NHL nearing return with potential start date, new divisions

NHL and NHLPA representatives move forward towards potential start date. New divisions are also in discussion with the potential of an all-Canadian division.

After a lengthy battle between the NHL and NHLPA, it has been agreed that the economic framework of the newest collective bargaining agreement will not be changed, and that play may return as soon as January 13th, per Sportsnet’s’ Elliotte Friedman.

Although there are not any new changes in terms of the monetary aspects, there are a lot of new modifications to the potential 2021 NHL season.

First off, teams are aiming to report in less than a month, with non-playoff teams starting training camp on Dec. 28 and playoff teams on Jan. 1, which then allows for a target date of Jan. 13 to begin NHL play.

The league hopes to fit 56 games into the season slate with the chance of newly aligned divisions to help with travel distance for teams.

The biggest concern leading to realignment is the travel restrictions placed between Canada and the United States, leaving an all-Canadian division.

Even though there will be some rivalries and key divisional matchups that will have to be forgone, an all-Canadian division will be a thrilling spectacle especially with it being 27 years since a Canadian team lifted the Stanley Cup.

A more in-depth look and prolonged magnifying glass on matchups like Montreal and Toronto and the Battle of Alberta between Edmonton and Calgary will see no complaints from fans as these contests should be filled with exactly what viewers are looking for every night with 60 plus minutes of excitement.

Other potential divisions include the East, which would include Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, and Washington.

The Central would see Columbus, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Florida, and Tampa Bay aligning with Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis.

Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, and Vegas will all fill the West Division.

The most compelling aspect about these alignments is the structure of the potential Central Division as several teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences are pulled together to create a new arrangement.

Specifically for the Penguins, this alignment will see a much different schedule of games with the West Conference teams becoming normal opponents for this season as well as a swing down into the Sunshine State for matchups with Florida and Tampa Bay.

Other areas the league still intends to finalize plans for include COVID-19 protocols, complete schedule, and playoffs.

All in all, it is a relief to hear the movement along the lines between the NHL and NHLPA and the hope for a new hockey season to begin just after the New Year begins.


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