Bruins

NHL looking at sites like North Dakota, New Hampshire for summer playoffs

NHL looking at sites like North Dakota, New Hampshire for summer playoffs

The NHL may be forced into some creative solutions if they want to cap off the suspended 2019-20 regular season with Stanley Cup Playoffs this summer, and those kinds of plans-on-the-fly are being assembled by the league on a daily basis.

One of the more interesting plans is to hold the playoff games at designated neutral locations across the U.S. and have multiple games played Olympics-style in those empty arenas. According to reports, Grand Forks, North Dakota and Manchester, New Hampshire are a pair of sites that have been mentioned as possibilities this summer if the NHL can push for playoff games made for television without any fans in the stands.

It’s all theoretical in nature right now, of course, and could change on a daily basis as with everything else dependent on how things play out from an all-important health standpoint.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Both North Dakota and Manchester are regular hosts in the NCAA hockey tournament, so they are at least accustomed to host larger multiple-game tournaments. That's part of what makes them ideal settings along with being lower-populated areas away from the coronavirus hot spots in the country.

There are plenty of hurdles to jump over, obviously.

All players, officials and coaches would need to be tested prior to the games being played to make certain the virus couldn’t spread and would need to essentially be quarantined for months while the playoffs roll out in these neutral sites. There is motivation to get this done, however, for multiple reasons.

The NHL obviously wants a playoff conclusion to the current season that could be ideally played out over the summer, and then plans could be made for something close to a full 2020-21 NHL regular season perhaps beginning in November.

Gary Bettman and the rest of North America’s sports commissioners and organizers sat in on a conference call with President Donald Trump over the weekend where the message seemed to be that the White House would like sports back sooner rather than later as the country aspires to get back to normalcy.

“[The sports leagues] want to get back," said Trump during a press briefing later on Saturday. "They've got to get back. They can't do this. Their sports weren't designed for it. The whole concept of our nation wasn't designed for it. We have to get back. We want to get back soon."

All that being said, the return of any sports is not going to happen unless there is massive improvement over the next month as social distancing and self-quarantining are utilized nationally to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported last weekend that the NBA is also considering its usual summer home of Las Vegas as a centralized setting for their potential playoffs this summer as well.

The good news is that there are still very vibrant, creative plans for playoff hockey this summer, so the hope is still very much alive that we’ll see NHL players doing their thing a few months from now.

Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

zdeno_chara.jpg
File photo

Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

The Boston Bruins leadership group has shown they are about more than simple lip service and social media posts when it comes to what’s been going on in this country over the last few weeks.

Patrice Bergeron made a $50,000 donation to a pair of worthy causes this week in the Boston branch of the NAACP and Centre Multiethnique de Quebec while releasing a lengthy, passionate statement through the Bruins.

B's captain Zdeno Chara was spotted in all his 6-foot-9 glory walking in Boston on Friday afternoon during one of the protests through the city streets while sporting a Bruins mask in the crowd.

None of this is a surprise as both the 43-year-old Chara and the 33-year-old Bergeron have fostered a welcoming, friendly environment in the Bruins dressing over the years. The Bruins veterans don’t even really use the word “rookie” because Chara has always believed that it creates unnecessary separation between younger and older teammates that shouldn’t exist in a team setting.

Bergeron is partially credited with helping pull a black teammate named Gemel Smith out of a mental funk that he was mired in during his time with the Bruins. Bergeron urged Smith to talk to somebody professionally when he sensed that something wasn’t quite right with his new teammate and it helped Smith turn things around personally and professionally when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Smith ended up playing just three games with the Bruins last season after being picked up on waivers, but even in that brief time Bergeron had managed to reach out and make a connection with the player that made a lasting impact. That’s exactly the kind of healthy, welcoming dressing room that’s made the Bruins a success over the years.

There isn’t a long history of black players with the Bruins in recent years as Smith, Jarome Iginla and Malcolm Subban are the only black NHLers to suit up with Boston over the last decade. So there haven't been a great deal of opportunities for Bergeron, Chara and the rest of the B’s leadership core to show just much they embrace the diversity and equal treatment for all that so many around the NHL are voicing in the days since George Floyd was horrifically killed by Minneapolis police officers.

But give full credit to both Bergeron and Chara for stepping up this week, representing the Bruins in a manner they would be proud of and showing that it’s about actions as much as -- if not more than -- words when it comes to promoting equal treatment for all, and a better tomorrow for people of all races and backgrounds.

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

The NHL has their 24-team postseason format and they’ve even drilled down on some of the specifics this week.

We still don’t know exactly when the Stanley Cup postseason can start or when NHL training camps would be going full speed ahead. Also, all of the matchups beyond the “qualifying round” are still very much in the air.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Clearly there is still plenty we don’t know about the Stanley Cup Playoffs once the NHL presses the play button in the next few months.

But we do know enough about the proposed postseason to know who will benefit, and who will be getting the short end of the stick. So that’s enough to put together the always popular winners and losers list when it comes to the new NHL postseason format. 

Click here for the gallery.