By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman took a break from drawing the ire of Jeremy Jacobs and finally confirmed that a division comprised entirely of the league’s seven Canadian squads is likely coming to the 2021 season.
“If everything stays the way it is, we’re probably going to have to have a Canadian division and realign in the U.S.,” Bettman admitted Tuesday. “And we’re trying to focus on dealing with all of those challenges.”
With the United States and Canada still closed — and with coronavirus cases spiking dramatically in both countries — this unofficial confirmation comes as a shock to absolutely no one. It was going to become a reality as soon as the NHL and NHLPA hammered out their issues and got serious about a return to play, which seems to have finally happened.
But that leaves 24 teams to sort into new divisions.
Looking at a 2021 season somewhere between 52 and 56 games, and with a Jan. 13 start circled by both sides, the NHL seems likely to create three, regional-based divisions for the 24 American teams.
Early reports indicated that the Bruins would move into a division featuring the Capitals, Devils, Flyers, Hurricanes, Islanders, Rangers, and Sabres. The big takeaways from such a division change in 2021 would be that the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning would be out of the Bruins’ hair for a season, and that last year’s Bruins squad posted a strong 13-1-5 record against those seven teams.
But with the NHL Board of Governors needing to approve any realignment, Bettman isn’t guaranteeing anything just yet.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Bettman admitted. “There’s much to be determined.”
We talked about this in the newest episode of Sidelines at 985TheSportsHub.com. Listen to the full podcast below.