The Florida Panthers could end up finishing the 2019-20 campaign in one of four different arenas.
The league is looking at a four-city, three games a day in each arena plan to restart the suspended campaign, which ground to a halt on March 12 due to the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic.
The four arenas will be NHL arenas, no more neutral sites are under consideration, and might not be divisionally-based, meaning that the Panthers could end up playing its season out in a rink that doesn’t house an Atlantic Division team.
Raleigh, North Carolina, St. Paul, Minnesota and Edmonton, Alberta are reportedly three of the early candidates being considered to hold games, most likely without any fans at all in attendance.
Obviously, the NHL is looking at arenas in locations that aren’t coronavirus hot spots and have what the league requires in terms of both the arena and the practice facilities.
Anaheim would be a great place to add to this list, but conditions in the state of California would seem to rule it at moment, especially with governor Gavin Newsom seemingly not too keen on the idea of professional sports at the moment.
Holding the NHL Entry Draft in June before the 2019-20 season ends is still a possibility. Mechanisms would need to be put in place to prevent the same team from winning the draft lottery and the Stanley Cup if the playoffs are expanded to 20 or 24 teams. Depending on how the remainder of the regular season and playoffs play out, There also might need to be a methodology put in place to deal with prior trades made that have conditions attached to them.
If the NHL is going to hold the draft before playing anymore games, then I think it might want to consider limiting the draft lottery to the teams that realistically have no chance of making the playoffs. Maybe five or seven teams. That’s just my take on it.
Interesting times indeed. Hopefully conditions change enough to allow the league to pull this off safely. We could all use some hockey to follow right now.