The National Hockey League and its player association are discussing the possibility of closing out the 2019-20 season in a neutral site location.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, one such site being discussed is the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota — home of the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
The arena that was home to the 2005 World Junior championships is regarded as one of the best non-NHL hockey stadiums in the world.
Obviously, nothing is imminent. Hotel availability in Grand Forks would be a challenge. We also don’t know about travel scenarios, necessary logistics, or if the state itself would be willing to host such an event. But the area makes sense because of the arena, the likelihood of games being played without fans and North Dakota’s relatively low population density (only Montana, Wyoming and Alaska have fewer people per square mile).
The NBA has been considering playing its playoff games in Las Vegas, while reports state the Premier League has a tentative agreement to play games behind closed doors in June.
Whatever happens for the NHL, the players association and league need to agree on any return-to-play scenarios, Friedman noted, adding players are concerned about the potential of 35 per cent escrow on future paycheques.
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