If the NHL and the New York Rangers want to return to action, they may want to look at some of the ideas that the NBA is floating. As COVID-19 lingers, it is becoming apparent that the bigger metro areas may not be able to stage sporting events, even if fans are not permitted. For example, the city of Toronto on Tuesday banned all “city-led and permitted” events through June 30. A spokesman for Mayor John Tory later told reporters that the ban does not apply to sports events, but the province of Ontario has “banned organized public events and social gatherings of more than (five) people.” This is just one example of the difficulty that all professional sports organizations are facing as they try to resume or start their seasons.
What the NHL and the New York Rangers can learn from the NBA
Recent reports have stated that the NBA is considering clustering teams to play games in locations such as the Bahamas and Las Vegas. While of course, that won’t work too well for the NBA, the NHL can consider the same idea in locations that can provide rinks and facilities to handle clusters of teams. Single city locations and a cluster of a few cities allow leagues some flexibility. Holding all games in a single city, or a small group of cities allows the leagues to play within the confines of quarantine and eliminates the need for travel and the hurdles that come with the need to comply with different cities’ restrictions and regulations when it comes to the necessary pandemic response. Recent reports have the NBA looking toward a single city option, using Las Vegas and casino hotels as a way to house players and employees. But of course, putting down a basketball court is much easier than creating ice hockey rinks. One of the ideas that the NBA has considered could work well for the NHL. The NBA had considered “taking over” some college campuses in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment. This could work for the NHL as states such as North Dakota and South Dakota do not have severe “stay-at-home” restrictions like other parts of the country have. These states also have nice size colleges and hockey facilities that could host one or more clusters of teams to play.
Hopefully, all leagues, including the NHL, will leave no stone unturned in an attempt to safely resume seasons and help us get back to some sort of normalcy.