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Odds of All-Canadian division increasing, would be disadvantage for Leafs

November 12, 2020, 5:41 PM ET [209 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The National Hockey League Board of Governors and NHL Player’s Association each met virtually on Thursday to discuss options for the upcoming 2020-21 regular season. According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun , Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman has been included in an expanded Return to Play committee, which previously included teammates John Tavares and Jason Spezza.

The two sides appear to agree on a January 1 start date for the regular season, but to this point there has been no indication on how many games it will be. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has continued to say that the league would like to play a full 82-game schedule, but that would likely not be possible if the NHL wished to complete the Stanley Cup Playoffs by mid-July, before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

The players would prefer to play a full season since a shortened schedule would likely lead to the league asking for prorated salaries (as Major League Baseball and the MLBPA did) because fans will not be allowed in many venues to start the year.

LeBrun indicates that clubs will likely assemble for training camps by mid-December (except for the seven non-playoff clubs whose seasons ended in March) and that because of the continuing restrictions at the US - Canada border, that the season may begin with an all-Canadian division, but that may change if the border is opened to non-essential travel in early 2021.

The Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators would be at a distinct disadvantage in a seven-team all-Canadian division if clubs are traveling to cities for games instead of hubs/bubbles for a series of games since four clubs (Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver) would require Toronto to fly lengthy distances multiple times if the schedule was strictly within the division.

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