Detail, or some facsimile thereof, are beginning to emerge for a January 1 start date for the new NHL season. While nothing is in stone, or even wet cement, it does appear that teams will be playing in their home arenas, but given the increasing and record breaking numbers of COVID cases in the United States, there would have to be a growing unease with this timeframe.
Originally the thought was that the league would start off in mini-bubbles, a thought that has not been completely thrown out but is not optimal as it would impact revenue generated from arena naming rights. NHL arena naming rights partners have been fairly patient, but this could end up being a real problem as these companies that hold the rights are enduring some of the same business challenges that the NHL is dealing with.
The temporary re-alignment is a no-brainer. Limiting travel inside a region just makes sense. The border crossing issue becomes less of a problem (as Canada has a 14 day quarantine period for entry) and the risk is reduced. Adding to that is an almost “baseball-like” scheduling idea of having teams play a two or three game series in a market vs. one game at a time, furthering the travel reduction. The numbers even work for an all-Canada division with seven teams, each of the other divisions will have eight. The geography is almost perfect.
Let’s face it, the eastern teams will get the travel pass they always have had and the selection of these teams are simple. The other two divisions get complicated pretty quickly. You could add the southeastern teams to the current Central Division (minus the Jets, Avs and Wild) along with Detroit and Columbus and get a fairly distributed travel schedule, even though Minnesota to Florida is a pretty long haul. Not that I am advocating adding the defending Stanley Cup champs. But a division of Chicago, Detroit, Carolina, Nashville, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Columbus and Florida could be fun.
This idea may also equal out the travel impact among the other division as well. Adding Minnesota and St. Louis to the western teams improves the travel balance… and let’s face it, a division consisting of Colorado, Vegas, LA, Anaheim, San Jose, Arizona, Minnesota and St. Louis would be a battle worth seeing. I can hearing the howling from the Midwest right now… but unfortunately, geography is geography, and we could trade out Dallas and St. louis in my scenario with limited impact.
Playoff scenarios are plentiful and warrant’s it’s own blog.
The idea of fans in the stands right now is a very dicey one. The NFL is showing some success in allowing socially distanced fan attendance. I know that observations from how the Titans are handling things by involving ushers insisting that masks remain on in the stadium at all times unless actively eating or drinking. A necessary step that will need to be repeated, especially at indoor venues.
At this point, the best we can do is mask-up and hope that the good news continues on the vaccine front. If January 1 is the target, the plan needs to be in place very soon…
Random Notes – Presented by
- Pause Babies
- Congrats to the Duchene’s on the birth of their child. Check out the pics on Matt’s social media, a real cutie!!
- Hire Gumby
- One of the things I keep hearing revolves around “flexibility.” You saw it in baseball, you are seeing it in the NFL. The schedule you see when the league announces the season will have to have some room in it for rescheduling due to the inevitable.
- Sheet Happens
- The Predators and Montgomery County have announced a new partnership that will bring two more sheets of ice to middle Tennessee addressing the need in the Clarksville area.
- The annual used equipment sale is going on, this time online at nashvillelockerroom.com. Season ticket holders get a 30% discount.
- Hype Ramping Up
- It’s a little difficult to not raise expectations after seeing what this kid can do. First round selection Iaroslav Askarov’s performance in the recently concluded Karjala Cup is doing just that. The young netminder posted a 0.98 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage including a championship capturing 29 save shutout.
SlapShot Radio is on hiatus until the next season starts, as soon as we know what the league is doing, we will be announcing the 13th season premier of the longest running hockey show in the southeast.
Our sponsors are fantastic, you need to check them out… Dr. Aileen Kruger at Hermitage Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
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We are prepping for season 13… so get in on the action… reach out to me for awesome new advertising packages.
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