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A New Look For The League?

By Allison Dawe

The NHL rumor mill is turning, and this potential change could be a really groundbreaking one.

According to Hockey Insiders, the NHL is reportedly looking into safety measures moving forward in regard to Covid-19, and with travel between the US and Canada still restricted they may need to get creative.

What would the league look like with a Canadian Division or Conference?

This is apparently something that the league and Commissioner are weighing as a change heading into the start of the 2020-21 season set to begin on January 1. It’s hard not to think about how this would shift the dynamics of the league as it stands and potentially weaken or strengthen the divisions depending on how you look at it. Obviously, this would significantly impact the conferences and would change the dynamic within the league. 

As far as the Western Conference goes this would eliminate four teams from the current lineup including, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.  In the Eastern, this eliminates Toronto and Ottawa. Some in the league offices worry that with the elimination of these Canadian teams from each division, there will be a lack of “balance” within the conference, never mind in each division.

Is this an attack on certain Canadian teams?

It certainly seems like this could be a commentary on certain clubs, but I am not going to name any! But on the flip side, maybe this is exactly what the NHL needs to ramp up the level of competition. Old rivalries like Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens or the Calgary Flames and Oilers will be even more intense. Perhaps these games would get a prime-time slot on NBC. In this new season, the league has to get creative and with the border not predicted to open in the foreseeable future, this new conference could be a reality. 

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One interesting note from the bubble format in Canada is the incredible cost it has had both on the league and on each team. Without ticket revenue, without fans in seats, effectively you are cutting each team’s revenue. Moving into the 2020-21 season certain markets are looking into the potential of a limited crowd and maybe since fans were not present for the resumption of the 2019-20 season there will be built-up demand to get tickets. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers could absolutely benefit from the lack of restrictions in the state. 

This will be an interesting NHL season for so many reasons, and if there is a reorganization of the teams, then the level of competition will absolutely be elevated. Maybe this is exactly what the NHL needs and we’ll get to see rivalries renewed and new ones form. 

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November 29th, 2020

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