We could debate whether the NHL should conduct their season amid a raging pandemic, but we won’t. For this hockey enthusiast, there is no debate. Although it was in question as the NHL team Owners and the NHL Player’s Association went back and forth on the terms under which is played, the puck dropped on a 56-game schedule on January 13th.
The league realigned the divisions, due to the cross border restrictions. For the 2021 season only, there is a Northern Division, comprised of the seven Canadian teams, and three eight-team divisions through the United States: the East Division, Central Division, and the West Division. Tight Covid-19 protocols are in place, approved by the league, the teams and the jurisdictions each team plays within.
The NHL schedule accounts for the possibility of one – or more – players contracting Covid-19 throughout the season, causing the postponing of games. The schedule maker has built-in enough flexibility to allow for canceled and rescheduled games. To prevent any team from being caught short in illness or injury, a Taxi Squad travels with the team. The Taxi Squad is a group of up to six eligible players who can join the main team’s roster at a moment’s notice.
When most people are beginning to feel the isolating and frustrating effects of sheltering at home as required by several jurisdictions across North America, NHL hockey is a welcomed distraction.