The 2020–21 NHL season was originally planned to begin in October 2020 and end with the Stanley Cup being awarded in June 2021, but this had to be changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On December 20, the league unveiled its plans for a 56-game regular season and that the teams would temporarily be realigned into four divisions.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions traveling into and out of Canada, all seven Canadian teams were placed in one division. The only contentious issue with the temporary realignment was which two teams in the Central Time Zone would have to join the West Division.
They would have more travel time playing games in the Pacific Time Zone, but they would be against the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, three of the seven teams that did not qualify for the expanded 24-team 2020 playoffs.
It was eventually decided to leave the Dallas Stars in the Central to make up for the team being in the Pacific Division from 1998 to 2013, and the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues moved to the West.
Laryngeal fractures in ice hockey players
An interesting article entitled: Laryngeal fractures in professional and semiprofessional ice hockey players, published on the Laryngoscope investigative otolaryngology, explains the relationship between these particular fractures and athletes who practice ice hockey, of which we can read an abstrac below: "Objective: Injuries in professional ice hockey players are common, however significant laryngeal trauma is rare.
Here, we present a case series of professional and semiprofessional ice hockey players to demonstrate the mechanism and nature of laryngeal injuries they sustain during play, and to recommend best practices for treatment, prevention, and return to the ice.
Methods: A retrospective case review was done of hockey-related laryngeal injuries between 2016 and 2019 at a tertiary laryngology practice. Only semiprofessional and professional hockey players were included. Results: In total, four cases were included.
All cases involved trauma from a hockey puck to the neck. No cases were the result of punching, fighting, high sticks or routine checking. Notably, 1 of 4 presented with severe airway compromise, requiring urgent intubation, whereas most presented with pain or a significant voice complaint.
Two patients required operative intervention with open reduction and internal fixation of significantly displaced fractures. One patient experienced significant mucosal disruption with cartilaginous exposure at the posterior vocal complex requiring microflap.
The average return to ice was 6 weeks for those who required operative intervention and 4 weeks for those who were managed conservatively. One patient had persistent mild dysphonia and all others had a return to baseline phonation.
None were wearing neck guards or other protective equipment at the time of injury. Conclusion: Though voice and airway injuries are rarely sustained by ice hockey players, they may require urgent intervention. We recommend that protective equipment be worn and improved to prevent laryngeal trauma."