The Montreal Canadiens schedule or format of the season may change

The Montreal Canadiens and the other Canadian organizations still have things to work through as there’s potential talk of changes to already released plans.

The path to the 2020/21 season has been a flurry of peaks and valleys. Tuesday was one of the biggest peaks hockey fans got in a long time as the schedule for the Montreal Canadiens, and the other 30 teams in the league were released. Take that and another signing for the Habs, and there are several things to talk about.

Or so we thought…

The 24 teams in the United States have their schedules and understand their rules. It’s different in Canada as Canadian Health Officials are still engaging in dialogue with the NHL and NHLPA on how to safely go about the season. TSN’s Frank Seravalli supplied the hockey world with a lot of information on the matter late Tuesday night, some of which could lead to a delay to the start of the 2020/21 NHL season.

Although the NHL has submitted a plan to handle the safe transitions of players throughout the season, health officials have created their own method, which boils down to one of two options:

  1. Regular testing for players, staff, coaches, those who are in close contact with all three and household members if players are living at home. The NHL’s current rule is for daily testing to occur for members of the team during training camp and the first four weeks of the season.
  2. Another bubble similar to what was used for the Return to Play in Edmonton and Toronto this past August. This would either be a full bubble for the whole season or one that lasts for 4-6 weeks with a modified one to finish the year.

Option 1 is clearly the more attractive one. However, as Seravalli points out, if option 1 is chosen, there would need to be changes made to the schedules that were just released. This way, games would be grouped together to decrease the amount of travel that needs to take place between provinces throughout the year. Perhaps this creates a schedule where the Montreal Canadiens have their first four games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the following four against the Ottawa Senators as they make their way through Canada.

It wouldn’t be the most attractive schedule, definitely not as dynamic as the current one looks like, but it will be necessary to have the provinces of Canada allow it. If this can’t be figured out, there will be a call for a delay in starting the season. A season that is supposed to start in three weeks.

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The next move is the NHL’s. The health officials of Canada aren’t bringing these things up for no reason, and the league needs to decide on whether they want to abide by these rules or delay the season. Hopefully, they do the right thing, and if Seravalli is right, we’ll find out the answer on Thursday.