What would the NHL Look Like if COVID causes restrictions on Border Travel


Because the consensus of the general American public are that they are a bunch of idiots, Coronavirus is once again surging in the United States. With politicians more interested in playing games over who keeps power than saving lives, Coronavirus will not leave American shores for a long period of time due to the sheer incompetence of this country. Due to this, the Canadian government may choose to stop their seven Canadian NHL teams from traveling south of the border and/or allowing American teams to enter into the Great North. Coronavirus has already put the NHL in a financially precarious situation and cancelling the season altogether is not an option. If America can’t get its act together and the Canadian government decides to do what is best for its citizens, the seven Canadian teams may be excluded from the twenty four American teams. Despite the NHL’s reassurances that this wouldn’t happen, Vegas Golden Knights Owner William Foley did not sound so optimistic in an interview he gave today with Sportsbook Radio.

This would likely set up a situation in which the NHL is forced to realign its teams and consider a bubble for the second consecutive postseason. I highly doubt the NHL shortens it’s season like the MLB, as it is unlikely the NHL can survive a financial conundrum such as that situation. So basically here is how the NHL would look:

The American Conference-3 divisions of 8 teams

The Canadian Conference-1 division of 7 teams

Here is a look at my hypothetical divisions:

SOUTHERN DIVISION

Tampa Bay Lightning

Dallas Stars

St Louis Blues

Washington Capitals

Carolina Hurricanes

Columbus Blue Jackets

Nashville Predators

Florida Panthers

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

New York Islanders

Philadelphia Flyers

Boston Bruins

Pittsburgh Penguins

New York Rangers

New Jersey Devils

Buffalo Sabres

Detroit Red Wings

WESTERN DIVISION

Vegas Golden Knights

Colorado Avalanche

Chicago Blackhawks

Arizona Coyotes

Minnesota Wild

Anaheim Ducks

Los Angeles Kings

San Jose Sharks

Formatting a schedule will be a lot easier for the Canadian teams. Here is my scenario for the Canadian teams.

13 games x 4 opponents = 52 games

15 games x 2 opponents = 30 games

Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa will each play each other 15 times respectively. In the West, Vancouver and Calgary will play Edmonton and Winnipeg twice and vice versa.

Here is the schedule scenario for the American teams:

6 games x 7 divisional opponents = 42 games

3 games x 8 out of division opponents (4 opponents in each opposite conference)= 24 games

2 games x 8 out of division opponents (4 opponents in each opposite conference)= 16 games.

For the playoffs, I would take the top 2 teams from each division and institute two bubbles. For the remaining 8 teams, I would go by the remaining teams points. Seeding and matchups in each bubble would go like this.

Round 1

Bubble A

Series 1- (1) President’s Trophy Winner vs (16) Team out of the top 2 in the division with the 8th most points.

Series 2- (8) Worst 2nd place team vs (9) Best team not in the top 2 of a division

Series 3- (5) Best 2nd place team vs (12) 4th best team not in the top 2 of a division

Series 4- (4) Worst 1st place division team vs (13) 5th best team not in the top 2 of a division.

Bubble B

Series 5- (3) 3rd best 1st place team vs (14) 6th best team not in the top 2 of a division.

Series 6- (6) 2nd best 2nd place team vs (11) 3rd best team not in the top 2 of a division.

Series 7- (7) 3rd best 2nd place team vs (10) 2nd best team not in the top 2 of a division.

Series 8- (2) 2nd best 1st place team vs (15) 7th best team not in the top 2 of a division.

At the end of each round, matchups will be reseeded based inside each bubble. The Prince of Wales and Campbell trophies might be suspended this year, unless the NHL decides to do something where Bubble A’s champion gets one and Bubble B’s champion gets one. The Bubbles may merge in the Conference finals, but will not reseed, rather the two teams remaining from each respective bubble will square off against each other.

This format is pretty bold and it balances out the whole league so there is not discrimination against or in favor of the Canadian teams. Western and Eastern conferences will collide in two of the divisions making geographical conferences for the upcoming season obsolete. Of course this is only a hypothetical, but I have to believe that this is the NHL’s doomsday plan.

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