NHL receiving neutral-site playoff site pitches from cities and venues across North America

Cities and venues across North America are contacting the National Hockey League about hosting neutral-site playoff games, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.

“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 told ESPN. “But I can’t tell you we’ve even finished creating a list (of potential sites), much less narrowed it down.”

The reported possible locations for neutral-site playoff games, which would likely be held without fans, include Grand Forks, North Dakota; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

After the NHL suspended the season on March 12 due to the concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL said their objective — if they are able to restart the 2019-20 season — is to finish out the regular season and hold a playoff tournament. At the time of the season suspension, there were 189 regular season games remaining in the NHL’s schedule, with the final day of the season scheduled for April 4. The NHL playoffs were set to start on April 8.

Daly told ESPN there is not a deadline for when the NHL wants to decide if there will be enough time to play regular-season games before the start of the playoffs. But, there is still the looming possibility that the season may have to be canceled altogether.

“We’re just starting to get our minds around that,” Daly told ESPN. “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 regular season.”

“From our perspective, the paramount consideration here is what is safe and is going to protect the health and well-being of our players and obviously the general public. It may not be on the calendar a real long way away, but it is on a decision tree, a real long way away.”

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