Alberta Premier Jason Kenney sat down with TSN's Ryan Rishaug on Thursday to discuss Edmonton's pitch to be a hub city for the NHL, saying the Oilers' facilities and the city's health record dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic make Edmonton an ideal choice.
What have your conversations been like with the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman about this region and what has your pitch been?
Kenney: First of all, their main focus has been and should be the safety of players and people who are involved. And there is no safer place in North America to do this than Edmonton. Edmonton has the lowest level of COVID-19 infections of any major city in North America, certainly lower than any other NHL city. We’ve had over the past week a couple, maybe two, new confirmed cases; 50 active cases in the city of more than 1 million people.
And plus, the [Oilers’] facility is like it was purpose-built for this strange scenario. You have the most modern, newest, high-tech rink in the NHL, which was voted the second-best ice surface by the NHLPA. They voted it as the best visitor team experience in the entire league. And attached to it is another NHL-sized ice surface in the community rink. All of this in an enclosed area, attached to a brand new five-star hotel, and another hotel, between them 650 rooms. I just cannot imagine any other city having that perfect purpose-built infrastructure to support the league.
How much convincing does it take for the province to be comfortable that the bubble they want to create will be a safe enough environment in terms of the rest of the general population not being at risk?