CHICAGO – Fans may not be able to see hockey in person at the United Center, but the city might still have the chance to host some games before the summer ends.
Per Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, Chicago remains as one of the six cities in the running to be a hub city for the NHL’s return to play 24-team tournament.
The city remains in the process after Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota and Pittsburgh were eliminated. Chicago remains along with Edmonton, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Two cities will be chosen in the end to host 12 Eastern or Western Conference teams for the tournament. It will feature a preliminary round to narrow the field to 16 teams and then a traditional Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This week figures to help Chicago’s chances to host since the city is preparing to move to Phase 4 of their COVID-19 reopening plan. This would allow for sporting events in venues across the city, though no fans are expected to be able to attend in the near future.
The United Center figures to be a primary host of games while the team’s nearby practice facility, Fifth Third Arena, could also serve the 12 team’s needs during the tournament.
It was the Blackhawks who were the last team in Chicago to play a game in the city back on March 11th when they beat the Sharks at the United Center. The NHL suspended their season the next day as COVID-19 pandemic took hold in America.
Whether Chicago is chosen or not, Blackhawks’ fans will have hockey for at least three games this summer since the team is the 12th seed in the Western Conference for the tournament. They’ll face fifth-seeded Edmonton in the five-game preliminary round.