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Temporary NHL Realignment Possible as Time Is Running Short for the NHL

The NHL and NHL Player’s Association are still at work trying to find a good, safe, and effective way to start the new NHL season.

The Target date remains January 1st, 2021. There is still a lot for the NHL and its player’s association to sort out before a start date can be determined for sure, and time is running short, as Jan 1st is just a short 51 days away.

During a Paley International Council Summit panel with the MLB and NBA commissioners, Gary Bettman said that due to travel complications, the NHL might be forced to have a temporary realignment. Bettman went on to mention that with the Canada/U.S. travel restrictions, as well as the pure cross country travel (i.e. Florida and Los Angeles) might not make sense. He went on to say:

“It may be that we’re better off – particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating – keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues.”

With regards to fans in attendance, Bettman indicated that could very well be an arena-by-arena basis, depending on local CDC guidelines, which would look similar to how the NFL has operated. However, if a bubble or hub city is the best way for the league to proceed, then fans will more than likely be absent.

My Takeaway

51 days doesn’t seem nearly long enough to sort out all of the details and problems still up in the air. My guess is that the start of the 2020-21 season will be pushed past January 1st. I think February 1st is a more likely start date, given that there needs to be time to come up with an entire plan for the season. A plan that seemingly still needs to decide many key components such as number of games, whether or not the NHL needs to do a Bubble again- that’s not even taking into account a few weeks that would be required for a full training camp.

The NHL could privately have a solid foundation for the upcoming season, keeping January 1st as a possible outcome. As time progresses, expect news to start trickling out, as decisions are going to have to be made in the very near future.

All I know is that not having hockey on in November is just… weird.

What do you think will happen?

-Bradley Whitesell (@bradiey98)

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