As the Stanley Cup Playoffs creep closer and closer and there has been no change at the Canadian border, it is seeming more and more likely that there will be some form of relocation in the postseason. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that the NHL is not rushing to any conclusions, waiting to see if border policies are relaxed, but have to evaluate alternative plans for the North Division winner to be able to compete in the semifinals and Cup Final this season. Dreger notes that there is still hope that playoff games will take place in Canada this season, but it is not guaranteed at this point. Of the three possibilities that the league is considering, obviously the ideal result would be that border policies will be changed or at least NHL teams will be made a special exception, allowing the final two playoff rounds to take place in the North Division winner’s home city as usual. The next-best scenario is likely that the North Division playoffs will take place in home cities and only once a winner is decided will they move to an American city in order to continue on in the postseason. However, Dreger notes that the third option could see all four North Division playoff teams adopt the same U.S. home for their own divisional series, more similar to the bubble format seen last season. For the Canadian teams and their fans, this is probably their least-favorite outcome, but if the status quo remains at the border and provincial policies remain tight as well, it may be the only way for those clubs to make a league-wide postseason work.
- For the second season in a row, the Calder Cup will not be awarded. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that the AHL has abandoned hope of a league-wide postseason this season. The league is still evaluating the logistics of divisional playoffs, but with multiple divisions all of different sizes, a blanket format would be difficult to implement. Seravalli adds that without a championship to pursue and no financial incentive for players and many teams to play beyond the regular season, the AHL’s divisional playoffs may also be on an opt-in basis for both clubs and individuals. It would not be a surprise to see the minor league simply come to an end after their regular season schedule ends, allowing those players to join the parent club for their postseason run.
- While the cancelation of the Women’s World Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia has been a major story this week, Dreger reports that the odds are slim that the event will not happen at all. Instead, he notes that a number of locales have reached out about hosting the tournament. They include a number of fellow Canadian locations, such as Edmonton, Ottawa, and Price Edward Island, as well as Dallas, Texas and even a bid from Finland. By the time the IIHF is able to choose a new host and then re-plan the tournament, the Women’s Worlds are not expected to occur until late August or September. However, anything is better than the tournament being outright canceled altogether.