With the new divisions coming to the NHL for the 2021 season, three groups of 8 in the US, and all 7 teams in Canada will play in self contained divisions. Many of the teams in this year’s divisions are together every year. Some teams aren’t, and that may lead to some bad blood between two teams that may not always have it.
Canada (North, I guess)
Vancouver vs Toronto/Montreal: Whenever you think about Canada, you probably think about Toronto, or places near it. Unless you think about the French part, then you think of Montreal. Those two cities are the nexus of population in Canada, and they might be lead to believe that they are the best city in Canada. They are not. Canada doesn’t get much for a West Coast, thanks to Atlanta and the Rocky and Cascade Mountains, but they sure made the most of it. Vancouver can show off to the rest of Canada before they spurn them for a real geographic rival next season.
Boston vs New York Rangers: I know, it’s exhausting, because all other sports seem to have a storied New York – Boston rivalry. Sure, they are exhausting and overwrought in all those other leagues, and would surely fall into that trap in the NHL, but this is a one year thing! It’s not so bad! Besides, in all those other leagues, the unspoken rivalry is all of the other teams versus Boston and New York, and that’s not really possible this year. Besides, are you going to call the Penguins or Capitals underdogs?
Also, the Rangers get the nod because they are older than the Islanders. The Islanders are still a Long Island team to me.
Chicago vs Detroit: I guess, whatever. You might hear about this one a lot, despite the fact that these two teams are terrible.
Minnesota vs Anaheim: A lot of people spoke about how tough it was that St. Louis is stuck playing against west coast teams, and how hard that will be for them. At least the Blues play west of the Mississippi! Minnesota has a kinship with the Great Lakes, and a more natural geographic rivalry with Chicago and Detroit because of the similarity. St. Paul and St. Louis share half of the same name, but not much else in common, and they are each other’s closest rival, geographically, this year. Hell, Dallas is playing in the Central division instead of those two.
St. Louis and St. Paul both got jobbed in the realignment, but St. Louis gets more attention, because they are a better team. Dallas should be playing in the west, because they are, you know, further west.
Anyways, Minnesota’s trips to LA are going to be the longest American trip in the league this year (and vice versa, of course), traveling across two time zones and from a Canadian border state to within a few hours drive of Mexico. The Ducks and the Wild have some bad blood, though, over the last 20 or so years, thanks to some playoff encounters. I’m still salty over the fact that the Mighty Ducks name didn’t stay in Minnesota, as it should have.