One idea of restarting the season involves keeping play to specific cities. Could the Carolina Hurricanes and the city of Raleigh play host to the Metro Division?
Summer Hockey could be coming soon. To be fair, any hockey would be amazing at this point. It has been well over a month since any NHL action has happened and it might be another month or two before we see the Carolina Hurricanes in action again. But as the league plans on how to return to playing, one idea has popped up more than once.
That idea is to limit play from the 32 arenas across the league down to just two to four. Ideally one for each division. The idea is that each arena would host the entire division as a semi-neutral site for the remainder of the season as well as play “home ice” to these teams during the playoffs. But with the density of some cities in certain divisions, sharing between divisions may need to happen.
It’s not a bad idea. The only issue is that I cannot see them opening the doors to fans. But it would allow for easy staging and televising of games, which would be the most important factor for these teams since 87% of the league will be playing away from home.
So who are the lucky cities that will get to see some NHL action, albeit from the safety of their homes? It would have to be where COVID has been not only managed but also well restricted. With entire teams moving to these cities for a temporary time, it would need to be a place the players can also be safe from the ravaging hoards of
These cities have to be a mix of being large enough to accommodate the additional teams but small enough that the COVID outbreak has been easily managed.
According to Emily Kaplan, ESPN reporter, Raleigh, Minnesota, and Edmonton are favorites to host their respective divisions for this sort of deal to happen with the Atlantic Division still up in the air.
Everyone wants to finish the season. The players don’t want to jump into the playoffs, even if that means getting a few exhibition games to feel out the skates again. Now with borders closed to the US, things can get tricky. Not only for the teams traveling but also for the players who moved back to their home nations regardless of where they are.
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The Atlantic Division is also a tricky beast. Toronto, Boston, Detroit, and Montreal are too big to play host. Buffalo is too close to the New York epicenter of this disease. The Florida Teams are in the middle of a possibly costly experiment into reopening a state. The league is wary of all of these options. That leaves Ottowa or another NHL city that would pull double duty.
Ottowa, however, may be too small to play host to the other seven teams in the league. That could mean that Raleigh may be forced to host the entire eastern conference. That would make the playoffs easier to manage as PNC plays host to two games a day through the first round. It would sure help the Carolina Hurricanes pay their bills for the upcoming future that is for sure.
But it would also put Raleigh, North Carolina as the epicenter of the eastern conference of the NHL. Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Artemi Panarin, PK Subban, Claude Giroux, and Sebastian Aho would all be playing in the same city. If Raleigh is asked to pull double duty you can add names like Auston Matthews, Zdeno Chara, Jack Eichel, and Victor Hedman. Wild.
This is all speculation, for now, based on small reporting and even smaller chances. A lot needs to happen before we can get hockey back again, even in just a televised manner. But it is something that is better than nothing.
Question For CC Readers: What do you think is a proper way to restart the season?