At last check, the NHL was putting finishes touches on a season that would begin sometime in mid-January, with teams reorganized into four divisions.
One of those proposed divisions featured all seven Canadian franchises, due to our northern neighbors’ different approach to COVID-19. However, those teams might actually have to play in the United States due to domestic pandemic rules.
The NHL told its seven Canadian-based teams Thursday that there is a possibility they will have to play in the United States this season due to roadblocks with Canadian health authorities, sources confirmed to ESPN.
The NHL had been hoping to play a 56-game season starting Jan. 13 with teams playing in their own arenas. That plan included divisional realignment and an all-Canadian division — necessary because the U.S.-Canada border remains closed to nonessential business. However, provincial health authorities in Canada have challenged some of the NHL’s proposed protocols, which could force a change.
This has happened in other sports.
Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC had to play their “home” games in Hartford, Connecticut. The Raptors are currently playing in Tampa.
It would be a lot more complicated to move seven NHL teams to American cities. Not sure where you would place them. You could either double up on arenas in existing NHL cities, like Detroit and Chicago, or perhaps keep these clubs closer to the border and/or let them use minor league facilities instead. There a number of ECHL franchises that are currently suspended due to COVID-19 and are not playing, which means these arenas are not being used for hockey right now (via Wikipedia):
Reading PA? Hell yeah, let’s get the Santander Arena up and running. Bring the Maple Leafs down here and let them play their hockey in the GREAT Berks County. They can enjoy all the region has to offer, like French Creek State Park, the Pagoda, and Kohl’s.