This week of play within the NHL was hectic as usually, but this week we focus on three important topics that have occurred off ice. Stay tuned as we cover COVID-19 hitting the North Division for the first time this season, the recent changes to the NHL draft lottery, and how the Vancouver Canucks’ social media team battled homophobia on pride night.
COVID-19 Reaches the North Division
After ten weeks of being COVID free, the North Division, more specifically the Montreal Canadiens, has been hit with its first serious case of COVID, resulting in the postponements of several games. A mere few hours before the Canadiens were set to play the first of a three game home stand against the Edmonton Oilers, it was reported that Canadiens players Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi were placed on the leagues COVID protocol list.
Reporters speculated for a while on whether or not the game would be postponed as the status of the Edmonton Oilers most recent COVID tests were unknown. After they were clear, it came down to the Montreal Canadiens.
Once it was determined that Armia and Kotkaniemi were to remain on the COVID protocol list and there other internal COVID related issues within the Montreal Canadiens, the decision was made to postpone Monday nights game to an undetermined date.
The following day, it was also decided that all Montreal Canadiens game through March 29th (including three games against the Edmonton Oilers and one against the Ottawa Senators) were to be postponed at a later date.
The NHL has already clarified that they plan on making up these postponed games past May 8th (when the regular season is scheduled is finished) so it is likely that these Canadiens games will be made up in May.
Until then, all other Canadian teams have been cleared and will continue through with their scheduled games.
Confirmed Changes Made to the NHL Draft Lottery
Effective in 2022, there will be more limits set in place for team in regards to the NHL draft lottery. These changes come as a result to the recent trend in teams taking the first three overall slots and the NHL wanting to balance it out more evenly.
One of these changes, however, begins in 2021:
“The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery will be reduced from three drawings to two as part of changes announced Tuesday”.
According to NHL.com, two other changes will take effect in the 2022 draft lottery which includes:
- “Teams will be restricted from moving up more than 10 spots if it wins one of the lottery draws”
- “Teams cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year period. Wins in the lottery prior to 2022 will not be counted toward this total”
These particular changes give the last place team a smaller chance of receiving the first overall spot, increasing the competition among the league. The ultimately serves as a way to eliminate the “tank” ideal that presents itself among lower placing team towards the end of the season; teams have a new incentive to continue pushing throughout the season and not “give up” in hopes of obtaining a higher draft pick.
Vancouver Canucks Social Media Team Fires Back Against Homophobes on Pride Night
While it’s no secret that the phrase “Hockey is for everyone” has no real substantial value as the NHL has done little to back up that claim, we continue to see multiple strides towards reaching equality in the NHL.
On Monday night, the Vancouver Canucks hosted pride night, a night where everyone recognize and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and attempts to reach out to them to promote equality. Per usual, the Canucks posted various posts about pride on social media and were meant with resistance from people who felt that the LGBTQ+ community had no place being celebrated in sports.
While the NHL typically doesn’t do much to fight back against these homophobic comments, the Canucks social media managers quickly took to the comments to defend the LGBTQ+ community and explain why having a pride night was important.
The belittling comments from raging, anonymous homophobes quickly ceased as the Canucks social media continued to fire back and prove that hockey is for everyone. They were then met with great applause and praise from the public for defending pride night and doing everything in their power to promote inclusion.
While this is considered the bare minimum, it’s great to see people continue to show their support and even begin fighting the resistance publicly.