By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The long-rumored idea of an all-Canadian division may be on its way out, as there’s been talk of moving the National Hockey League’s seven teams down into the United States for the entire 2021 season, according to a report from Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
According to Johnston, while the idea of remaining in Canada for the entire season would erase the headache of crossing over the border and quarantining as a result (an impossibility if there ever was one), it’s a plan that’s been met with some opposition from health authorities in each province. Per Johnston, it’s believed that the country would prefer a bubble setup like the ones the NHL set up in Toronto and Edmonton this past summer.
“The Government of Canada’s priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Public Health Agency of Canada spokesman Andre Gagnon told Sportsnet. “The resumption of sports events in Canada must be undertaken in adherence to Canada’s measures to mitigate the importation and spread of COVID-19. NHL teams and other professional sports teams must operate within the rules of their provincial jurisdictions for sports or sporting events.”
That’s not a resounding yes.
As Johnston writes, it’s led to senior league officials talking about the possibility of moving the seven Canadian clubs down to the United States, though exact cities and relocation plans remain unknown.
The Blue Jays played the 2020 MLB season in Buffalo, and the Raptors are scheduled to begin the 2020-21 NBA season in Tampa, so this isn’t a completely foreign concept, though finding seven homes may be a trickier proposition than one. But nothing is set in stone, of course, and it’s believed that the league and public health officials in Canada will continue to have discussions about the logistics of their plans.
It does create yet another problem when it comes to the scheduled start of the 2021 season, however, as you really can’t open a training camp and build a schedule until you know where the league’s 31 teams are going to be playing their games. Same for potential realignment, as there’s no really no sense in blowing things up with a regional-based realignment if you’re going to simply move every Canadian club down to the United States for the entire season.
This potential talk of temporarily taking Canada’s game out of Canada comes on the heels of Dr. Anthony Fauci advising NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to play the 2021 season in hub cities.
Listen to Ty Anderson and Matt Dolloff talk about the Bruins and more in the newest episode of the SideLines podcast below.