The biggest logistical hurdle the NHL was facing before puck drop was the Candian government and its provinces denying teams playing in their own arenas.
While some teams signed off right away like the Winnipeg Jets (Manitoba), other provinces and teams like the Vancouver Canucks (British Columbia), Toronto Maple Leafs, and Ottawa Senators (Ontario) faced a huge question mark in regards to playing on home ice. With a schedule already set and an opening night announced, the league awaited word from government officials to lock in the 2021 season.
Thankfully, the league and Canadian government are on the brink of ironing out any issues for this season. The NHL says it believes that they have reached an agreement with each provincial government for Canadian teams to play in their home arenas.
“On the basis of our discussions in the past week, as well as our exchange of correspondence over the last 24 hours, we believe we are aligned and in agreement on the conditions on which each of our Canadian franchises can begin play in their own buildings for the start of the 2020-21 NHL season,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly said on Thursday.
The Canadian government informed the league that they would need to agree to additional testing to keep everyone safe. According to reports, the two parties are also looking at altering the schedule to create less travel between the teams.
Looking at the posted schedule right now, the NHL’s 56-game schedule will be similar to Major League Baseball. Games will be played in sets. For example, the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators are scheduled to face one another in three straight games. This series should be played in Vancouver, but that may change if the NHL and Canadian government agree to all logistics and protocols.
The NHL originally looked at Canadian and American teams crossing the border to play out a condensed schedule, but once that idea was shot down, the league turned to an alternative schedule with realigned divisions.
An all-Canadian division is interesting for rivalries. With Edmonton and Calgary set to meet a record 10-times in the regular season, rivalries will certainly pick-up steam. Other matchups to watch will be any combination of Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal going head-to-head.
Of the 7 Canadian teams, 4 will reach the postseason. The Toronto Maple Leafs own the best odds of all Canadian teams to win the Stanley Cup at +1300 (888Sport). The Ottawa Senators own the worst odds of all Canadian teams to win the Stanley Cup this season.
Toronto last won the Stanley Cup in 1967, and the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup was the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. The Habs are a contender in the Candian division, listed at +4000 (10Bet) to win the Stanley Cup.