A new NHL season is about to begin, and it comes after one unlike any other in the history of the league. After the coronavirus pandemic forced the NHL to pause for nearly five months, the 2019-20 season resumed play inside two bubbles in Canada, with the Tampa Bay Lightning exorcising some pretty nasty demons in the playoffs and emerging as Stanley Cup champions.
And it wouldn’t be a bizarre hockey season without labor drama, which we got in the offseason when league owners lobbied players for extra financial concessions — despite the fact that the two sides had seemingly agreed to the terms of a new deal just months earlier. The players union held its ground — but the battle almost sank the ship.
And yet, here we are at the beginning of a new, albeit shortened,1 NHL season. It will almost certainly be a weird one, with teams playing in realigned divisions, which, among other things, separate the Canadian teams from the rest of the league.
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