If the NHL can resume, it is kicking around the idea of playing in as many as four of the league’s arenas, with three games daily at each venue.
Gary Bettman, the league’s commissioner, outlined some ideas, which he stressed were among the many the NHL is considering, during an interview Wednesday with TSN in Canada.
The league suspended its season March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Flyers have 13 regular-season games remaining, and all teams have between 11 and 14 games left.
If the season is played at four NHL arenas, they have not been selected, Bettman said, adding that having games at just two rinks has also been discussed.
The rinks would be in cities that are not hot spots for the coronavirus, the commissioner said, and the arenas would need practice facilities “because if you bring in seven or eight teams to a particular facility and you’re playing a lot of games on a regular basis without travel, there does need to be ice for practice.”
Edmonton, Minnesota, Carolina, Dallas, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Columbus, and Toronto are among the cities that have been reported as possible sites. The Wells Fargo Center has not been contacted by the league as a possible site, a source said.
Bettman said players would need three weeks of training camp before the season resumed.
The decision on whether to resume will “ultimately be made by medical people and people who are in governments of all different levels,” Bettman said. He added that “clearly, we can play into the summer. Clearly, we can play next season, which we intend to do in its entirety, starting later.”
Bettman also said there is a chance the 2020 draft will be held in June, before the end of the regular season. That would be tricky because teams’ draft positions are usually determined by the regular season and the playoffs.
“It was a trial balloon,” Bettman said of floating the draft idea to general managers. He said he was getting lots of feedback from the general managers, and acknowledged the plan was a bit unusual but added “we don’t live in a perfect world anymore. We’re going to have to make some adjustments.”