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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 4, 2020
Admittedly, it had the feel of somebody overplaying his hand.
It was a tad embarrassing. And a little laughable.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, in trying to make one final move to help Edmonton’s bid to become one of the two hub cities to play host to the COVID-19 version of the Stanley Cup playoffs, sent out a 63-second video on Twitter.
“It’s the obvious choice to bring @NHL to #Edmonton. We look forward to welcoming the league and players here to Alberta to take in the beautiful province we have to offer.”
The video opened with a backdrop of the majestic Canadian Rockies and featured a series of titles over the spectacular scenes:
“Playoffs in Edmonton.
“Play in the Rockies.
“All this. All Yours.
“Room to Breathe.
“Consider it Done.”
There wasn’t one second of video featuring Edmonton.
Citizens, to their credit, had fun with it, pointing out they’d been self-isolating so long they failed to notice all the recent changes to the place.
Considering everything in the video was located at least three and a half hours away, it left Edmonton open for a lot of ridicule.
But after a night to sleep on it …
It might have worked.
No harm. No foul.
While Kenney’s video was getting played thousands of times and fans were having fun throwing out their one-liners, the Oilers Entertainment Group was making their final pitch to the NHL and NHL Players Association. And, while it definitely was partially aimed at the players’ wives, the major thrust was to provided a detailed focus on the player-safety aspect of the ‘Edmonton Bubble’ that has been their hole card from the beginning.
If that is indeed the No. 1 priority, as commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly contended, then Edmonton finished the sell job despite the distraction of Kenney’s video.
The Edmonton bid, being led by Oilers Entertainment Group executives Stuart Ballantyne and Tim Shipton, clearly adopted the Hockey Canada model used at the IIHF world championships in bringing all the pieces of the bid together.
A couple of years ago, at the worlds in Prague, Czech Republic, your correspondent somehow managed to become the one media member to be included inside the bubble created for the teams all sharing the same hotel.
It was an Olympic Village-type concept with a dining room open at all hours for teams to rotate through as their schedules allowed during the three-games-per-day and practice days of the tournament.
It worked exceptionally well.
Edmonton hit the selection committee with the revelation they’ve made arrangements with the five-star J.W. Marriott Hotel, where the players from all 12 teams would be able to be accommodated and connects via pedway to Rogers Place.
Nobody else has that component. While some non-playing members of each team will have to reside at the other hotels within two blocks of the arena during the opening round, arrangements were revealed with Edmonton Police involving dedicated routes to the arena (and enclosed practice rink) for staff staying at the Delta and Sutton Place.
Added to the pitch were the massive 50,000 square feet of workout facilities at the J.W. Marriott and the Oilers’ own area in the arena.
Emphasis was again focused on the availability of testing and updates on Edmonton’s coronavirus numbers.
The other half of it switched from the IIHF world championship Prague model to the long-time Hockey Canada concept to solve the problem of players not wanting to go play at the worlds after a long NHL season.
Hockey Canada has long flown in family members for the second half of the tournament, along with a staff totally dedicated to finding them things to do and see while the hockey player in the family stayed mostly focused on the tournament.
Hence the video. The plan involving Tourism Alberta is to make it possible for them to visit Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore, complete with accommodations.
While most of this was suggested previously, the final push revealed the exclusive use of golf courses that would be made available to players between games and series and a dozen high-end local restaurants that would make food available for delivery.
There’s also the Ice District, with all sorts of outdoor patio components and giant video boards to watch the other tournament games.
If you can forgive Kenney his video, I’m not sure what else Edmonton could have done in the final push to secure the bid.
Whatever, it’s time.
Wherever the NHL and NHLPA decide to locate the hub cities, it’s time to focus on the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers, regardless of where they’re going to play in private.
On Twitter: @ByTerryJones
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020