The NHL is considering a plan to finish its regular season by playing multiple games in as many as four arenas without fans present, commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday.
In an interview with Canada's Sportsnet, Bettman said the proposal is one of several the league is considering, but stressed the number of cities and the locations have not been decided. However, he said the arenas would have to be ones currently used by NHL teams and have four different locker rooms in order to play up to three games in one day.
"Ideally from our standpoint — and it would resolve a lot of issues — would be if we could complete the regular season, even if it's on a centralized basis, and then go into the (Stanley Cup playoffs) the way we normally play them," Bettman said.
The NHL suspended play on March 12 due to coronavirus concerns and has recommended all teams and staff self-quarantine through April 30. Should the league get the go-ahead to start preparing to play again, Bettman said players expect to need about three weeks of conditioning before they're ready to return.
In the meantime, the league has also floated the idea to general managers of holding the 2020 NHL draft in June before the season ends.
"You've got to look at all of the options, balance them and try to make a good judgment, and we're doing it with the feedback from our clubs, obviously," Bettman said.
"With a lot of timing options, we have a great deal of flexibility, and we're not going to rush anything. We're not going to do anything that's crazy. We're going to try and do something, under the circumstances at the time, that is sensible."
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