The plan to have an all-Canadian division might not happen if the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams north of the border have to play in the U.S.
Just when the idea of seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs compete in an all-Canadian division was looking like a reality, however, it looks like a wrench has been thrown into that plan.
As Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Thursday, the NHL is preparing for the possibility of having the Canadian NHL teams play in the United States if the league isn’t able to solidify agreements with the Canadian government.
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Considering the challenges the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors faced to play this season, the NHL was clearly hoping that by having no American teams come into Canada, they would clear a major hurdle. As Johnston explains, the preference is to have a bubble setup but for a 56-game season, that’s a tough situation for the players and staff to deal with.
This is why the NHL is looking at alternatives and this is something teams will need to sort out if they want to be ready for the proposed Jan. 13 puck drop date. It is the main hurdle U.S.-based NHL teams have had to deal with as state restrictions have forced them to find alternative locations to hold training camp.
Given the rise of cases across Canada, you can be sure that certain provinces will have different standards as opposed to others. This is why the world juniors have been in the spotlight with the potential for cases to enter the bubble as it did for Team Canada which forced the team to postpone camp.
What this latest development does is take away the opportunity for the Canadian teams to state their case as the top NHL team in the country. Leafs fans have hears some analysts predict them as the top team in Canada and it would have been interesting to see how they would have done in that situation.
It’s clear that there would be a natural rivalry between the Leafs and Edmonton Oilers given the amount of star power on both teams. Also with the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens trying to catch the Leafs, playing against them more than they would in a normal season.
Of course, the NHL could find a way to make it work with the different levels of government and you have to think the teams would like to avoid relocating. Considering camps are expected to open in a few weeks, we might have a solution soon…hopefully.
Do you think the NHL will move the Canadian teams to the U.S.? Where would you expect the Leafs to play in that scenario? Let us know in the comments below.