Completing its first full regular season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL accepted and even anticipated that there would be disruptions. That's certainly proven to be the case. As the league enters the stretch drive of regular-season play, 58 games have required rescheduling due to various COVID-19 outbreaks among the NHL's 31 teams. Over 150 players on 29 different teams have entered the NHL's COVID-19 protocols.
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NHL's Regular Season Has New Dates
- The NHL has been forced to reschedule 58 games this season due to COVID-19 outbreaks
- Over 150 players on 29 of the 31 NHL teams have entered the league's COVID-19 protocols
- The postponements required the NHL to extend the last day of regular-season play from May 8th to May 19th
The Hart Trophy is awarded annually to the most valuable player in the NHL. You've probably never heard of him, but this season Steve Hatze Petros would be a worthy recipient. Hatze Petros is the NHL’s executive vice president of scheduling and broadcast business. Among his major tasks is putting together the NHL schedule.
During the 2021 season, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc upon the NHL schedule. It's become much like the TV listings - always subject to change. With 58 game postponements, the league was forced to utilize the 10-day window installed at the end of the season to accommodate rescheduled games. Instead of concluding on May 8th, the 56-game regular season will now come to an end on May 19th.
Canucks Hardest Hit
During the course of the season, there have been over 150 players who've entered the NHL's COVID-19 protocols. Of the 31 NHL teams, 29 have seen at least one player go on this list. It actually started before the season did. A COVID-19 outbreak among the 2020 Stanley Cup finalist Dallas Stars necessitated that the team shut down training camp and postpone their first three games.
Amazingly, it wasn't until March 22nd that there a COVID-19 cancellation among the NHL's seven Canadian teams. Yet once the virus found its way into the NHL's Canadian clubs, it struck with a vengeance. The Vancouver Canucks had 21 players test positive for COVID-19.
What About The Stanley Cup Playoffs?
While the league has been able to alter the schedule in order to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks during regular-season action, that won't be an option during a Stanley Cup playoff series. It's possible that some NHL divisions will begin playoff series while others are still concluding regular-season play.
The league may also opt to go forth with a bubble format for postseason play with hub cities similar to the system that was deployed to get the 2019-20 NHL playoffs completed. Toronto and Edmonton were the hub cities last year, but it's almost a certainty this time that if this format is the chosen option, it will be housed in American cities.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||8.50||9.00||8.50|
|Vegas Golden Knights||8.50||8.50||9.00|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||9.00||9.00||9.00|
Canadian cities remain under much stricter COVID-19 restrictions than their American counterparts. Many American-based franchises are now permitting a limited number of spectators to attend games. That isn't the case anywhere in Canada. Arguably, the presence of a crowd can create a home-ice advantage that is certainly an element that must be taken into consideration when betting on the NHL playoffs.
The NHL playoffs are a little more than two weeks out but like everything NHL-related in this COVID-19 world nimble remains the order of the day. What we know and what is still being considered at this late date. https://t.co/FWTQL723iF— Scott Burnside (@OvertimeScottB) April 29, 2021
It's possible that if there isn't a bubble format utilized, the winner of the all-Canadian North Division will be required to relocate to a U.S. city to compete in the Stanley Cup final four. The Canada-US border remains closed to all but essential travel. Canada has also been slow to administer COVID-19 vaccines. While 29 percent of Americans have been vaccinated, less than three percent of Canadians have received the vaccine.
Plans For 2021-22 NHL Season
During a virtual NHL GM's meeting held in late April, October 12th was targeted as the launch date for the league's 2021-22 regular season.
The NHL on the GMs' call today shared its hopeful target date for puck drop next fall: Oct. 12.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 21, 2021
Which is about a week or so later than normal.
Training camps hopefully opening Sept. 22.
Again, that Oct. 12 start date is if there are no delays. @TSNHockey @TheAthletic
There was also discussion regarding the 2022 Winter Olympics. While the players and owners reached an agreement to participate in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, the NHL, IOC and IIHF are still hammering out details of an agreement to play in the Olympics.
The NHL hopes to have that situation resolved by the end of May. It needs to know whether to include a February 2022 Olympic break prior to mocking up the 2021-22 regular-season NHL schedule.
Where To Bet On The NHL
There are a number of leading online sports betting sites that will provide bettors with the chance to place a wager on NHL action. The best bet you can make is to shop around in advance and seek out the right deal before joining one of these sportsbooks. Check out PowerPlay Sports and SportsInteraction as examples.
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