Interesting read at ESPN from senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski. I honestly did not know ESPN had a senior NHL writer or any NHL writers at all, since you don’t see hockey on their air waves, and when you do, it’s Barry Melrose getting a 90-second segment while reporting from storage closet B at the Bristol headquarters.
Wyshysnki’s story is titled “Planning the ideal 2020-21 NHL season: Schedule, divisions, playoff bracket, standings and more.” It’s chock full of good insider tidbits about what the coming campaign might look like.
One of the most intriguing portions was this section about divisions and how the league might re-jigger the structure based on COVID-19 border problems:
“The All-Canadian division is a near certainty, thanks to border issues that are not going to clear up any time soon. A regionally based divisional format is also likely to cut down on travel costs.
One current divisional concept that I’ve heard from a few sources:
Canada: Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets
East: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals
Central: Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning
West: Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights”
Hmm, so the Penguins would be in the central and the Flyers in the east? Minnesota would have to travel all over the place? And the Florida teams end up in the central as well?
I guess there’s not a ton of wiggle room here if the Canadian teams all need to be in the same division. This might end up being the biggest season ever in Canada.
Wyshynski also says there had been discussion of a five-division setup, which could possibly break the east into a southeast and northeast region, perhaps. He says the hub city idea lost steam for a variety of reasons.
Anyway, what do we think about this? Flyers and Penguins in different divisions? A Canada-only division?