Like its playing surface, the National Hockey League is frozen, halted in place with teams about a dozen games away from completing the regular season.
Through 69 (niiiice) games, the Minnesota Wild are sitting on 77 points, 10th in the Western Conference and easily within striking distance of a wild card spot if they close out strongly. That is, if they even get that chance.
There's some good news, though: Rumor has it the Wild might be playing all those games on their home ice. The bad news is you, non-essential hockey person, would stil have to watch it from home.
ESPN reports on NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's interview with Sportsnet, where he discussed a tentative plan to restart league play at some point. Under the scheme discussed, which "presumes there wouldn't be fans in the building," Bettman says, teams would gather in a small number of cities -- maybe four, maybe just two -- to finish off the balances of their schedule.
Arenas in those cities would host up to three games a day, which means they'd need at least four "NHL-caliber locker rooms," and a practice facility.?
Added Bettman: "The particular location can be anywhere that isn't a hot spot [for coronavirus]."?
Kinda sounds like St. Paul, Minnesota, doesn't it? Citing league sources, ESPN says the Wild (along with the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes) are "early favorites" as a potential host team.
It's not much to go on, but it's been more than a month since anyone saw a live game of any kind, so you might as well inject this rumor into your veins, sports fans. This greatly increases the chances of you seeing a real-life hockey star on the street and having him yell "Stay the hell away from me!" right to your face. You might even get hit by a stick!
Decisions about teams regrouping for a three-week training camp, let alone competitive games, would be made in consultation?with "medical people and people who are in governments at all different levels," Bettman says.
This idea of a weird little fan-free mini-season is actually the optimistic scenario. The pessimistic one? Canceling the rest of the regular season, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and crossing gloved fingers in hopes conditions are better by October, when the 2020-21 season is scheduled to start.
And if you need a reminder of why this would be cool, here, courtesy the NHL, are the Wild's top 10 plays so far this season: