Those hoping to see NHL regular season or playoff games at neutral sites such as Grand Forks, North Dakota or New Hampshire are going to be disappointed. During an interview with Sportsnet on Wednesday Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league has moved away from that idea, preferring their own equipped arenas.
“We can’t play in a small college rink in the middle of a smaller community, because if we’re going to be centralized, we need the back of the house that NHL arenas provide, whether it’s multiple locker rooms, whether it’s the technology, the procedures, the boards and glass, the video replay, the broadcasting facilities,” Bettman told Ron MacLean.
In this model, there could be multiple NHL games in one arena per day (how fun would that be?), meaning the league would need a number of locker rooms for players — something smaller rinks can’t provide.
Of course, this one of a number of models the league needs to draw up to prepare for resumption of play. Bettman added it might end up being two rinks when it all shakes out. He did add that divisions may be centralized, which, if we’re talking regular season, would require schedules being remade.
On the topic of holding the draft in June before the 2019-20 season would be over, Bettman said no decision has been made and the league was open to feedback.
“Ideally from our standpoint — and it would resolve a lot of issues — would be if we could complete the regular season, even if it’s on a centralized basis, and then go into the [playoffs] the way we normally play them,” he said. “That would be ideal. But that’s, again, one of the numerous models we’re looking at, and if we can’t do ideal, if we can’t do perfect, we’re going to have to figure out what’s next to perfect.”