Out of the bubble, the NHL opens a 56-game season Wednesday with a different format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 31 teams were split into four divisions with the seven teams based in Canada grouped together in the North Division due to travel restrictions. Three eight-team divisions split up the rest of the league with teams only facing opponents in their own division during the regular season and the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Blues ended up in the West with Minnesota, Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vegas.
Sports leagues are notoriously bad at geography.
Atlanta and Cincinnati were once in the National League West. Milwaukee is northwest of Chicago, but the Brewers once played in the American League East while the White Sox were in the west. Memphis is on the east side of the Mississippi, but the Grizzlies are in the Western Conference, along with New Orleans and Minnesota, only because they started in Vancouver.
Dallas is in the NFC East in football, the AL West in baseball, the Western Conference in the NBA and now the Central in the NHL.
Dallas is southwest of St. Louis on a map, but the Blues are in the West, which means my brother, who lives in Dallas, will not be able to see the Blues this season. Then again, neither will Blues fans in St. Louis.
Fans will not be allowed to attend games at the Enterprise Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the start of the season and the team says no timeline has been set for when fans can return.
At first glance, it looks like a lot of late nights for Blues fans but fortunately, 60% of games will start at 7 p.m. or earlier. The puck will drop at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday for the season opener at Colorado as part of a national broadcast, one of the 40% that will make night owls out of Blues fans. The <i>St. Louis Post-Dispatch</i> reports that the number of 8 p.m. start times is only three more than last season.
That’s good news for me.
Each night on the sports desk we face the same question — will that game end before deadline?
Whenever the Blues, or Cardinals, head to the west coast that’s an easy answer.
Those are the nights I finally get to watch sports.
Covering sports and watching them are two entirely different things. It’s like any other job, and being able to relieve some stress from the day by watching a game is always an enjoyable escape.
Working nights, of course, means the rest of the family is already in bed, so no yelling at the power-play unit or reacting to a close call in front of the net.
Then again, with everything on-demand, we can watch games on our time or view a shortened version, read a recap at darnews.com and get in-depth stats whenever we want.
It’s a golden age of fandom.