NHL News

The case for the NHL keeping an all-Canadian division permanently

I wish I loved anything in life as much as Canadians love their (We The) North Division this NHL season.

“In our small little hockey world, this is an unbelievably cool event and I’m really glad I’m in Canada when it happened,” said Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice, when asked about the NHL’s realigned division where all seven Canadian teams will battle each other exclusively this season.

“All of the excitement that goes into it. The scrutiny. The pressure,” he said, contentedly. “Could you imagine full buildings in a Canadian division? Now I’m just daydreaming.”

We’re probably not going to see full buildings until 2021-22 at the absolute earliest, because of COVID-19 and the cautious path out of the pandemic. The North Division will likely not be a part of that season, as the NHL moves back to its traditional alignment in an 82-game schedule and its Canadian franchises slip back into their usual divisions.

Maurice, and other Canadians, want to keep the dream alive. “The idea [of continuing it] is wholly selfish,” he said.

But not wholly without merit.

“Let’s see how this goes. If it’s a home run, it will be wrong not to at least talk about it,” said a source on the players’ side. “I think you’d hear that from the guys. You’d certainly hear that from [Canadian rights holder] Sportsnet.”

Others aren’t even hedging about whether the league’s seven Canadian teams should be permanently realigned together.

“The North Division is a godsend. It’s going to make a load of money and generate interest in Canada like no one would believe. Gary Bettman lucked into it. The players lucked into it. If they change it back next year, they’re f—ing morons,” one agent told ESPN.

Here are the cases for and against keeping the North Division together beyond this truncated season.

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