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After a division consisting of the seven Canadian NHL teams appeared to be in the cards for months due to the United States-Canada border closure with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported on Thursday that all 31 teams playing in the United States this season is the “likely outcome” if the league cannot work out an agreement with the five Canadian provinces that are home to NHL teams.
It is still possible that the provincial governments will allow the seven teams to play each other but it has not happened yet.
The NHL would prefer for the seven teams to play in their own arenas for the 2020-21 season so they would not have to deal with border issues.
The plan will need approval from the health authorities in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia. They need to be comfortable with the NHL’s protocols, which they and the players’ association have been grinding away on as they hope to reach an agreement for this season as soon as this weekend.
Should that fail to occur, the NHL is willing to have the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, and Ottawa Senators to play outside of the country if necessary.
The Canadian government did not grant permission to the MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays or the NBA’s Toronto Raptors to play their games in Canada. They are the only teams in their respective leagues based north of the border. The Blue Jays played the 2020 season in Buffalo and the Raptors will play the 2020-21 season in Tampa.
Probably obvious but a league source confirms that if the 7 Canadian teams end up having to play in the U.S., the all-Canadian division is likely gone and more realignment changes would be necessary. But the hope remains the 7 Cdn teams can play in Canada in the same division.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 17, 2020
By Harrison Brown