Report: NHL Realignment By Country, Region In Store For 2020-21 NHL Season

Graphic: Twitter

The NHL will likely be realigned and divided by country and region next season, according to Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley.

In a recent interview with KSHP Radio in Las Vegas, Foley may have let the cat out of the bag about current plans for next season, in terms of temporary realignment, fans in the stands, season length, and even when the Stanley Cup will be handed out.

When Foley was asked about trading defenceman Nate Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks, a division rival, Foley explained why he wasn’t concerned.

“They’re going to play in the Canadian Division this year,” said Foley. “I don’t think that border’s going to be open before January 1st. I really don’t. Cause Canada’s got spikes going on, they’re starting to lock down again. Winnipeg’s locking down. Quebec has got spikes going down. I think they’re going to play in a Canadian division. I don’t think they’re going to cross the border.”

The NHL wants to begin the next season in early 2021. With the US-Canadian border still closed, the league will have to significantly modify the way it does business.

Temporary Realignment

Initial discussions regarding a potential realignment would create a Canadian Division and four regional US divisions, thus eliminating the need for border crossings.

In one concept, the Metropolitan Division would remain as-is.

Graphic: Reddit

The league could also opt for a reduced travel version of the above, which would move Boston and Buffalo to the Metropolitan Division and Carolina and Columbus to the Southern Division.

Regardless of how the league realigns 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.

Three-Game Series

One way the NHL can limit travel is by adopting a series-based schedule similar to Major League Baseball. Each team would visit each of the teams in their division for three-game sets, played in a 4-5 day span.

Fans In Stands?

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk told the Financial Post that he believes fans will return to his arena by February, and has mapped out a “safe seating plan” with 6,000 people in the 17,000-seat Canadian Tire Centre.

Length Of Schedule

Foley believes that the NHL will play a 48- or 56-game season, which wouldn’t be unprecedented. The NHL has played a 48-game season on two occasions, both due to an owners lockout.

As Foley stated, a lot remains to be determined.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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7 Responses to Report: NHL Realignment By Country, Region In Store For 2020-21 NHL Season

  1. Anonymous says:

    Seasonns starting in July twice or January?

    • Anonymous says:

      Season must be over this year by late July, because NBC will not air hockey over the Olympics/. It’s all about money.

  2. redLitYogi says:

    strong work, Jon. Wow, if we stay within the division the entire time, we’d need ten games against each team just to get to 70 games. I think that would bore the fans pretty quickly. Maybe a 56 game schedule? I’d say two game sets rather than three in that case. The geographic alignment makes the most sense.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Thanks Yogi. I’m with ya, seeing the same teams so many times would get old. Gotta think this is all based on a reduced schedule – 48 or 56 games. But still….

  3. Anonymous says:

    This raises the question that has been raised in the past about creating a fair travel/rest schedule that doesn’t give an advantage to the metropolitan division- where they only have to travel within a couple hours between each of their opponents, where teams like Dallas, Wild, and Jets must take half day trips in and half day back and forced to forego practice and/or rest days between games.

  4. Pingback: Rankning av de nya NHL-avdelningarna som använder mål över ersättning (GAR) och ställningspoäng ovanför utbyte (SPAR) – Hockeyspelare

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