Cities and venues across North America have reached out to the NHL to pitch themselves as potential hosts for neutral-site playoff games, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN on Friday.
“We do have people putting together the comprehensive laundry list of what we would need from facilities and evaluating some facilities on some level,” Daly said. “But I can’t tell you we’ve even finished creating a list [of potential sites], much less narrowed it down.”
The NHL would be willing to play games without fans at neutral sites if that’s what it takes to finish the season, after pausing it March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
“I’d say it’s one possibility, for sure, and it’s something that has been considered and something that has been discussed,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Friday. “It’s not our preferred result or outcome.”
Daly said officials have begun creating lists of what they would need, as they are for other possibilities.
“Our goal is to be as prepared as we possibly can be for any eventuality and to be able to react to the situation on very little notice to kind of set a course,” he said. “But at this point, it continues to be premature to set that course.”
According to ESPN, among the reported possible locations for neutral-site games, which would likely be held in empty arenas, are Grand Forks, North Dakota; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. But Daly said the NHL hasn’t even “created the field yet” in determining which sites would work.
Daly also reiterated that there is no current target date for the NHL with regard to making a decision regarding completing the 2019-2020 regular season.
“We’re just starting to get our minds around that,” Daly said. “It’s kind of a combination of things, like when we can start a regular season [in 2020-21] and how much time we need for an offseason, and then what does the playoff format look like, in terms of knowing what you need to have a a regular season.”
Daley also shed some light on potential playoff framework.
“I would say that a best-of-one is not something we would ever go to,” Daly said. “I’ve always had the caveat that everything is on the table and nothing is out of the question. I would say there would be a strong opposition to ever creating a playoff where it was a single elimination. I think best-of-three is more possible, not preferred, but more possible than a best-of-one scenario.”