The NHL borrowed the North Division from the CFL as well as the three-down league can use hockey’s guidelines for resuming play in 2021.
Commissioner Gary Bettman got the go-ahead from the Public Health Agency of Canada for the NHL teams to play in their home stadiums across the country against only other teams in the north of the border.
It is the first all-Canadian division in the history of the NHL, which had only Canadian teams in its first seven seasons, from 1917-1918 to 1923-1924 season, till the Boston Bruins became the first franchise based in the United States in 1924-1925 season.
To reach an agreement on the 2021 season format, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) determined that the continuing closure of the US-Canada border required realignment. The NHL and the NHLPA attempted to minimize team travel as much as they could by shifting to exclusively intradivisional play.
The current plan of the league is to play games in the home arenas of the teams participating in the season at the same time understanding that most stadiums will not be able to host fans. During the 56-game regular season, the Jets, Maple Leafs, Canucks, Senators, Flames, Oilers, and Canadiens will play against every other team in the North Division up to nine or ten times.
Taking into account the state of the world health crisis in local areas and across the two countries, the NHL is prepared to hold games in one or more neutral site venues for each division if it is necessary.
It is clear that the CFL could follow the NHL’s plan to get the ball back on the field by 2021. All league teams are supported and play within the Canadian borders, just as the NHL has done in building its diversity across Canada.
Bettman set the example for sports to be played in Canada. The CFL has set a full schedule for next season and the NHL has shown the way back to football – Randy Ambrosie, note.