Just about every NHL fan would agree to whatever plan gets hockey back on their TV the soonest, can best make up for the original regular season and postseason schedule, and will produce a fair and valid playoffs and champion. However, it’s doubtful that anyone figured that the best way to resume the season could be to send teams to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Yet, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman writes that the college hockey hotbed has been discussed as a possible ideal location for a neutral site continuation of the NHL season.
Friedman stresses that any plan for re-starting the season is only speculation at this point, but that non-NHL locations for neutral sit games seems like a possible outcome. Whether the regular season resumes as scheduled or if there is some sort of abbreviated schedule or play-in tournament, travel time could be cut back by having teams in just a few locations and neutrality removes any undue benefit to a home team. If games proceed without any fans, another distinct possibility, a location like Grand Forks also makes sense given it houses a world-class facility minus the capacity of an NHL rink. Friedman also notes that the low population density of North Dakota could make it one of safer places to continue play without an increased risk of Coronavirus exposure, while the cold climate could mitigate the ice quality risks of summer play.
Again, nothing is imminent in terms of when and how the NHL will resume play, if they do at all, and that is not expected to change for at least another month or two. Once the league comes up with a suitable plan, the players will have to agree to the terms as well. So, for now the NHL and NHLPA are exploring their options, both in format and locale, for the day we all hope arrives when hockey can return.