While hockey fans and betting enthusiasts everywhere are still waiting for the start date for the 2020-21 NHL regular season, the league’s plan to make a major realignment because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is starting to become a lot clearer. Let’s take a closer look at what their plans are so you can get prepare to make your bets against their NHL odds.
NHL’s Four Division Realignment and What it Means
Just last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman revealed that the league’s realignment will likely feature a Canadian division as a result of border restrictions between the United States and Canada.
“There are a lot of things we have to do to return to play,” Bettman said. “For us to return to play, we’re not going to play 82 games, obviously, and we have travel issues because of the restrictions at the border between Canada and the U.S. You can’t go back and forth, so we’re actually going to have to realign.
“If everything stays the way it is, we’re probably going to have to have a Canadian division and realign in the U.S., and we’re trying to focus on dealing with all of those challenges.”
Before any realignment takes place, it will require approval from the NHL Board of Governors, though that’s not expected to be an issue for the organization.
The proposed realignment would feature the league’s seven Canadian franchises. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets.
The 24 teams based in the United States would three, eight-team divisions that are expected to be set up as follows:
- Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals
- Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning
- Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, and Vegas Golden Knights
Bettman also stated that the league’s start date and number of games continues to be discussed, although it’s basketball-playing NBA counterpart has already set up and kicked off its 2020-21 campaign.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Bettman said. “There’s much to be determined.”
The league and NHL Players’ Association are in discussions right now regarding the format of the upcoming campaign as well as the length of training camp and COVID-19 protocols. The NHL wants to play a full, 82-game season in the 2021-22 which will feature the expansion Seattle Kraken, almost certainly joining the Pacific Division.