Cross Dallas and Pittsburgh off of the list of possible playoff hub cities for the NHL’s return-to-play plans. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the list shrunk from 10 to six possibilities.

Chicago, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Vancouver remain as possible NHL hub cities. Earlier this week, the NHL ruled out Columbus and Minneapolis/St. Paul as hub cities.

The Stars haven’t released a comment about Dallas being ruled out yet. Meanwhile, Penguins executive David Morehouse released a statement regarding Pittsburgh not making the cut.

It’s not that shocking to see Pittsburgh ruled out, when you consider this map of COVID-19 cases, via the CDC:

CDC map COVID-19 NHL hub cities Dallas Pittsburgh

Texas (111,601) and Pennsylvania (82,186) rank among the areas hit hardest by COVID-19. KERA News notes more than 17,000 cases in Dallas county alone.

The NHL might not just be making decisions about hub cities based on COVID-19 outbreak numbers, though. The league seems to be taking infrastructure in mind, too. Are practice arenas and hotels conveniently located relative to the NHL arenas? How many NHL-ready rinks are available?

It’s possible such factors helped rule out Dallas and Pittsburgh, too.

Let’s briefly consider the six remaining hub city options for the NHL.

Check out Canada’s map of COVID-19 cases, via the government website:

Canada map COVID-19 NHL hub cities Dallas Pittsburgh

The area features the infrastructure and market size that could make Los Angeles an appealing NHL hub cities in many ways. Yet, even among risky ideas, this seems especially risky, though.

Clark County reports 10,774 cases, representing almost 80 percent of Nevada’s cases. The Vegas/Nevada area recently experienced its worst spikes, too.

But, yes … relatively speaking, Vegas hasn’t been hit as hard. It also features a pretty unique array of hotels, and a solid market, making it appealing in many ways.

Overall, the six remaining potential NHL hub cities present pros and cons. It’s pretty easy to see the safer options, yet the league also must try to time things right to pull off a return to play. That continues to look like a pretty difficult needle to thread.

Follow this NBC News live update thread for more on the coronavirus pandemic.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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