If NHL Resumes, Toronto Maple Leafs Should Host Atlantic Division Games

Toronto Maple Leafs and 2020 NHL All-Stars (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs and 2020 NHL All-Stars (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images) /

For the first time in a while, it feels like the Toronto Maple Leafs may be playing hockey soon.

Multiple reports have noted that the NHL wants to return play and finish the regular season.  Rumours suggest they would aligned by division, so the Toronto Maple Leafs would be a perfect host-city for the Atlantic Division.

Included as front-runners thus far, are the Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild for three of the four divisions. However, the Atlantic Division has yet to have a favorite emerge.

So, why not Toronto?

In terms of COVID-19 cases, let’s compare the teams in the Atlantic Division (as of April 23rd, 2020):

  • New York (Buffalo Sabres) – 263,460 cases
  • Massachusetts (Boston Bruins) – 46,023 cases
  • Michigan (Detroit Red Wings) – 35,291 cases
  • Florida (Tampa Bay Lightning & Florida Panthers)– 27,869 cases,
  • Quebec (Montreal Canadiens) – 21,838 cases
  • Ontario (Toronto Maple Leafs & Ottawa Senators) – 12,879 cases

As you can see, Ontario has the least amount of cases by any other state or province.

Although that statistic doesn’t mean everything, Toronto has the perfect infrastructure to pull this off, compared to Ottawa if they kept it in Ontario.

Rink Space

In terms of professional hockey rinks, Toronto has the ability to broadcast games at two NHL-quality rinks.

Coca-Cola Coliseum and Scotiabank Arena are two NHL-size rinks, seven minutes away from each other that would be perfect venues for teams. Coca-Cola Coliseum is the home for the AHL Toronto Marlies, but the venue has played host to multiple Toronto Maple Leafs pre-season games there, so it’s up to code.

Scotiabank Arena, of course, is the home for the Toronto Maple Leafs so there’s no problem there.

Not only do you have two NHL venues that can broadcast games on TV, you have Ford Performance Centre that has four pads for practicing. One rink is Olympic size ice, but that shouldn’t matter for practicing and conditioning.

With six rinks spread between eight teams, the NHL will have an easy time sharing ice and making sure that everyone is keeping a far distance from each other.

Hotels & Accommodations

The biggest concern with these games is making sure the players are isolating and away from the general public, but Toronto has that covered.

Hotel X is located right beside Coca-Cola Coliseum which is a world-class hotel. Although you can’t technically get there from underground, it’s a 10-second walk across the street and you’re inside the Enercare Centre, which is connected to Coca-Cola Coliseum.

It’s also right down the road from Scotiabank Arena, so if you played games there, it would be an easy and safe commute.

Hotel X has 404 rooms, a number of restaurants, and entertainment rooms as well that the NHL could turn into film-rooms, media rooms, or whatever they needed to do to accommodate.

The Hotel also has access to a weight-room for exercising, but so does Coca-Cola Coliseum, Ford Performance Centre and Scotiabank Arena, so players can stay fit

With 404 rooms, that allows 50 people per team to have their own room, which should be enough, but if it’s not, there are a number of different hotels in the area as well, or you could get each Toronto Maple Leafs player to isolate in their home.

Hosting these games would provide a number of issues and health concerns, but it would also provide a nice uplift to Toronto’s economy in dire times.  Though that should not be anyone’s primary concern.

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Although we wouldn’t be able to watch these games in person, there’s no better city in the Atlantic Division than Toronto to host these games, if in fact the NHL does go through with this plan.