For the past couple of weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about neutral sites like North Dakota being in play as a means of getting the NHL back up and running, but based on the latest article from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, that idea appears to have reached the end of the road.
According to reports that are circulating on Twitter right now and the interview given by the NHLPA’s Donald Fehr earlier this week, the idea of neutral sites never really got much further than the initial idea stage because of the insurmountable hurdles that would have to be cleared for the concept to move forward. From logistics to infrastructure to accommodations to TV scheduling, having a single neutral site like North Dakota was just too good to be true. As much as it would have been kinda neat to have all of these NHLers in an Olympic Village type of situation, this bird was just never meant to fly. So what comes next?
The neutral-sites idea looks like a no-go.
Instead, we’re looking at one NHL city per division to resume the season. Teams from that division would be brought to this location. And, it sounds like the plan is to complete the regular season — if possible. One idea, a triple-header per day at each location to get it done in three weeks. The players have to agree.
Looking at the CDC and Canadian information, I could see places like Edmonton, Minnesota and Raleigh being options if the league and the respective governments were willing.
A couple of days ago, Cam Lewis put together an in-depth look at why Edmonton might actually be a realistic location for the NHL to get back up and running, so it was interesting to see Friedman also speculate that our city could actually be in the mix. As I was putting this article together, I read as much as I could from any hockey reporters I found that were talking about it, and the latest idea seems to be for the NHL to return to a shortlist of arenas in cities where the Coronavirus outbreak has been minimalized as much as possible. It also seems like the league wants to have a single arena per division with Edmonton, Raleigh, and Minnesota being some of the cities thrown around right now.
Now, it goes without saying that this latest plan also has a laundry list of issues to sort through, including but not limited to the safety of players, the community, and whether or not the local governments would even allow such a thing to take place, but I do still appreciate that the league is trying to find a way to make it work. Then again, according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, the NHL is set to lose at least $1 billion should they not be able to get back on the ice, so I’m going to go ahead and guess that we’ll continue to hear about new schemes and ideas for resuming play as long as this pandemic goes on for. We wait…