NHL’s First All Canadian Division
April 6, 2021
Due to COVID-19 many major sports leagues, including the NHL, had to apply innovative structures to combat the worldwide issue.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything and everyone had to evolve. Stores now have a smaller capacity, masks must be worn in gyms, and high schools are only in person for half the day. The NHL’s solution, along with the COVID Protocol, implemented a unique look; four divisions, and one entire Canadian Division.
The NHL Scotia North Division consists of the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens. In the shorter 56 game season, each team will play another team 8 times. But disregarding the actual playstyle and the issue that has come from it, the North Division is arguably the most successful experiment done in a major sports league.
The North Division effectively cuts the border, removing the issue of travel and quarantine. Canadian teams now do not need to quarantine, or stay in one location. Statistics even show that this has had much success.
Each American Division has had at least two teams who had to postpone multiple games due to the number of players on the COVID-19 protocol list. The Canadian Division has had zero until very recently.
The Vancouver Canucks have had a very serious outbreak of the P-1 COVID variant. 14 players are on the NHL’s protocol list, and over half the roster has tested positive. There are some seriously ill players as well. The player’s ages range from 20 to 35.
Other than the Canucks, there have only been 3 other Canadian division players put onto the protocol list (and all three had inconclusive results and were tested negative soon after).
The Boston Bruins are currently the most impacted NHL Team, with missing a small portion of the start and a larger portion weeks later. In comparison, the Bruins have only played 35 games compared to many of the teams’ 40+ games.
With this success comes issues, as anything does in these tough times. Trades are harder to do because of quarantine, player injuries and recoveries become more complicated and much more. Through all of this, the NHL’s North Division is flourishing and will hopefully continue to do so.