Bill Foley was a guest on Las Vegas’s KSHP Radio on Wednesday and the Golden Knights’ owner revealed several bombshells to host Brian Blessing.
For instance, why was Foley not concerned with trading first pairing defender Nate Schmidt to Pacific Division rival Vancouver? Well, because Vancouver will be in an all-Canadian team division next season, silly.
“They’re going to play in the Canadian Division this year,” Foley said of the Canucks according to a transcription by the Daily Hive’s Rob Williams.
“I don’t think that border is going to be open before January 1st,” Foley added. “I really don’t. Cause Canada’s got spikes going on, they’re starting to lock down again. Winnipeg’s locking down. Quebec has got spikes going down. I think they’re going to play in a Canadian division. I don’t think they’re going to cross the border.”
A Canadian Division would be seven teams deep and pit the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, and Winnipeg Jets against each other.
The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey first reported this possibility in mid-September.
The Canadiens would play 12 games against each of their rivals, a schedule that should have Canadian TV executives smiling.
Hickey mused that three other realigned divisions would feature eight US teams each and suggested an ali.
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Columbus Blue Jackets
Detroit Red Wings
St. Louis Blues
Tampa Bay Lightning
Los Angeles Kings
San Jose Sharks
Vegas Golden Knights
During Foley’s interview, he also revealed that he believed the season would start on February 1, a month later than the NHL’s current announced target date of January 1.
“He’s talking about January 1st, I don’t know,” Foley said of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “Maybe February 1st. Maybe an abbreviated season and an accelerated season.”
That sentiment was recently echoed by Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who in an interview with The Financial Times revealed that he believed the team would be hosting games with fans in February.
“There’s so much unknown. We don’t know when we’re going to play, if we’re going to play,” Foley said. “I know the Commissioner’s dedicated to having a season and awarding the Stanley Cup, but you can’t play in bubbles. It’s impossible. You can’t do it. You can’t afford it.”
An abbreviated season, according to Foley, would be 48- or 56-games long and conclude before the start of the 2021 Summer Olympics on Friday, July 23. Testing fans for COVID-19 would need to be figured out. “Can they all get tested with a nasal swab the day of the game?” Foley asked.
What does seem clear is that NHL owners want some fans at games next year. As the coronavirus pandemic rages on and is expected to get worse during the fall and winter months, it’s unclear if they will be able to pull it off.
Screenshot courtesy of the Vegas Golden Knights
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