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WWYDW(TE): Neutral Site Games

Seeing as the National Hockey League is coming up with neutral site scenarios as a means of finishing up the 2019-20 season, I felt like we should all join in the discussion on where these games might get played. With that in mind, this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Tuesday Edition) dives into the land of logistics as we try to decide where is the most likely place the NHL could safely accomplish their goal of resuming play and awarding the Stanley Cup.

Last week, NHL Deputy Commissioner, Bill Daly, reiterated the league’s desire to resume play provided that they can safely get back on the ice, and if that’s ever going to happen, everyone involved is going to have to think outside the box to find a solution for how that gets done. Let’s be honest, finding neutral sites to reach some kind of conclusion for the season they started back in October comes with a laundry list of hurdles that I’m not going to get into right now, but the list is extensive to say the least.

According to Daly:

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“I can say that we’ve been consistent and remain of the view that we want to play if we can. We want to conclude the ’19-20 season if we can. I think the players strongly are aligned in that view, which is a positive. I haven’t got a sense from anybody in any of my interactions with the Players’ Association that any player wants to pull the plug on the season, unless and until the health authorities tell us we have to pull the plug on the season. That continues to be our sole objective.”

To state the obvious, if the NHL is going to get this done — there’s a big, massive, ugly ‘if’ in there — then they’re going to need to find a location or two or three that can accommodate a lot of players, games, staff, and has the infrastructure available to handle the league’s needs. On Monday, Cam Lewis wrote about North Dakota being on the radar after Elliotte Friedman mentioned Ralph Engelstad Arena as a possible option.

According to Elliotte Friedman, the NHL and the Players’ Association are discussing scenarios in which the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule and playoffs can be played in neutral locations. One name being thrown out there is the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota, home of the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.

The Ralph Engelstad Arena, which housed the 2005 World Juniors, is regarded as the best non-NHL stadium out there. Many even suggest it’s a superior facility to a handful of rinks operating in the league right now. I guess it’s known as the “Taj Mahal of Hockey” for a reason.

On Friday’s Oilersnation Radio, Tyler Yaremchuk suggested that Edmonton might actually be a good host city because of the fact that Rogers Place has both the main sheet and the community rink, which are both NHL sized with access to multiple dressing rooms and a hotel. I mean, if no one is watching in stands and all they need is space for the teams and TV cameras, what does it matter if you play in the big room or the small one?

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Maybe the NHL looks at multiple cities where the teams within every division play out of a specified location? Maybe the owners build a Dr. Evil style bunker in the centre of a volcano that is only accessible by Connor McDavid eye scan, preventing any outsiders from getting anywhere close to the players or coaches? Maybe the barn that was meant for the Brian Burke versus Kevin Lowe bare-knuckle fistfight finally gets called in for action? As you can see, I have an endless supply of excellent ideas, but I want to know what you think.

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s pretend that the NHL is able to come back to have some kind of end to the 2019-20 season, but they need to find a location or locations that will work to make this done. In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday (Tuesday Edition), I want to know which spot(s) you think might work to accomplish the goal of finishing up the NHL season? I also want to know why you think that spot would be a good one. Remember, we’re walking through the wardrobe and into imagination on this idea, but I thought it could make for a fun discussion anyway.  What do you think, Nation?

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