NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2020
No decision yet on the fate of the 2020 regular season and playoffs, more speculation over the format of the 2020 post-season, interim coaches facing an uncertain future, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The NHL has not yet decided whether the remainder of the 2019-20 season will be played, or what format the 2020 playoffs might take. In a press release, the league indicated the resumption of play and format would depend upon what transpires between now and when it is permitted to resume play.
The league reiterated it doesn’t anticipate any resumption that would affect its ability to stage the 2020-21 season in its entirety. It also stated it was premature to assume games would be closed to the public whenever the schedule recommences.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the league told the board of governors it is too soon to determine when the schedule will resume, adding it is considering every option. Sources said some team executives prefer the usual 16-team playoff field, while others like an expanded one. A larger playoff format could also affect the draft lottery.
LeBrun speculates the likely postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics (July 24 to Aug. 6) could provide the league more flexibility to return to action this summer. He also said he couldn’t recall a higher level of cooperation between the league and the NHL Players Association than he’s seen right now, but that collaboration could be tested as both sides consider difficult financial decisions that affect both sides.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams on the playoff bubble would prefer an expanded playoff format if the regular season cannot be staged. Whatever that might look like remains to be seen. It will depend upon when they’re approved to resume by health officials in Canada and the United States.
NBC Sports provides national US TV coverage of the NHL. They’re also scheduled to cover the Tokyo Olympics. Postponing the Olympics ensures no broadcast scheduling conflict for the league.
It’s in the best interest of the league and the PA to cooperate during this crisis. They cannot allow petty squabbles of the past to derail efforts to find a workable solution to the anticipated decline in hockey-related revenue brought about by this pandemic. If they can successfully navigate through this, the stage could be set for a rancor-free extension of the current collective bargaining agreement.
STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon observes the pause in the NHL schedule leaves the league’s interim coaches in limbo. They include the Calgary Flames’ Geoff Ward, the Dallas Stars’ Rick Bowness, the San Jose Sharks’ Bob Boughner, the New Jersey Devils’ Alain Nasreddine, and the Minnesota Wild’s Dean Evason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nasreddine could face the most uncertain future. He was hired by Ray Shero, who lost his job a month later. There’s talk the Devils could replace interim GM Tom Fitzgerald. If so, that person could bring in his own bench boss.
TSN: Mark Master reports ice makers in the 31 NHL arenas will face a daunting challenge if the league returns to action this summer.
THE SCORE: The 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League playoffs and the 2020 Memorial Cup have been canceled. It’s the first time in the Cup’s 102-year history that it won’t be awarded to Canada’s top junior team.