If the NHL is to return this summer, Edmonton will likely be the hub of all Pacific Division action. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reported on Wednesday that the NHL is now looking to ‘regional sites’ to resume the season. The neutral site idea, which included New Hampshire and North Dakota, is dead.
Edmonton (Pacific), Minnesota (Central) and Raleigh, North Carolina (Metro) are the frontrunner sites as of now. No Atlantic Division location has emerged as a target as of right now. Toronto has banned events through June 30th, while Boston is currently a dangerous hot spot, according to the White House.
Andy Slater of Fox Sports 640 in Miami started the rumor mill this morning when he reported that the NHL was gearing up for a July restart to the 2019-20 season. He also reported that games would be played at different sites with limited or no fans in the building.
JUST IN: NHL looking at restarting season in July.— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) April 22, 2020
Games would be played at 4 or 5 neutral sites with limited or no fans, according to Florida Panthers president Matt Caldwell.
On the conference call, he said this plan is not finalized.
Edmonton has actually fared quite well with the COVID-19 outbreak, especially when compared to other cities around the NHL. Edmonton has just 446 confirmed cases in their zone. They also have suffered just nine deaths from the virus at this point, according to the Alberta Government.
Comparatively, Calgary has been ravaged by the virus. The city has 2,204 confirmed cases and 41 deaths to this point. Numbers are reflective of April 21, 2020.
“The players right now are all quarantined. I know for the NHL, our players are quarantined through the end of April, and that will probably be extended into May,” Florida Panthers President and CEO Matthew Caldwell said on Tuesday.
“But when we are able to come out of the quarantine period, players are going to need time to work out. I think all leagues are thinking about some training camp that we would do before the start of the season,” Caldwell continued on a Re-Open Florida Task Force conference call.
More details as they emerge, but it certainly seems like the NHL is expecting to be back on the ice playing games in roughly three months time.