Sports leagues are itching to resume their leagues and while we still don’t know when it’ll be safe to have games again, it doesn’t hurt to get some ideas together and adjust accordingly.
The NHL was considering finishing the rest of their season in a neutral location like South Dakota or New Hampshire where every team would play. That idea didn’t get too far as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski report that the neutral site idea isn’t happening for a variety of reasons including a “lack of accommodations, and challenges in staging and televising games.”
Confirming @FriedgeHNIC report that the NHL's "neutral site" (i.e. non-NHL arena) plan for summer restart is dead. No North Dakota. No New Hampshire.
Plan never got out of the concept stages due to lack of accommodations, and challenges in staging and televising games.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 22, 2020
Any neutral location would naturally run into issues like that because it takes a lot of hockey rinks in that area for 31 teams to be able to finish up the final 189 regular season games in addition to the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s a reason why an Olympics host city has to plan things out years in advance. Because it’s a logistical challenge.
Instead, Wyshynski reported that the NHL is thinking about going to 2-4 NHL arenas but there’s no timetable on when the season would resume. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan revealed that the favorites to potentially host games would be Raleigh, North Carolina (Metropolitan), St. Paul, Minnesota (Central), Edmonton, Alberta (Pacific), and an unknown city from the Atlantic Division.
Hearing the favorites are Raleigh, Minnesota, Edmonton and TBD in the Atlantic Division https://t.co/ZbiIXDycHQ
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) April 22, 2020
It’s still early and even though there’s a bunch to figure out between now and actually playing the games, splitting things up in multiple places at least keeps down the number of people who need to be at the same place at the same time. That alone makes it a more realistic plan than most ideas floating around.
Having said that, it’s still going to be tough to work out and no one really knows when we’ll be able to resume sports. It’s great for leagues to be prepared but being able to implement the plans they come up with is something else entirely. Surely, there will be more updates from the NHL about their rest-of-season plans.