NHL seriously considers creating Canadian division for 2020-21 season

It has been almost six months since the West has seen its existence be transformed by SARS-COV2. In China, the virus has changed the lives of its citizens for nine months.

The NHL went out of regular activity for just over four months before returning with no-spectator playoffs and with each conference teams isolated in a bubble (Toronto and Edmonton).

The Stanley Cup is expected to be won in early October, with the draft and free agent opening to follow. NHL hope still be able to hold training camps in mid-November… and start their next regular season at the beginning of December.

But the Canada-US border is still closed. It will be at least until September 21 and frankly, I do not have the feeling that that will change on the morning of the 22nd. Government decisions take precedence over the decisions of a handful of owners and hockey players.

So, what are we gonna do?

Elliotte Friedman confided in the evening yesterday (in her traditional 31 Thoughts) that according to what he hears, he does not believe that there will be bubbles for the next campaign. Players will refuse to isolate themselves again in such situations (over even longer periods of time) and we can understand them. At some point, normal (or pseudo-normal) life must continue. Children have to see their father and go to school.

The owners will try hard to be able to play matches in the city of their respective team and to be able to admit spectators (limited number?) In the arena. The start of the regular season could therefore be postponed if we feel that it will be more possible in January or February (than in December). Treatments and vaccines will therefore dictate part of the outcome for NHL.

Where it gets interesting is when Friedman argues that a Canadian division is indeed a possibility with the border still closed and the need to limit the travel for teams.

The teams would therefore be grouped together in small groups and would only face the teams of their division in the form of two matches in 24 hours in every foreign city.

Due to the closure of the Canada-US border and the obligation to quarantine for 14 days when returning to Canada, the seven Canadian teams would therefore compete exclusively in 2020-21. At least, to start the campaign …

Of course, the travel would not necessarily be much reduced for the CH who should travel to Western Canada more regularly … but in the end, the team could leave for two weeks and have played no less than eight games. She could then come and play in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal for a good end of time.

As we have seen with MLS, professional leagues will have to be open-minded and adapt. The 2020-21 NHL schedule, like the Garber circuit, could change during the season for good to adjust to the pandemic.

The good news is that Friedman doesn’t believe this regional reality will last longer than a season. He is confident to see the NHL return to its normal reality thereafter. The second? The CH would not have to emigrate to Buffalo or Florida to play its local matches and thus find itself far from its supporters throughout the campaign.

The CH which may not be the Bruins or the Flyers … let’s say that it would amplify the rivalries against Toronto and Ottawa, but that it would leave us a little bitter taste in our mouths.

What would the other divisions look like? Let’s say that several hypotheses have been circulating on social networks since last night.

A lot of

– So Lionel Messi will be playing at Stade Saputo in three years? Wow!

– Jean-Gabriel Pageau is twice as productive in the playoffs!

– Matt Borowiecki’s turn to leave Ottawa?

– The KHL is not backing down.

– The Impact had ambient sounds in Stade Saputo last week (and not only on television).

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