matter where you play,” he said. “No matter if you’ve played there 100 times. No matter if you’ve never played there. The building is going to feel weird with no fans being in there…That’s just my opinion.”