Could the Montreal Canadiens and the city of Montreal be stripped of another NHL Entry Draft?
In his annual All-Star State of The League press conference at the 2022 NHL All-Star weekend in Las Vegas, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman painted a bleak outlook for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft not only not taking place in Montreal, as originally planned at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, but actually being moved to another NHL city.
When NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was suggesting that the draft may be moved to a virtual draft for a third straight year, Bettman cut him off and suggested it could still be in-person at another NHL arena.
“We’re looking at going virtual if we can’t be in Montreal,” Daly originally said.
“Actually I think we’re looking into another city,” Bettman interrupted.
The Habs and the city of Montreal were scheduled to host the 2020 NHL Draft but that was moved to a virtual event for health and safety precautions due to COVID-19. As a result, the Montreal Canadiens were then awarded the 2022 NHL Entry Draft and while it is still on and scheduled for July 7-8 at the Bell Centre, the event appears very much up in the air.
With the city and the province under strict COVID restrictions, the Montreal Canadiens are currently limited to a maximum of 500 fans in attendance for their scheduled games on Feb. 8, 10, 12, and 13. With these limitations, there are no spectators in the stands, with only a few suites open. The club is currently awaiting an update on Public Health restrictions prior to making announcements for home games past Feb. 17.
With the Montreal Canadiens (8-29-7, 23 pts) dead last in the NHL and mired in what thus far is the second-worst regular season in the storied franchises 113 seasons in the NHL, the 2022 NHL Draft taking place in Montreal has served as a silver lining. If the NHL Draft can take place in Montreal in July and the Habs remain at the bottom of the standings, they have the best chance of landing top prospect Shane Wright and having a 1-2 punch of 2022 All-Star Nick Suzuki and Wright up the middle for years to come. Making that monumental selection at the Bell Centre would be a boost in morale for Montreal Canadiens after this dismal season to forget.