Last week it was reported that the NBA was discussing neutral sites in which to house teams and play out the remainder of the season. Las Vegas was mentioned along with Atlantic City and some other locales.
Apparently the NHL is having those internal conversations as well, and one spot that came up was the place that brought us Carson Wentz and Dave Hakstol.
One location that’s been mentioned: North Dakota.
Several sites would be necessary, but Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D., makes sense. Host of the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18s and the NCAA’s Fighting Hawks, it is an impressive facility that is definitely more suitable than many other available non-NHL options in the United States.
Obviously, nothing is imminent. Hotel availability in Grand Forks would be a challenge. We also don’t know about travel scenarios, necessary logistics, or if the state itself would be willing to host such an event. But the area makes sense because of the arena, the likelihood of games being played without fans and North Dakota’s relatively low population density (only Montana, Wyoming and Alaska have fewer people per square mile).
It is expected that the NHL and NHLPA will discuss other locales this week.
Ralph Engelstad Arena, eh? That’s where Hakstol coached the Fighting Hawks for the 11 years. The “Ralph” actually holds 11,600 people, which is pretty big for a college hockey venue.
52,000 people live in Grand Forks, which is about the size of Lancaster. I’ve never been, but Google Maps shows a nice biking and running path on the Red River. There’s a place called the “Columbia Mall,” which I’m sure is closed, but they have a Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread, and Olive Garden that could be open for takeout. Sounds like an exciting time.
And if you wanted to loop in other cities, Fargo is about 90 minutes south while Bismarck is five hours to the west. It’s not ideal, but it’s something. NHL in North Dakota sounds good to me. Let’s do it.