Golden Knights owner Bill Foley insinuated a Canadian bubble next year, meaning the LA Kings could play in a re-aligned division as well.
While we wait for the league to officially announce the start of the LA Kings and the rest of the NHL, free agency has been a hot topic for several teams. The Golden Knights added the top defenseman in Alex Pietrangelo, who figures to form an excellent pairing with Shea Theodore. Vegas Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley recently spoke with Host Sportsbook Radio host Brian Blessing about what it might be like facing former teammate Nate Schmidt and the Vancouver Canucks.
Schmidt, of course, was traded hours after the Golden Knights signed Pietrangelo to get under the offseason operating salary cap. They still need to clear approximately $1M before Opening Night, but the major takeaway from this conversation was Foley’s insinuation of an all-Canadian bubble for next season.
The Canadian border is closed for travel from the United States, or if people come over, they must quarantine for 14 days. That presents a major flaw in the NHL’s scheduling for the 2020-2021 season. The league has a tentative start date of January 1, which would align with the Winter Classic and just before the WHL opens its season.
However, Gary Bettman and the NHLPA might have to get crafty this year, similar to the MLB, and temporarily realign the divisions to get the most out of the upcoming season. I ran across this graphic on Twitter for consideration, and at first glance, I think it’s a decent option.
The furthest the Kings would have to travel would presumably be to Minnesota. There’s absolutely no way another bubble would work for the regular season, nor should the players be asked to be away from their families for four to six months, whatever the season ends up being.
Bettman has insisted that the 2020-2021 season will be an 82-game slate, but if the season begins on January 1, there’s either going to be more back-to-backs or the league will have to reduce the season to 60 games or so.
And if you’re curious how the Kings have played against each team in the Pacific/Central Division over the last three years, see below:
- Sharks: 4-5-2
- Golden Knights: 8-4-1
- Coyotes: 5-4-2
- Ducks: 6-5-1
- Avalanche: 6-2-1
- Wild: 5-3-1
- Stars: 2-4-1
You’d also have to wonder if the league would be open to an expanded form of playoffs, as fans are expected to be slowly integrated back into venues as the season progresses. With a league that depends so much on people coming through the gates, additional playoff games might not be a bad idea.