Boston Bruins

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 23: A general view of the arena during the national anthem prior to the game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Vegas Golden Knights in Game One of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 23, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

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 Listen to the full podcast below.

Click here for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of the NHL

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.