NHL and NHLPA accelerate plans, give hockey fans a glimmer of hope

Some very positive developments from the NHL today.

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The NHL is coming back. When, where and how? Well… we don’t know yet. We’re not even sure if the NHL knows yet. But, the fact is that all indications are the league is planning to resume the 2019-20 season at some point this spring with hopes to hand out the Stanley Cup later in the summer.

A variety of scenarios are in consideration by the NHL and NHLPA  with the most likely seemingly to have teams congregate in “neutral site” cities to play out the stretch and the Stanley Cup Playoffs in front of empty crowds. In fact, British Columbia premier John Horgan has started discussions with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about hosting NHL games in Vancouver as soon as possible.

“I’d very much like to see it happen if we can do it in a safe way,” Horgan said.

Horgan said he believes BC could play a huge role in the eventual return of the NHL after the league was forced to shut down back in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We believe we can do a pretty good job. We have a lot of hotel capacity,” Horgan said.

“We’ve got some outstanding facilities, not just Rogers Arena but a whole host of other arenas around the province.”

It’s believed that Edmonton, Las Vegas and Toronto are also being eyed as potential host cities once the NHL returns to action. In Toronto, at least one European player has returned with forward Kasperi Kapanen announcing on social media yesterday that he's back in Toronto.

Here's hoping that Kapanen's return to Toronto represents a sign of things to come. He’ll likely have to go into a 14 day quarantine period now that he’s arrived back in Canada, as mandated by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, but he’ll have a head start on other Europeans coming back from across the Atlantic. Hopefully we’ll begin to see a slew of other players from Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Russian and other international hockey countries return in the next week or so.

In another positive development, the NHL and NHLPA Return to Play Committee offered up hope to fans today when it became public knowledge that the group has moved their scheduled meeting for tomorrow up to today.

Check it out:

That has to be encouraging, right? 

All of this is to say that things appear to be moving in the right direction. No confirmed dates or plans yet… but at least we have light at the end of a dark tunnel. Things are coming together.