The NHL is still exploring ways to return to the regular season once the coronavirus pandemic has been quelled. Once that happens, the league could entertain the idea of returning to play at a neutral location. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet suggested in a report on Tuesday morning that North Dakota could be the perfect place to host games.
The University of North Dakota hockey teams play their games at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, North Dakota. UND’s hockey program is among one of the best in the United States. The arena has also been host to international tournaments, including the World Junior Championship and U-18 WJC. Not to poke fun at the midwestern part of the country, but North Dakota is most likely going to be a less populated area than say holding games in Chicago or New York — which is a plus.
The issue with North Dakota is more logistics than anything. How would UND house all the teams, players, officials, team personnel in such a small part of the country? It would be tough to pull off and perhaps the NHL is better served waiting out the storm until things pass. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported last week that the NBA was considering playoff games in Las Vegas. Perhaps the NHL will follow suit and host their playoffs in a neutral city. Only time will tell.