The clock continues to tick on the NHL’s hope to start the 2021 season on Jan. 13, but as the days go by, more hurdles seem on the horizon.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported Thursday the seven Canadian teams may need to play the 2021 season in the United States due to Canada’s ongoing surge with COVID-19 cases.
Statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada: pic.twitter.com/IsQOO0m8Pd— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) December 17, 2020
The plan, through multiple reports, was the NHL would realign its four divisions this season, putting all teams north of the border in one all-Canadian division while swapping teams through the other three.
Seravalli noted the Public Health Agency of Canada has not signed off on any provisions claiming it would be safe for the Canadian teams to play in the country.
The projected realignment would have moved the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers moving out of the Pacific Division — won by the Vegas Golden Knights last season — and replacing them with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars from the Central Division.
An all-Canadian division might not be out of the cards if they are confined to a “hub,” such as the case for the other 24 teams. But if they’re moving to the United States, this would eliminate such a need for the Canadian conglomerate. The Pacific, for example, could operate under normal circumstances in Las Vegas, as has been suggested.
The deployment of a coronavirus vaccine has started to shed some light at the end of the tunnel for what could be normalcy in the 2021-22 season. But as of now, there has been no official language on when this season could start. There remains some pessimism on the logistics of getting everything in order — how many games, a trade deadline, when to start the playoffs, how to start the playoffs, etc. — for the NHL to begin on time.
Friends of the site SinBin.Vegas reported, via a team source, that the Golden Knights are opening training camp at City National Arena on Dec. 21, so there could be something to that and hockey could be on the horizon soon.
But with this latest hurdle, who knows what’s going to happen?