NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2020
Latest scheduling speculation, the effect of lost revenue upon players’ salaries, no front office or coaching changes for the Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
COVID-19 AND THE NHL
TSN: Pierre LeBrun said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly maintains the league must stage a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21. However, Daly told LeBrun that wouldn’t preclude delaying the start of next season into November if the 2020 playoffs are staged in July and August.
Bob McKenzie reports International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel isn’t optimistic about staging the 2020 World Championships in Switzerland. Fasel’s still awaiting official word from the Swiss government, but McKenzie believes it’s obvious the tournament will be canceled.
The Memorial Cup, set for Kelowna from May 22-31, probably won’t be held at that time. Nevertheless, the CHL isn’t writing off the playoffs. The Kelowna Rockets have reserved ice space for June if the tournament is to be moved back a month.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL informed the NHL Players Association that revenue losses stemming from the current schedule pause over coronavirus concerns could be a best-case low of a couple of hundred million to a worst-case $1 billion.
Escrow clawbacks under the best case would rise by four percent but would surge as much as 21 percent under the worst case. That would be added to the 14 percent already clawed back from players’ salaries this season. Under the best case, the players would receive 82 percent of the face value of their contracts for this season, or 65 percent under the worst case.
Brooks believes that’s why some players are pitching the idea of resuming the season, with the Stanley Cup playoffs held in August and September. The PA is exploring options to mitigate that increase to put before its membership. They include rolling this year’s escrow into next season, returning the refund due for 2018-19, adding the projected increase to the remaining two paychecks owed to the players this season, or deferring escrow over a period of years when the new US television deal kicks in.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how responsive the league will be to whatever escrow proposal the PA puts forward. Given the unique situation, perhaps the league will be receptive. After all, they’ll still get their escrow money, it’s just that the PA wants to lessen the hit to their membership.
SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports uncertainty over COVID-19 and its effect upon the sports world has NHL players leaning more than ever on their agents for support and guidance.
TORONTO SUN:. With leagues’ schedules paused or canceled and travel limited, Michael Traikos reports the coronavirus has affected how NHL scouts evaluate prospects. It could turn the 2020 NHL Draft into more of a crapshoot.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers yesterday reported Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said there will be no changes to the front office or coaching staff following yet another disappointing season. President John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, and head coach Jeremy Colliton will all return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers, like Powers’ colleague Mark Lazerus, doesn’t see any significant improvement ahead for the Blackhawks. “When the Blackhawks are ambivalent, you potentially get years of mediocrity, with no end in sight,” he wrote. I’ll have more on the Blackhawks in the Rumors section.
NHL.COM: San Jose Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner expects to return as head coach next season. Boughner took over after Peter DeBoer was fired on Dec. 11. Their record since the coaching change was 14-20-3 before the schedule was paused on March 12.