No Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, or New York Rangers? Seriously, the COVID-19 NHL 2020-21 season could drag the Pittsburgh Penguins from their traditional Patrick-slash-Metropolitan Division rivals due to a single-season COVID-19 realignment, according to ESPN scribe Greg Wyshynski.
The Penguins would keep rivals Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings. In large part, the newly formed Central Division would ignore conference boundaries to accommodate the need for the all-Canadian division. Teams are unable to cross borders due to COVID quarantine restrictions.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 19, 2020
Some discussions between the NHL and NHLPA have included a season in which teams exclusively play divisional games, according to reports from Sportnet. The Penguins could get a healthy dose of non-traditional rivals Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The division would reunite Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis, which were formerly Norris Division rivals until Detroit flipped to the Eastern Conference in 2012-13.
It would be fun to see the Norris gang reunited, and it might be fun to see the Penguins against St. Louis and Tampa Bay six or seven times. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Chicago’s dynamic duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Except for several years in the 1990s, the Penguins have otherwise played their regional rivals since joining the Patrick Division in 1981.
Longtime Pittsburgh Penguins fans may remember the NHL moved the Penguins from the Patrick Division to the Northeast Division in 1992-93. The Penguins battled the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Hartford Whalers, Ottawa Senators, and Quebec Nordiques until 1998.
The division wasn’t great for the Penguins, but the jerseys of all involved were spectacular.
The remainder of the Metro Division could join the Atlantic Division’s remainder to form the Eastern Division. The Eastern Division would have the Metro refugees Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, and Carolina Hurricanes join the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres.
The Toronto Maples Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators would be part of the Canadian Division.