Like many leagues, the NHL was forced to stop the season in March due to a coronavirus pandemic. A month later, the league and the NHL Players Association threw an idea about how to save the rest of the season. According to Elliotte Friedman from Sportsnet, that is a possibility finish the rest of the 2019-20 season in North Dakota.
Some places will be needed for NHL to hold the rest of the season in North Dakota and Friedman shows that the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks could be an option. This is a facility of 11,640 seats that will give the NHL plenty of room to operate. It should be noted that the capacity may not be too big of a deal in this scenario, because it is not clear whether fans will be allowed to attend the match if the league continues to play at some point this season.
Ralph Engelstad Arena does have a history of holding several major hockey events. It hosts the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 U-18 World Championships and is home to the University of North Dakota hockey team.
Friedman writes that nothing is happening right now and North Dakota is one of several hypothetical scenarios that might be discussed by the league. And even if they complete a scenario at the specified location, finding a place is only the first obstacle for any kind of plan to proceed. The league also needs to think about travel, hotel accommodations, and more.
If the season continues, both the NHL and the players must agree to all terms – including location.
At the time of writing, North Dakota had 207 confirmed COVID-19 cases and three people had died of the virus. Only two states – Wyoming and Alaska – have fewer confirmed cases.
NHL suspended playback again on March 12. They did it soon after The NBA postponed their season and announced that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the corona virus.
It is unclear what NHL plans to complete the regular season. Some teams are on several points with each other and obviously will have plenty of time to catch up if the season is not delayed prematurely.
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