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This is how the NHL may look like with a re-alignment for the 2020-2021 Season

A closed Canadian border is going to force the NHL to re-align its divisions for the 2020-2021 NHL season. At least that’s what most NHL personnel and analysts believe will be the case as there doesn’t seem to be any good news for the NHL in making travel to and from Canada for next season be easy.

That becomes a huge issue for the NHL. At one point Commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned he was hoping to work with the Canadian Government to get around the border closure, but when the Toronto Raptors and Blue Jays weren’t granted an exemption, any hope of that happening for the NHL seemed to go out the window.

The NHL wants to begin the next season in early 2021, and with the border still closed, that means it’ll have to change the way it does business.

During an appearance on a radio show in Las Vegas this past week, Golden Knights owner Bill Foley dropped what some are describing as a “bombshell” – while others see it more as common sense.

One possibility that had been speculated on is that the the NHL would re-align the divisions for the 2020-2021 season so teams wouldn’t need to cross the border. With his “Canada Division” comment, Foley seems to have confirmed the NHL is in favor of this option.

Just one of many possibilities for how the 2020-21 NHL Season divisions may look like.

Regardless of how the league re-aligns its divisions, it will require a lot of travel for the Canadian teams, as well as more travel than normal for any American teams west of St. Louis.

Looking for ways to optimize the schedule will be important, particularly if the league’s desire is to play upwards of 60+ games.

One way the NHL can help limit travel is by adopting a series-based schedule similar to how Major League Baseball did it this year.

The league could for example, schedule a team to come to the Pepsi Center and play a back to back – or even three games in four night – before heading to its next destination. It would still be a lot of travel, but it’s a solution that could curtail the total miles traveled and time spent at airports.

With so many questions still unanswered, there is only one thing for certain: The 2020-2021 NHL season is going to be unlike any we’ve ever seen and likely will ever see again. How the divisions look will be the least of the craziest things that will unfold in the coming months ahead.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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