NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is not ruling anything out when it comes to resuming and completing the 2020 season. He has confirmed the exploration of playing into August and insiders have reported a myriad of other possibilities on the table to bring hockey back.
Now, Bettman is offering insight into a new contingency plan in the works: a four-arena plan. The commissioner confirmed the league is eyeing multiple arenas to restart operations in an interview with Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean.
“I’ve read in the paper that [the NBA is] looking at one location. Among the scenarios we’re looking at is potentially as many as four because we need a lot of ice,” Bettman said, before denying rumors that the season would resume at a neutral site, such as North Dakota or New Hampshire. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr also brushed off that reported contingency plan by telling reporters the league and players union had not yet discussed possible locations.
“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,” the commissioner added. “Whether it’s multiple locker rooms, whether it’s the technology, the procedures, the boards and glass, the video replay, the broadcasting facilities. Those are the things that are in place in NHL arenas and that’s what we’re going to ultimately need if we’re gonna come back in a centralized basis and play multiple games a day.”
Among the possible contenders to host the remainder of the season are the home venues of the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild and Edmonton Oilers, ESPN reports. Arena capacity is one factor that is effectively ruled out as Bettman added that the league’s decisions presume games will restart without fans in attendance. With so many unknowns still at play, Bettman is staying focused on the health and safety of the teams first and foremost.
“Anything we’re considering doing starts with health and well-being, whether it’s the players or other personnel or fans or the community at large. Everybody is going through a tough time. We’re hopeful that by doing the right things in the short term that we’re able to come back and hopefully complete this season on some basis that is fair and has integrity.”