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NHL weighing options for hockey season relaunch

The NHL is considering whether it should use rinks and facilities in NHL cities or neutral locations.

The National Hockey League is mulling over how it will complete this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, the NHL is considering whether it should use rinks and facilities in NHL cities or neutral locations such as Manchester, N.H. 

“No final decisions have been made,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. 

“We’ve highlighted what the benefits would be of playing in NHL cities and the primary benefit being an NHL-ready facility. They have our standards, our technology and have all the modern accoutrements that you’d need technologically in terms of broadcasting or creating a broadcast for the game. They have a lot of built in advantages that will be attractive when it comes time to making that decision.”

Another factor to take into account is whether the area has enough hotel capacity to host the travelling teams. This is a requirement some neutral cities simply can’t meet. 

“You talk about some of the neutral sites we’ve looked at would be in smaller communities and they don’t have the same hotel capacity. It depends on what formula we come up with, who plays where and how many teams and all that stuff so there’s a lot of variables there,” said Daly. 

The NHL’s plans will be contingent on how much the coronavirus outbreak has slowed down in the chosen areas. 

According to the deputy commissioner, testing would also have to be available in order to protect the safety of the players and those involved in staging the games. 

Other things the league is taking into account is whether there are practice facilities nearby and the distance between the hotels and the arena. 

According to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, he has had discussions with the NHL to possibly host games in Edmonton, which is seen as an ideal candidate. 

“I can say that I did receive a call from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman who wanted to ask some questions about Alberta’s status in combating COVID-19,” said Kenney.

“I underscored that if there was a proposal forthcoming we would expect the league to prepare a very detailed plan to mitigate risk. I can’t really comment further, I would just say that as we get into the summer we hope to see more activity as part of our relaunch. It’s pretty clear to me if something like that were to happen we wouldn’t have large crowds gathering in arenas.”

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