NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2020
More speculation on the resumption of the schedule, possible options for the 2020 NHL Draft, the latest on Mikko Koivu and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman said his guess is the NHL could return to action this summer, but that will depend on when it will be safe to do so. “When we decide it’s time to play, we’ve got to get everybody back and be comfortable that not only are we not only infecting the population of players but that we’re not bringing the coronavirus from other places into jurisdictions where the players and other personnel are going,” said Bettman. He added health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus are the priority, as well as avoiding the risk of prematurely injuring players as they return.
THE SCORE: Bettman also said the resumption of the season must be done in a way that’s fair and flexible, especially to those teams on the playoff bubble when the schedule was paused. “That’s going to be very important no matter what it is we do and we’re considering all of the alternatives,” he said. “And nothing has been ruled in and nothing has been ruled out.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggested sports could resume this summer, provided fans are kept out of arenas and ballparks and players are screened weekly for COVID-19 to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman’s been catching flak from some fans and pundits over his “fantasy” of resuming play this summer. As I’ve said before, there’s no harm in the league exploring all options. However, it sounds like Bettman and the league board of governors understand that resuming play will be decided by the coronavirus. I think they’ll cancel the season if they cannot ensure the safety and health of the players and everyone involved regardless of where the games are played.
SPORTSNET: The NHL is also considering its options on how it’ll stage the 2020 NHL Draft and the lottery. It could be held virtually, or perhaps a scaled-down version like the one in 2005 following a season-killing lockout. If the league cannot complete this season or stage the Stanley Cup playoffs, perhaps a draft lottery could be held similar to the ’05 draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league addresses this. You can bet any significant changes to the draft lottery probably won’t sit well with the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators. Given the current standings, they have the best odds of winning the lottery.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu may have played his final game for the Wild if the season cannot be resumed. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent following this season. He’s uncertain if he’ll continue his playing career or retire. “I don’t think I have a clear answer”, he said. “If (I said) I haven’t thought about all the options, I’d be lying.” Koivu didn’t rule out finishing his career in Finland or remaining in the game in some capacity.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Sammy Blais to a two-year, $3-million contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have over $75.7 million invested in 18 players for 2020-21. That shrinks how much cap room they’ve got to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators signed defenseman Alexandre Carrier to a three-year, two-way contract. He’s appeared in five games with the Predators since 2018-19.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets assistant coach Todd Woodcroft is the new head coach of the University of Vermont men’s hockey program.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks canceled its 2020 fan convention in July because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CALGARY SUN: Former Flames head coach Bill Peters was hired Wednesday as the head coach of KHL team Avtomobilist in Yekaterinburg, Russia.