The NHL has not yet announced its two hub cities to host the resumption of the 2019-20 season, but it was reported earlier this month that Las Vegas would be one of them.
Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee said, “I don’t know any more about this than you guys do,” during an interview with Hockey Central on Monday.
“The league is going to make a decision and some people have reported that we’re one of the hub cities but we’re not aware of that,” McPhee said.
Despite being uncertain of the league’s plans, McPhee broke down several reasons why the Nevada hot spot would be an ideal hub city for what should be a unique Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Any time a tourist goes to Vegas and you get into one of the hotels, you rarely leave because they have everything there,” McPhee said. “Your meals and all your entertainment, you can work out there, theatres, sports book, spas, you can get a haircut, whatever you need.
“It’s all there and people can get into one of these hotels and literally never leave on a weekend. So, they certainly have the capacity to do that. These hotels, some of them have as many as six, seven thousand rooms.
McPhee likened it to being on a cruise ship.
“You get tested before you go, you get tested every time you come in, you’re tested often, everybody that works there at that hotel stays in that hotel. They don’t go home at night,” McPhee explained. “The bus drivers taking you to and from the rink stay there, everybody at the rink stays there at the hotel, so you’re in the bubble. I guess that’s how they started this and that was the pitch they made (to the NHL).
“Vegas is a hospitality town. It’s a service business down there and they’re used to big, big events and they can handle this one.”
When it comes to rink availability, McPhee said “there’s enough ice to go around.”
He explained there are two sheets of ice at the Golden Knights’ practice facility, which is roughly 15 minutes from the strip.
The Las Vegas Ice Center has two sheets of ice and is located about a mile from the NHL practice facility.
Orleans Arena, the former home of the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers and the venue at which the Henderson Silver Knights will play in their inaugural AHL season, is located roughly a mile off the strip. The franchise is currently building a practice facility specifically for the Silver Knights that should be functional by August as well.
McPhee also mentioned the Sobe Ice Arena would be adequate and the MGM Grand has a rink in it that could potentially be used.
The Golden Knights will compete in a round robin with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars to determine Western Conference seeding for the first round of the playoffs.
Vegas went 15-5-2 after Peter DeBoer took over for Gerard Gallant in January and the team acquired backup goalie Robin Lehner, versatile defenceman Alec Martinez and depth forward Nick Cousins ahead of the trade deadline. McPhee added that his team is fully healthy at the moment and most of his players stayed in Vegas during the hiatus.
“We’ve worked at making the team better. All that said, who the heck knows what’s going to happen when we get playing again?” McPhee said with a chuckle. “You can throw out all the analytics, you can throw out how a team was playing. If you’re a good team, well so what? If you were not a good team, so what? I don’t think anybody can predict what’s going to happen now based on what happened during the season.”