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Pierre McGuire: It’s So Easy, It’s Crazy Easy To Do Everything In Vegas For 12 Teams

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

A few weeks back we wrote how Las Vegas was not an ideal location to host eight NHL teams at once. Our main argument against a Vegas hub was the lack of quality sheets of ice.

The city of Las Vegas currently only has three sheets of ice that meet NHL standards; one at T-Mobile and two at City National Arena. A year from now there will be two more at Lifeguard Arena in Henderson, then in a few years another one at the AHL rink in Henderson, but as for now, you can’t reasonably make NHL teams vying for a playoff spot, practice at the Ice Center or Sobe Arena. Not to mention, with everyone housed on the Strip, transporting players and equipment for SEVEN teams back and forth the 17 miles to Summerlin, only to be crammed into City National Arena simply isn’t logical. -SinBin.vegas, 4/24/20

With word that the NHL is pushing a 24-team postseason format, a pod city would hold not eight, but 12 teams. Yesterday, NHL analyst Pierre McGuire jumped on TSN Montreal to pitch Las Vegas as the perfect location. The league is considering two pod cities that would hold three, possibly four NHL games per day. Southern Nevada continues to be high on the list for obvious reasons. Hotel rooms, first-class amenities, and easy access to the T-Mobile Arena and other venues. However, the lack of practice ice is greatly overlooked.

Because they got significant ice availability starting with obviously the MGM arena. They got their arena where they practice. They’ve got the Thomas & Mack Center. They’re building an arena for an American Hockey League team that might already be completed in Henderson.-Pierre McGuire, NBC Sports Analyst

The Henderson facility (Lifeguard Arena) is projected to be finished this fall. Could the league help expedite the project? Sure, but there have been no indications that’s the case. Which leaves the Thomas & Mack Center, MGM Grand Garden Arena, T-Mobile Arena, and the City National Arena to cram in practice and morning skates for 12 teams.

Two sheets of ice at the CNA could comfortably serve four NHL clubs, one being the Golden Knights. After that, it’s up in the air. T-Mobile Arena would be available for teams when actual games weren’t being played, but is that viable? Will the Thomas & Mack and Grand Garden Arena have enough time to refreeze their surfaces and make them NHL quality?

More than enough hotel space. They’ve got more than enough ice availability. They’ve got more than enough convention area for dressing rooms if they need them. They’ve got perfect infrastructure to host this.-McGuire

The league is shooting for upwards of four games per day. Considering these are playoff games with no official end time like a regular season game, cramming four into the same arena could cause some trouble. MGM Grand Garden Arena and the Thomas & Mack Center are turn-key sites with proper broadcast accessibility for league networks. In theory, Las Vegas has multiple venues with the ability to accommodate professional hockey games.

It’s so easy, it’s crazy easy to do everything in Vegas for 12 teams.- McGuire

The Orleans Casino plans on hosting Henderson’s AHL club for the 2020-21 season, so it’s possible the casino can prepare the ice sooner for the NHL. If the MGM and Thomas & Mack do the same, we’re talking about five legitimate sheets of ice.

Personally, I would exclude T-Mobile Arena as a practice site altogether. Is there enough time in the day to hold multiple games and practices? And how will the ice hold up after 8-10 hours of NHL hockey being played on it daily?

Ice remains the only true challenge for the city of Las Vegas though and the more we explore it the more it does seem feasible. No city is going to check off all boxes perfectly so Vegas’ one challenge may be one the league can overcome. Because aside from ice, there’s no easier place in the world to host 12 NHL teams. From lodging to transportation to food, Vegas has it all.

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10 Comments

  1. Chris Valvo

    It’s amazing to think that 5 years ago no word of more than just preseason games being played in Vegas. Fast forward to today, Vegas can potentially be the Juggernaut for NHL “UN-Pausing”! With 3 to as many as 6 sheets of ice around the Vegas Valley all with in a stones through from where the teams would be housed.

    I’ve got to say it and us locals hate the phrase! “IT’S SO VEGAS”!

  2. Walt T

    In the contest to see which sport can screw things up the most, the horse racing world announced they will run a tainted Triple Crown this year moving around the order of the races. The Belmont goes first instead of last, and will be held in June with a mile and 1/8 distance versus the mile and 1/2 distance. The Derby goes next in September and the Preakness in October. In reality, to earn the Triple Crown, the horse is tested by running three races within six weeks, with the Belmont last and the longest. While the three races will be exciting for TV viewers, the Triple Crown will need as asterisk. Secretariat is turning over in his grave. The NHL is following along these lines, and should pack it in and reload for next year. As for the NBA…don’t care, however, to think these guys will be permitted to jump for rebounds sweating and spitting all over each other while I can’t go to church is par for the course this year.

  3. DOC Williams

    Walt’s “tainted” comments are getting old. Not worth more than that. As far as Vegas hosting a 12 team pod? Man, I still just don’t know. All those sites mentioned, that “could” have ice, most don’t have them right now. Seems like a huge obstacle to conquer in two months or so? Since we aren’t going to be able to attend games anyway, it doesn’t matter to me. But, 3-4 games a day on the T-Mobile ice, in THE summer heat, could be a concern, no?

    • Chris V.

      On some levels i agree. However I can say with certainty, it only takes a few days to reconfigure an arena to be hockey ready. I know this because me and my brother used to work at T&M “AKA” Thomas and Mac. Used to work the back to back Rebel and Thunder set up and breakdowns. As for summer heat? I believe it to be totally irrelevant in my opinion. Potentially no continuum of doors opening and closing or adjustments to accommodate fans in the stands. I think because it could potentially just be players and TV personal and other supporting staff for teams as well as venue employee’s, I believe you would have a much better shot at the Ice conditions fairing better than expected. If there is a city that can pull it of, it’s Vegas.

  4. Jake

    Somehow, I think if it’s possible to pull off an outdoor NHL game in Las Vegas in September, they can figure out how to get more sheets of ice in this city with all the empty arenas. It’s not like ice is impossible to make and no other arena in town has ever had a sheet of ice. With all the other advantages Las Vegas offers it would be foolish for the NHL not to have Vegas near the top of the list

  5. Tim

    If any city can pull it off I’d say Las Vegas could. If we added a rink at the MGM and Orleans without much trouble then why not. The hold back as we all know the hockey world hates us. We became to good to fast and the league reeks with jealousy. They can’t stand that we’ve got a great owner, management team, location in the entertainment capital of the world. Players would give there left nut to play here and that’s just a fact Jack.

  6. Jason S

    The ice sheets at the Thomas & Mack and MGM are shorter than NHL regulation rinks.

  7. Juan Merrill’s Stalker

    Why don’t they just freeze Lake Mead?

  8. Jim

    Typical Pierre Mcguire comment.
    No wonder he can’t get another GM job.
    The mindless ideas continue.
    3-4 games on same ice in one day!!??
    This isn’t a peewee hockey tournament. (But might end up being one)
    So I guess we eliminate one of the NHL’S greatest playoff traditions- the unlimited overtime if you have to be off the ice so next game can start.
    I see that happening anyways with these bozos trying to cram this thing into 2 months.
    The shootout to decide playoff games….gag me with a spoon!

  9. Chris

    Minor side note – Thomas & Mack only has room for 185′ ice surface. I guess it could be used for practice. But if that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with practicing at LVIC and Sobe Arena either. The ice on the south sheet at LVIC is trash last time I skated on it, but the north sheet and Sobe are sufficient for practice. I don’t see the point with T&M.

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