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NHL: Will the season wrap up in North Dakota?

Let’s preface this with the fact that, at this time, we’re all just guessing at return-to-play timelines — but the NHL and NHLPA are beginning to spitball scenarios as to where remaining 2019-20 regular-season/playoff games could be held. 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).

SPORTSNET
Photo/REA

I know nothing is official and we won’t be getting any concrete details until at least the end of this month but boy does it feel good to finally hear something about the NHL. Ralph Engelstad Arena is one of the most beautiful facilities on this side of the Mississippi. I would go as far as saying that it is nicer than a handful of NHL arenas. Opened in 2001, it has hosted a handful of notable events like the ones mentioned above but it has also been maintained very well. Most recently in June of 2019, they debuted a $6 million scoreboard and along with that came an LED ribbon display around the entire facility.

This morning there has also been talk of hosting games in Manchester, New Hampshire. There are so many logistic questions that need to be answered but the NHL has nothing but time to work on finding a solution. No chance they will be allowing fans to be in attendance but being able to watch games again brings more joy to my life. All that is left to do now is wait. We’ll see you soon sports.

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