The first version of the NHL schedule had the North Division finishing on May 10 along with all the other divisions. That held for a long time until Montreal missed several games after a small outbreak of COVID-19 on the team. The only meaningful change that affected the Leafs was one game at the Ottawa Senators was moved to May 12, and that became the end of the season for the Leafs.
When the Vancouver Canucks faced a serious outbreak that affected almost the entire team, the expectation was that something more drastic might be necessary. At first, on the assumption that the Canucks could get a team together out of their healthy players on the roster the Taxi Squad and from the AHL, they were set to resume today at home vs the Edmonton Oilers and immediately play a back-to-back facing the Leafs on Saturday.
Their schedule as set included one back-to-back every week, ended with a home-and-home against the Calgary Flames on May 15 and 16, and was the worst of both worlds — it pushed the North Division end date to the 16th, while leaving the Canucks running a pointless marathon with a depleted roster. At the time this was devised there was no way the NHL could know how many regular roster players were ready to return. It’s clear, the priorities were compromise, minimal disruption and a complete season for all teams.
After some public complaints by J.T. Miller, the NHL and NHLPA went back to the literal drawing board and came up with a revised schedule and a later start date for the Canucks. This left the Leafs in limbo after their game at home against the Jets on Thursday, but now we have the latest version of the remaining schedule.
The end date has not changed, but many games have. Note: the NHL.com schedule had not been updated at publication time, the end date is May 19.
The Leafs next play Vancouver on Sunday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 20. This change created a domino effect throughout the Leafs remaining games and the entire North Division.
- Game #697, Toronto at Vancouver, scheduled for April 17, is now scheduled for Sunday, April 18 at 7 p.m. ET
- Game #710, Toronto at Vancouver, scheduled for April 19, is now scheduled for Tuesday, April 20 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #726, Toronto at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 21, is now scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. ET
- Game #829, Edmonton at Vancouver, scheduled for April 16, is now scheduled for Monday, May 3 at 10 p.m. ET
- Game #844, Edmonton at Vancouver, scheduled for May 6, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 at 10 p.m. ET
- Game #593, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for May 4, is now scheduled for Thursday, May 6 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #526, Edmonton at Montreal, scheduled for May 11, is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 12 at 5 p.m. ET
- Game #647, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for May 3, is now scheduled for Thursday, May 13 at 9 p.m. ET
- Game #741, Toronto at Winnipeg, scheduled for April 23, is now scheduled for Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. ET
- Game #673, Vancouver at Edmonton, scheduled for May 13, is now scheduled for Saturday, May 15 at TBD
- Game #567, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for April 21, is now scheduled for Sunday, May 16 at TBD
- Game #864, Calgary at Vancouver, scheduled for May 15, is now scheduled for Tuesday, May 18 at TBD
- Game #634, Vancouver at Calgary, scheduled for May 16, is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 19 at TBD
The NHL announced the following start time changes:
- Game #696, Edmonton at Winnipeg, scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 17, is now scheduled to start at 7 p.m. ET
- Game #833, Toronto at Ottawa, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 12, is now scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET
One of the immediate effects is an extra day off before the Winnipeg road trip, which should allow Nick Foligno and Benn Hutton to join the team for a practice. A very small silver lining in all of this.