Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley shared his thoughts on how the pandemic could affect the coming season on Wednesday, joining the “Vegas Hockey Hotline” show on local radio station KSHP.
The answer to a question about Nate Schmidt, the former Gold Knight recently traded to the Pacific Division rival of the Vancouver Canucks, was key to that reflection.
Asked about the prospect of his Golden Knights facing off against Schmidt frequently as Canuck next season, Foley replied, “Yeah, but they’re going to play in the Canadian division this year.
Rumors have been circulating lately that the league’s seven Canadian franchises could realign to form a division in the north due to the continued closure of the Canada-U.S. Border during the pandemic.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman brought up this possibility at the end of August, writing this in her column of 31 Thoughts:
“I don’t believe there will be a bubble (or bubbles) next season. The gamers won’t want it, and, quite frankly, neither will the owners. They’ll want a path to dating and wait as long as possible. to try to see one. I think a season of regionalized travel is possible, with teams playing back to back in a city. Yes, that could mean a Canadian division, for just one year. ”
Foley also discussed border issues on Wednesday, speculating whether the league will be able to have teams cross the border at the start of the 2020-21 season.
” It’s a big problem. I don’t think the border will be open until January 1, if it is open on January 1. I really don’t know, ”said the Golden Knights owner. “Because Canada is going through – there are spikes going on and they’re starting to lock in again. Winnipeg locks down. Quebec has peaks in progress. So, you know, I think they’re going to play a Canadian division. . I don’t think they’re going to cross the border. ”
Foley also touched on the expected start date of the league. Earlier this month, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league and NHLPA are considering Jan. 1 as a potential start date for the upcoming season.
The Golden Knights owner has said he’s not convinced the NHL will be up and running anytime soon, particularly over whether fans might be allowed to watch games by then.
“If we don’t play in front of the fans, I don’t know how a lot of teams can do it – including us. It’s going to be very difficult, ”Foley said. “You have to make a serious financial commitment to fund the team if we don’t play in front of the fans. I don’t think Gary Bettman is going to have us flying around and playing in empty arenas. It’s gonna be another plan. ”
“He’s talking about January 1, I don’t know. Maybe February 1st. Perhaps a shortened season, and an accelerated season. ”
The potential of a fast-track season was one of the factors the club chose to keep Marc-André Fleury and Robin Lehner this offseason, according to Foley, even with the two goalkeepers combining for a 12million cap. dollars achieved in 2020-2021.
“That’s one of the reasons I was really in favor of keeping both goalies – I really felt like we were going to play four games in seven nights every week. There will be a back-to-back game almost every week, ”he told me. “… So I always worked to keep these two guards in town. ”
The Golden Knights won a trip to the Western Conference Finals this postseason for the second time in three years of existence, ultimately falling to the Dallas Stars in five games.
Just after signing the best free agent in the market during the offseason, defender Alex Pietrangelo, Foley’s club are set to enter 2020-2021 again as potential candidates.