Players love home playoffs, not regional divisions
To accommodate travel restrictions and financial hardships related to the COVID-19 pandemic that continued throughout the 2020-21 season, the NHL temporarily created four regional divisions which included a grouping of uniquely Canadian clubs in due to the continued closure of the border between Canada and the United States to non-essential travel.
According to Greg Wyshynski from ESPN, a poll released Thursday by the NHL Players Association shows that 68% of 447 players surveyed said they didn’t want regional divisions to stay beyond the current campaign. However, 66% of players responded that they were in favor of the 2020-21 “homestand” series schedule which included clubs hosting the same opponent for back-to-back games similar to what happens in MLB. Players support this type of schedule because it reduces wear and tear caused by travel.
In the current format, teams only played against divisional opponents from the start of the regular season until the first two rounds of the playoffs. Wyshynski added that the NHL has already confirmed it is returning to its standard divisions for the 2021-22 campaign.
While the NHL has reportedly targeted October 12 as the start date for the upcoming season, the league has yet to release a schedule as it’s unclear whether Canadian teams will be allowed to host opponents without staff having to. complete periods of isolation.