Coronavirus: NHL envisions neutral host sites to play fanless games


The National Hockey League listens to offers from sites across North America who volunteer to host playoff games on a neutral site. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly discussed the proposals with ESPN on Friday.

The NHL season, like that of all the major North American sports leagues, was interrupted in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We have people who list the full equipment we would need at the facilities and assess certain facilities at a certain level,” Daly told ESPN. “But I can’t tell you that we have even finished creating a list (of potential sites), even less limited. “

Among the sites that could host games, possibly without fans in the stands, are Grand Forks, North Dakota, the report said; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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No neutral site has yet been verified by the NHL, according to Daly.

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Other leagues would suspect the viability of resuming on neutral sites in the absence of fans. The Bahamas and Las Vegas have been mentioned as possible venues for NBA games, and Major League Baseball is reportedly considering plans to restart action at spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida.

Sports bars and pubs concerned about COVID-19

Sports bars and pubs concerned about COVID-19

All NHL teams still had between 11 and 14 regular season games on stoppage. The format to be used when and if action resumes remains unclear.

“We are just starting to get an idea,” Daly told ESPN. “It’s sort of a combination of things, like when we can start a regular season (in 2020-21) and how much time we need for an offseason, then what the playoff format looks like, in terms of knowing what you need to have a regular season. “

“I would say a best-of-one (playoff format) is not something we would ever go to. I’ve always had the caveat that everything is on the table and nothing is out of the question.

“I would say there would be strong opposition to never creating a playoff where it was only one elimination. I think the best of the three is more possible, not preferred, but more possible than a better scenario. “

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Daly said the league would listen to medical experts on potential decisions such as allowing family members to join the players if a neutral site template is adopted.

Eight NHL players are known to have tested positive for COVID-19, five members of the Ottawa Senators and three members of the Colorado Avalanche. All affected senators had no symptoms on Wednesday, according to coach D.J. Forgeron.

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