NHL looking at July return: Panthers president

The BB&T Center, home of the Florida Panthers. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

By Joe Pantorno 

Florida Panthers president Matt Caldwell told Fox Sports Radio 640 on Wednesday that the NHL is looking at a return to action in July (h/t Andy Slater), approximately four months after the season was forced to halt play due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Caldwell revealed that the plan includes the option of playing games at four or five neutral sites with limited or no fans in attendance. 

Nothing has been finalized as of yet, including a potential return date. 

The NHL was forced to postpone its regular season on March 12 with its teams needing approximately 11 to 13 games remaining before the postseason. 

There has been no decision on whether or not hockey will return to the regular season or immediately begin its playoffs — a difficult task considering the uneven amount of games the teams have played. 

Upon initial ideas tabled, North Dakota was first put forward as a possible neutral site for the NHL to descend upon. The Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks hosted the 2005 World Junior Championships, the 2016 World Under-18 tournament, and the NCAA’s University of North Dakota Division I men’s hockey team. 

The lack of momentum built, however, suggests that the idea has been abandoned. 

Caldwell’s comments come shortly after Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that there would be one host city for each of the four NHL divisions. Each arena would host one triple-header per day until the regular season is completed. 

This story first appeared on amNY.com

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