Like all pro sports leagues in the era of COVID-19, the National Hockey League is thinking on its feet as it tries to put together a safe and feasible 2020-21 regular season.
What does that look like? For starters, it might present a hiccup in the sport's best, most passionate rivalry.
According to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski, realigned divisions — to try and cut down on travel for all involved — are being discussed, and the shapes of those divisions look a little something like this:
Canada: Flames, Oilers, Canadiens, Senators, Maple Leafs, Canucks, Jets
East: Bruins, Sabres, Hurricanes, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Capitals
Central: Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Panthers, Predators, Penguins, Blues, Lightning
West: Ducks, Coyotes, Avalanche, Stars, Kings, Wild, Sharks, Golden Knights
Flyers fans: notice anything wonky?
Yep, this particular division alignment would put the Flyers and the Penguins in separate divisions, an unthinkable idea for two teams who get so much juice from playing each other numerous times every season.
The league creating as safe a season as possible is tantamount to everything else ... but it sure would be nice if the Flyers and Penguins could stay in the same division. With Sidney Crosby at 33 years old and Claude Giroux turning 33 in January, we only have so many meetings left between those two. I'd like to see as many as possible.
Maybe the league could send the Hurricanes to the Central, considering you already have a pair of southern teams in that division? Just a thought.
As far as Wyshynski's rumored East is concerned, it feels largely like a mutant Metropolitan. Facing the Bruins a few more times a year would certainly fuel the animosity between Philly sports fans and Boston sports fans. And the retooled Sabres, with Taylor Hall in tow, would be an intriguing wild-card team to watch.
We'll see what happens. Here's hoping the final plan doesn't wipe out Flyers-Pens.