The NHL will keep all options open as they evaluate the next steps for a potential return to play. The league has been on pause for nearly a month due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A return to action is not in the cards in the near future. The league has asked teams for building availability in July and August, however.
The NHL and NHLPA are keeping all options open as they try to finish the 2019-20 regular season and play the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The most recent option was revealed on Sunday night. Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman reported that North Dakota could be an option for games should the NHL return. Grand Forks was the city that Friedman mentioned.
Ralph Engelstad Arena, per the report, could serve as the main site in North Dakota. The Arena played host to the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18s and is home to the NCAA’s Fighting Hawks.
“Obviously, nothing is imminent,” Friedman wrote. “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.”
NHL reporter John Shannon floated a second city on Monday. According to Shannon, Manchester, New Hampshire is also on the NHL’s radar as a possible return site.
SNHU Arena would be the likely venue should the NHL play in Manchester. The arena, built in 2001, served as the home of the now-defunct Manchester Monarchs of the AHL (2001-15). The ECHL Monarchs also played in the building (2015-19), and a few Boston Bruins preseason games have taken place there.
SNHU Arena has also hosted the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey tournament as a regional site eight times, most recently in 2019.