By Harvey Hoffman
Edmonton is under consideration by the NHL as a hub where games could be played in a compressed timeline to complete the regular season.
Alberta premier Jason Kenney said yesterday he’d had a conversation with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who seemed to be interested in Edmonton as one potential site.
The question is:
Why would the NHL, which is desperate to save itself, pick an arena so hard to get to?
Was Wuhan not available?
The NHL paused the regular season March 12 with 189 games remaining in the regular season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I did receive a call from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who wanted to ask some questions about Alberta’s status and combating COVID,” Kenney said in Edmonton.
“There was a very general conversation. We have not received a formal proposal of any kind.
“I underscored if a proposal were forthcoming, we would obviously expect the league to prepare a very detailed plan to mitigate risk.
“It’s pretty clear to me that if something like that were to happen, we would not have large crowds gathering in arenas.
“I gather the NHL is looking at finishing the season in arenas for television purposes without large crowds. Whether or not we could accommodate that, we do not yet know.”
Under one scenario the league is mulling to finish the regular season, four NHL arenas would host three games per day without fans, Bettman told Sportsnet.
The commissioner said the league has moved away from the idea of games in non-NHL centers because NHL arenas have more locker rooms — which can be sanitized as teams move in and out — and are better equipped for technology and broadcasting equipment for television.
The NHL has extended its self-quarantine recommendations to players until April 30. Bettman says the NHL Players’ Association wants a three-week training camp before a regular season could resume.
Of Alberta’s 3,401 cases of infection, 1,310 people have recovered and 66 have died.
The province is currently restricting gatherings of people to no more than 15, and that “includes large sporting events.”
“We have very clear requirements under the public health measures currently in place,” Alberta’s chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday.
“As we look at the future and look at that re-launch, those may shift and change based on our epidemiology and where our numbers are.
“Whatever those orders are and the requirements are, we will be looking to see a proposal that lines up with those.”