NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr on neutral-site games: ‘we haven’t had those discussions yet’


As the NHL and its union look to resume play following the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the options they’re considering is holding the Stanley Cup Playoffs in neutral sites to contain the spread of the virus. But, according to ESPN, those discussions haven’t gone far.

 “Other than the general understanding that they’re looking at all possibilities, which includes neutral sites – neutral being defined as a place that isn’t a home base for an NHL team,” NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr told ESPN Saturday. “We haven’t had those discussions yet.”

Locations such as North Dakota and New Hampshire are among many in North America vying for the NHL‘s business. However, Fehr says finding a venue is the first of many steps required to resume the season. Fehr told ESPN the league needs a “green light” from the venue’s state and local governments before it resumes its season, which suspended March 12.

“You’re going to want to know what the CDC says, without any question at all. But in addition to that, as we all know, the state governors and the provincial prime ministers have the basic responsibilities over their own jurisdictions, so you’re going to have to work with them too,” Fehr said.

That work won’t be easy. 557 NHL players, nearly half the league’s talent pool, hail from countries outside North America, per Quant Hockey. That creates two legal issues: whether the players’ respective countries will allow them to fly, and if the state and local governments of the selected North American city (or cities) will accept the risk their cross-continent travels present.

“Obviously, it would seem to me that the governors or the prime ministers of any such locations, for them to be interested, would have first and foremost in their mind the health and safety of their own residents,” Fehr added.

Wherever the league decides to resume play – if that happens at all – it is going to be patient in resolving such issues. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this month he’s willing to hold games “well into the summer” to ensure the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. 





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