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Where Teams May Relocate and Why an NHL All-Canadian Division Still Matters

The NHL has a lot to consider, including where teams might be relocated to in the U.S. and if an all-Canadian Division is still important.

Yesterday, as news dropped that the NHL is making contingency plans for the 2020-21 season to be played entirely out of the United States, speculation started swirling as to what that might mean for the upcoming hockey year. Would an all-Canadian Division be a go? Would this change the start date of the season or how many games the league would get in? One popular question was, ‘Where would the seven Canadian teams relocated to?’

Related: Canadian Teams Could Have to Play 2020-21 NHL Season in the U.S.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman took some time on Sportsnet 590 this morning to respond to that question and while he didn’t have a definitive answer, he did have some informed ideas.

h/t to ** transcription

Friedman noted:

“I lack clarity right now on that. I’ll say this, I heard a couple weeks ago that there were contingency plans out there that, for example the Jets ECHL team is in Jacksonville. And I heard a rumor, and it was a decent source, that maybe those teams were going to have to consider playing there.

Friedman added that he looked into that report a couple of weeks ago and his sources told him that wasn’t going to happen. When he got in touch with that source again yesterday, he said his source laughed because he noted, ‘ I’m ahead of my time.’ In other words, he saw this coming.

Friedman noted there are questions about how the league will manage the seven teams. One question was , would they consider putting them in a hub? That seems highly unlikely considering how unfair that would be to those seven teams.

Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal posted on Thursday that Milwaukee might be an option, or for Canadian teams with ECHL affiliates to try to work something out in those respective cities. (ie. Winnipeg in Jacksonville). Basically, the idea would be to find quality arenas that aren’t actively being used as NHL arenas but are places you can play.

Would This Be Permanent?

One of the keys to note here is that the players are already talking about the fact that this kind of move isn’t necessarily permanent over the full course of a season. Both the division re-alignment and the buildings chosen would need to reflect the fact that things could change.

Friedman explained:

Mark Giordano, he lives in Calgary all year round. Pettersson from Vancouver, he stayed in Vancouver. He didn’t go back to Sweden. There’s Mitch Marner. I saw his quote with Luke Fox yesterday and he’s a Toronto guy. How many of these guys are going to say, ‘when this is over, when the government clears up, we want to come back.’ If that is the case, you can’t break up the Canadian division.

That means, the talk that an all-Canadian Division becomes irrelevant isn’t necessarily accurate. The belief was that the NHL was only doing this to appease provincial health requirements, but that if the NHL moved outside of Canada, there’d be no need to do so. But, if the players move back to Canada, and during the season, it matters again.

In fact, some believe, the fact that this story of moving the NHL exclusively to the United States is out there now, it might trigger various provincial governments to act.

NHL Still Has A Lot to Figure Out

Friedman suggested there is still a lot in limbo and there’s even more uncertainty than ever before. The question will be if this pushes back the season start date of January 13th and the belief by many is that it will.

Some provinces are going to be holding emergency meetings about all of this, including reports out of Ontario that Doug Ford would convene and find and answer for the NHL sooner than later. Still, that could take time for all provinces to do the same. And if these provinces come back and note they’re not interested in making exceptions, the NHL has some major decisions to make.

Next: Montreal Canadiens Maybe Players to Watch During 2020-21 Season

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