EDMONTON – “It’s for fun, the comparisons between the National Hockey League and one of its playoff groups in Edmonton or Las Vegas.
Like, seriously? Are we really talking about it?
Well, in fact, they are. And there are several reasons for this.
First, did you go to Vegas in August? The average high during this month is 38 to 40 degrees Celsius, with an average low around 26 degrees. It’s like entering a pizza oven when you leave your hotel in Vegas, and even a little fresh air is needed from time to time in Sin City.
For many, the reason you would choose Las Vegas weather over Edmonton weather for nine months of the year is the same reason you would choose Edmonton weather over Las Vegas weather for July, August and September.
Las Vegas has every city in North America – maybe the world? – beat if the competition concerns only hotels, swimming pools and access to banquet halls, restaurants, etc. But that doesn’t beat Edmonton or Vancouver when it comes to the availability of NHL-sized hockey rinks to accommodate 12 teams.
In Vancouver, they have a one-stop shop with the 8 Burnaby ice rinks, while Edmonton’s offer originally offered to provide each of the 12 teams with its own training rink. This was deemed unnecessary, but assuming six training rinks are required, these are two facilities owned by the City of Edmonton – plus the one under the same roof as the main rink at Rogers Place for the pre-match skates. No problem.
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people in the hockey world, then tell listeners everything they’ve heard and what they think.
Speaking of skating rinks, what about making ice in August in the desert? Now, without a fan opening and closing the arena doors, it will help keep the heat outside. But anyone who has been on the NHL circuit can tell you this: If humidity is the # 1 enemy of the ice maker, intense heat is # 2.
There is a reason why the Edmonton ice has always been at or near the top of the NHL. It’s dry and a nice hot summer day is around 27 degrees Celsius. The average August peak is only 22.
These are the playoffs. Making good ice cream should be a priority, right?
The Oilers bid includes three hotels within a five-minute walk of Rogers Place and a fourth – the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald – about 15 minutes on foot.
Do players want to play golf? There are many courses that would like an NHL team to fill out their tee sheet on a day off – no problem. You might get a mosquito bite, but you can leave at 1 p.m. and no heat stroke. Or at 6 p.m. and always 6 p.m.
Another place where the new Edmonton arena matches or beats anyone – especially Vancouver – is to broadcast space in the press room. There is room for 12 radio teams and as many television teams to call games at Rogers Place, a key part of Edmonton’s bid, as the NHL always decides how much media it is ready to allow inside the building.
And of course, there is the COVID-19 situation, where a metropolitan population of 1.3 million people managed the pandemic well. To date, the Edmonton area has 61 active cases and 12 deaths. These figures in Vegas (5,815 and 322) and Vancouver (887 and 86) simply cannot compete, due to the size and international status of the two cities compared to Edmonton.
Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast on the impact of COVID-19 on sports around the world. They speak to experts, athletes and personalities, providing a window into the lives of the people we normally look for in entirely different ways.
Meanwhile, the problem of players having to spend two weeks in quarantine when crossing the Canadian border is considered less difficult than what was previously reported, we are told. Basically, by the time players are asked to cross the border, it is believed that the federal government will no longer have such restrictions in place, and if COVID-19 is triggered to the point that they are in place or the restrictions are reinforced, then the whole prospect of resuming the season would be in danger.
Feds, like Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, see the value of the NHL tournament to Canadians, whether in Alberta or British Columbia. They will remove obstacles within reasonable limits, being careful not to create special circumstances for athletes before ordinary citizens.
Which brings us to testing, another area where NHL staff can’t get in line. The Oilers’ bid includes a contract with a laboratory to perform all necessary tests, so that they can maintain their own capacity without exhausting the province’s capacity to test Albertans.
Finally, while the Oilers are still fighting quietly to host the Western Conference tournament here, many teams have complained that no team should have the advantage of playing at their home arena, only fans are present or not.
Edmonton’s bid has gone too far to go back now, we are told. They would prefer the Oilers to play at Rogers Place, but if they can convince the hockey world that there are compelling reasons to choose northern Alberta over the Nevada desert, they will accept the pool Eastern Conference if necessary.