Get ready for a lot of Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian drama.
Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland confirmed Monday afternoon that his club will be playing the Calgary Flames 10 times in the upcoming 56-game 2020-21 season.
Oilers GM Ken Holland confirms there will be ten Battle of Alberta meetings this season.#Flames will get an extra game against Edmonton and will play one other team ten times. They’ll play the other four teams on nine occasions.
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) December 21, 2020
The news comes on the heels of an official announcement from the NHL on Sunday laying out four realigned divisions for the upcoming season. The release confirmed the implementation of a new “North Division” in 2020-21 featuring all seven Canadian NHL teams.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 20, 2020
Each of the NHL’s 31 teams will face off in 2020-21 exclusively against divisional opponents over a 56-game schedule. For the Flames, that means they’ll be staying in Canada all season.
Monday’s confirmation from Holland means that the Flames will be playing 10 games against the Oilers and one other Canadian team plus nine games against four other Canadian teams.
The Battle of Alberta is a long-standing provincial rivalry that pre-dates both the Flames and the Oilers; however, the two teams took the back-and-forth to new heights at their respective peaks in the 1980s.
The hate died down slightly in the 1990s and 2000s as the two teams took turns at the bottom of the league standings. The Flames and Oilers have qualified for the playoffs in the same year just twice (2006 and 2017) since their last playoff meeting in 1991.
Last season’s Battle of Alberta meetings saw numerous run-ins between key players on both sides, with Tkachuk and Kassian notably colliding repeatedly during play and in post-whistle scrums. Goaltenders Mike Smith and Cam Talbot also dropped the blockers in the final meeting of the season.
The 2020-21 NHL season is slated to begin on Jan. 13, 2021.