The NHL pause has become the newest, most addicting daily soap opera. Every morning fans wake up to read the latest news on the NHL’s plans to restart the season. Yesterday, Commissioner Gary Bettman shared his optimism with the NHL network.
We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start. There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. We’re going to try and make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back. When we come back, we want it to be at the right time, for the right reasons, under the right circumstances. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner
Now that the players and owners are engaging in daily conversations it shows the effort to recover the season from both sides. One scenario NHL officials have mulled over was originally conceived by Major League Baseball.
MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division – a concept gaining support among owners and executives. It would abolish the traditional American and National Leagues, and realign the divisions based on geography.
The plan, pending approval of medical experts and providing that COVID-19 testing is available to the public, would eliminate the need for players to be in isolation and allow them to still play at their home ballparks while severely reducing travel. -USA Today
TSN’s Bob McKenzie weighed on the possibility of the NHL taking the realignment approach, specifically reducing travel which allows players to play in locations closer to their homes and families.
If they get four sites, and we kind of assumed it would try to be done divisionally if they try to get the 19-20 season finished up. Four NHL sites, one for each division. There is the possibility that they would just say ‘well the Atlantic division is going to based out of Toronto. We’re not going to do can’t that, Florida and Tampa Bay can’t get from Florida up to Toronto. We’ll put them with some of the Metro teams, and move one of those Metro teams.’ You could do some mixing and matching on geographical lines versus divisions. -Bob McKenzie, TSN Analyst
If the league felt it was important to realign geographically, the Golden Knights could, but not likely, join the Central division playoff teams in one of the four site locations. However, St. Louis, Colorado, and Nashville are all closer to Dallas, which is a proposed site for the Central division. Leaving Vegas stuck in Alberta with three Canadian teams. Chances are, realignment wouldn’t effect the Golden Knights. Nope, they’ll be forced to travel to the designated destination for the Pacific division. Which at this point, looks like Edmonton.
Shifting the league geographically makes more sense in the Eastern conference, especially in the Atlantic like McKenzie mentioned. He believes a league-wide realignment could happen for the 2020-21 season, whenever that begins.
They could do the realignment next season if there’s nobody in the stands to try and cut down on travel costs. In the grand scheme of things what they’d that rather have is, get the all-clear by December or January of next year and put fans back in the seats and then roll it out as you would with the normal divisions. -McKenzie.
No matter where the Golden Knights end up playing their postseason series, there shouldn’t be any disadvantages. Sure the Oilers will be playing in their home arena, but with no fans in the building, it should feel like a neutral site. Or as close as it can get.