The National Hockey League has been adamant regarding their desire to resume the 2019 - 2020 NHL regular season in spite of the fact that it seems like the vast majority of hockey fans have seemingly lost hope of that ever becoming a reality at this point. I must admit that for a while there I would have included myself in the latter category, however as more and more dominos fall into place it does seem as though the NHL is very much moving towards a future in which they will in fact resume the season.
The latest bit of news comes directly from a rather influential government official, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, a man who will likely have the final word when it comes to NHL games potentially being played in Calgary, Edmonton, or any other city in the province of Alberta. Kenney spoke with Postmedia this week and confirmed to them that he has in fact already spoken to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about the possibility of playing in Edmonton, one of the locations that has been rumored to be a potential neutral site for the NHL. Although Kenney admitted that the talks were in the early stages, he also hinted at the fact that the league's plans could fit in with Edmonton's own plans to relaunch later this year.
"He wanted to ask some questions about Alberta’s status in combating COVID," said Kenney as per Postmedia. "There was some very general conversation. We have not received a formal proposal of any kind. I underscored that if a proposal were forthcoming we would obviously expect the league to prepare a very detailed plan to mitigate risk."
"Obviously as we get into the summer we hope to be able to see somewhat more activity as part of our relaunch. It’s pretty clear to me that if something like that were to happen we would not have large crowds gathering in arenas. But I gathered the NHL was looking at finishing the season in arenas for television purposes without large crowds .Whether or not we could accommodate that we do not yet know. We have not yet received a formal request and obviously we would turn to the chief medical officer for her advice."
Edmonton is currently looking at 0.92 cases per million citizens at the time of this writing, the lowest by far of any city that can offer the type of facilities that Edmonton as at its disposal. No doubt it remains one of the favorites to host neutral games for the NHL, and when you consider that the Canadian dollar is currently at $0.71 it would also likely be one of the most economic for the NHL. Kenney obviously hedged his bets when making his comments, but it sounds to me like he is at least open to the idea of the NHL resuming its season in Edmonton, and likely also very interested in the economic benefit it could provide one of the major cities in his province.