NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2019
Niklas Kronwall retires, Coyotes officially introduce Phil Kessel, the latest NHL CBA speculation, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE DETROIT NEWS: After 15 NHL seasons, all of them with the Red Wings, defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement yesterday. He’ll stay with the team as a special advisor to general manager Steve Yzerman, who praised Kronwall as one of the best two-way blueliners of his era.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kronwall joined the Wings during their years as a league powerhouse, helping them reach two Stanley Cup Finals and winning the Cup in 2008. Known for his physical style of play, any player on the receiving end of his big hits were said to be “Kronwalled.” Yzerman already prepared for the possibility of Kronwall’s retirement, signing Patrik Nemeth this summer.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday formally introduced winger Phil Kessel to the Arizona media. Acquired earlier this summer in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kessel hopes to improve the Coyotes and grow their fan base.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes escrow is the key to securing an extension to the current NHL collective bargaining agreement. It could be attained if the league figures out a way to reduce escrow payments by the players by four-to-six percent.
One way would be freezing or limiting the rise of the salary cap. If revenue keeps rising (especially under a new U.S. TV deal and player tracking technology that would increase revenue from legalized gambling), that would reduce the escrow claw-backs from players’ salaries.
Campbell points out that would mean less spendable money in the system. It would affect players seeking new contracts and lead to more contract buyouts, cost-cutting trades, and demotions to the minors.
Campbell also cites a league source claiming the NHLPA’s five-percent escalator could be abolished. “And now it’s a matter of needing your revenues to grow at a greater rate than the growth in the upper limit. So you either freeze the upper limit, which would bring a more dramatic reduction in escrow, or you fix the upper limit for a number of years.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league and the PA address the escrow issue. The PA executive and other players will be meeting today in Chicago to review their current negotiations with the league and plan their next move. They have until Sept. 15 to exercise their early opt-out clause. However, there’s speculation that date could be extended up to Jan. 1 to allow more time to work out a three-year CBA extension to 2024-25.
YARDBARKER: The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly making progress with restricted free agent center Adrian Kempe. It’s expected he’ll sign a short-term bridge deal.
CBS SPORTS: Winger Stefan Noesen signed a professional tryout agreement with the Dallas Stars. Meanwhile, former 2013 first-round pick Kerby Rychel signed a one-year contract with KHL club Neftekhimik.
FOXSPORTS OHIO: Former Columbus Blue Jacket Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre has joined the club’s broadcast team as an in-studio analyst.
THE SCORE: Barrie Colts head coach and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk is stepping aside for health reasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The club didn’t reveal any further details regarding Hawerchuk’s condition. Here’s hoping he gets well soon.
TSN: Rick Olcyzk joined the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. A former Toronto Maple Leafs scout, he also spent four seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes as an assistant general manager alongside Seattle GM Ron Francis.
While focus is on @NHLPA and Sept. 15, a reminder NHL officials’ contract expired Aug. 31. Negotiations are continuing, however, and officials, who go to training camp Saturday, are optimistic they’ll have a new deal before the season starts.
— Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) September 3, 2019