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UPDATE: Pittsburgh Appears OUT of NHL Hub Cities, Phase 2 Expands

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NHL Hub Cities Pittsburgh PPG Paints Arena

By simple math and deduction, it appears Pittsburgh will not be an NHL hub city. Combining multiple credible reports which stated the NHL narrowed the hub city field to six cities, including three Canadian cities, the final candidates are coming into focus. While no one has yet reported Pittsburgh is out, it’s also not on the list of cities still under consideration.

The NHL continues to look at Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto as possibilities. Reports indicated the NHL had already selected Vegas to be a hub city, but that decision may be in jeopardy after 1700 new COVID-19 diagnosis last week. Las Vegas remains on the shortlist.

According to The Athletic Columbus reporter Aaron Portzline, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekkalainen confirmed Columbus is out of the running.

TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun reported the three Canadian cities were still under consideration, in addition to Las Vegas. On Monday, LeBrun also tabbed Chicago and Los Angeles as still being considered by the NHL.

Combining the reports, the final list of six includes Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Pittsburgh was on the list of 10 cities the NHL was vetting to be a hub city, as cited by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

NHL Expands Phase 2 Workout Groups

According to Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston, the NHL is also expanding Phase 2 workout group size to 12 players, up from 6. The move is effective on Tuesday and will allow teams to accommodate more players as they report for the voluntary workouts.

Last week, the NHL urged players living outside their hockey cities and outside North America to report by June 21, so that teams may complete quarantine procedures and testing in time for the start of Phase 3 training camps on July 10.

Teams are expected to report to their hub cities on July 23 or 24, so they may play one exhibition game before Phase 4 games begin on July 30.

The NHL confirmed via a statement on Friday that 11 players tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 testing began on June 8. The Pittsburgh Penguins have confirmed one player tested positive and a Toronto media report named Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews as another player that tested positive.

Also on Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning had to close their practice facilities after a handful of players and staff tested positive. Thus far, no current NHL players have been confirmed to suffer severe effects from the virus. According to the Tampa Bay Lightning, three of their organization members were asymptomatic, and two had only low-grade fevers.

All began self-quarantine.

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