Lightfoot Enthusiastic Chicago Can Be NHL Hub City

The NHL will choose two cities to host the early rounds of an expanded playoff.

670 The Score Staff
May 28, 2020 - 2:55 pm

(670 The Score) The Blackhawks could potentially compete in the playoffs at home this season.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is "really enthusiastic" about Chicago's chance to serve as one of two hub cities to host the early rounds of the expanded NHL playoff format, she said at a press conference Thursday. Chicago is one of 10 cities the NHL is considering to host if it returns to action.

The NHL isn't in a rush to make a decision at this time, as it continues to monitor the coronavirus spread and new public health information from across the United States and Canada. With plenty of hotel space and ice rinks throughout the city, Chicago has the logistical infrastructure needed to host. The concern has been whether Chicago would be safe enough to serve as a hub city and whether there would be local restrictions preventing gatherings of the size needed to put on an NHL game.

There are no plans to have fans in attendance in the NHL's return. For now, discussions are still going on at a "league level" on where to play, Lightfoot said.

"I’m really enthusiastic about the possibility of getting hockey playoffs here in Chicago," Lightfoot said. "As you know, we are a hockey city. We’re one of the original franchises in the league. Hockey is deeply ingrained into the sports fabric of our city, and I'm going to do everything I can to support the efforts of the Blackhawks and others to bring hockey playoffs to Chicago."

The NHL plans to host the qualifying, first and second rounds of a 24-team playoff at two hub cities, with the Eastern and Western conferences each assigned their own location. Las Vegas, Columbus, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton are the other cities in consideration.

The 12th-seeded Blackhawks are set to play the fifth-seeded Oilers in the qualifying round. While the NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan Tuesday, it's not a guarantee that the season will resume. The NHL and players' union still must agree to health and safety protocols.