The Colorado Avalanche will be starting their new season on January 13 in a whole new division.
Colorado Avalanche players are returning to Denver in anticipation of the upcoming season. They’ll begin training camp on January 3, with the regular season starting January 13. There will be no preseason games.
The 2020-21 season will only consist of 56 games. All of the games will be between teams in the same division, which have been shifted. The rational for these changes is to minimize travel. Likewise, teams can’t travel at all between Canada and the United States. Therefore, the Canadian teams had to become their own division.
We had a look at the potential division realignment in a previous post. However, there was a minor change that saw Dallas become aligned with the Central while Minnesota took their spot in the West. (How Minnesota is more western than Texas, I have no idea.) Here is Colorado’s division:
- Anaheim Ducks
- Arizona Coyotes
- Colorado Avalanche
- LA Kings
- Minnesota Wild
- San Jose Sharks
- St. Louis Blues
- Vegas Golden Knights
The Avalanche will play only those teams, facing them eight times each. The season will conclude May 8 at which time a traditional best-of-seven, four-round playoffs will commence.
The top four teams in each division will qualify for the playoffs. For the first two rounds, they will still only play each other. In the third round, they’ll be seeded according to points to play in the Semifinals.
At the time of writing, the teams were expected to play in their home arenas with two exceptions — San Jose and Vancouver. Santa Clara County has banned contact sports until at least January 8, so the Sharks are going to train and potentially start their season in Arizona. The Canucks are allowed to play in their arena, but the British Columbia health minister won’t allow teams to travel to the province to play them.
Most arenas will not allow fans to attend games, at least at first. The newly-named Ball Arena is one of those that will not allow even a percentage of fans into the building. Other teams can make their own allowances based on local regulations. Dallas, for example, will allow around 5,000 people in to watch games.
And now for some observations. First of all, while I think Dallas should have been aligned in the West, I’m glad they weren’t. The Avalanche struggled with the Stars last season, eventually losing in the playoffs to them. I’m happy Colorado can be done with them for a while.
Second of all — and I acknowledge I may come to regret saying this — I’m glad the Wild were aligned to the West. The two teams have been brewing something of a rivalry over the last few seasons, with Colorado coming out on top the last couple years.
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Speaking of rivalries, teams are going to start hating each other. They’ll see only the same seven (or six in Canada) opponents from January to May. Players will hold grudges over incidents that happened not so long ago. They’ll keep grinding at each other through eight full games! We’re likely to see some hard-nosed hockey for those five months before the playoffs even kick off — at which time the intensity really begins!
Oh, and the playoffs — barring some epic collapse (and anything is possible of course), the Avalanche are almost assured a playoffs spot considering their competition. The biggest barriers to success are going to be the Blues and the Knights — neither of which I’m happy to see Colorado face eight times. Oh, and health — the Avs need to stay healthy.
Finally, about the lack of fans in attendance at Ball Arena — it’s the right move. The virus is too unpredictable. Quarters in the arena are too enclosed, unlike with football stadiums. Even if you can maintain distance between fans in the seats, they still have to get to those seats. There will be crowds at concessions and in bathrooms.
Hey, we all want to get back to normal. It’s just going to take a long time. But, in the meantime, we’ll have some Colorado Avalanche hockey to enjoy. And, boy, do I already despise all seven of the teams the Avs will be facing over and over again!