As the NHL continues to assess how it will conduct its upcoming season in the current pandemic environment. One of the biggest roadblocks for the league is the interplay involving its Canadian and American teams. Now there is a chance that the Canadian teams will have to play in the U.S. instead of their home arenas in Canada.

On Thursday, the league informed their seven Canadian based-teams that there is a possibility they will have to play in the United States. The league was hoping for their season to start on January 13 with a 56-game schedule. The original plan was for the NHL to adopt a temporary divisional realignment with an all-Canadian division. The league wanted all teams to play in their home arenas because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential business. However, the roadblock for the plan came as health authorities in Canada challenged the NHL’s plan.

Both the NHL and the NHLPA were hoping to have a proposal ready by the end of the week. Doing so will have allowed the board of governors to vote whether to accept the plan or not.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been busy the past few months consulting experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and other leading infectious disease experts to help formulate strategies.

The NHL had been hoping to have awarded the Stanley Cup to a winner before the Tokyo Olympics begin in July 2021. It would allow the league to restore their normal schedule for the 2021-2022 season.

That is not the only issue that is impacting the league. Another is the local restrictions in each city that is hindering any possible plans by the league. An example is the San Jose Sharks, which are making plans to open their training camps in Scottsdale, Arizona, because of a sports contact ban in Santa Clara County.

The league is willing to play in a bubble format as the NBA did. Bettman said to the World Hockey Forum panel, “Right now, we’re focused on whether or not we’re going to play in our buildings and do some limited traveling or play in a bubble. That’s something we’re working on and getting medical advice on.”

 

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