The Canadian Division Illustrates the NHL’s Genius
Even though all sports have resumed across the globe, we cannot forget that COVID-19 is still a serious threat, and constant reminders come in the form of games being held in empty stadiums and arenas. The COVID-19 crisis is still real, and Canada still hasn’t opened the border to the United States. So, what does that mean for hockey? I mean, the Toronto Raptors are already playing this year in Tampa Bay, because the Canadian government wouldn’t allow American teams to come into the country.
In total, there are seven NHL teams in Canada, and this would obviously throw a huge wrench into the season. The league’s answer has been ingenious. Instead of the traditional divisions, the NHL has created a new North division, comprised of the seven Canadian teams. The NHL, whose season begins on January 13th, has said that all games for the first two months of the season will be intra-division, meaning that the Canadian teams will only play each other until March.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and his staff hope that, by March, the U.S.-Canadian border will be open to business travel, allowing American and Canadian teams to face off, but in the meantime, this is a genius way to solve a major problem. Also, it’ll give fans a real chance to compare Canadian teams and American teams. Obviously, there isn’t a ton of difference, but there are different philosophies that rule these teams.
Finally, it’ll make containing any possible spread of COVID-19 much easier. The intra-division play doesn’t just apply to the North Division, but also the East, South and West divisions. That means that every team will only have to travel a maximum of three hours to any game for the first two months of the season, which also will help cut down on fatigue. However, the trade-off is that once intra-division play is over, travel fatigue will ramp up quickly.
That said, this should all be exciting, and the NHL should be applauded for figuring out how to rescue a season from a serious political problem.