NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2020
The Devils interview Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching position, the latest speculation on the 2020 Draft, a potential stumbling block for the league’s plans to resume the schedule, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Pierre Lebrun cites sources reporting the New Jersey Devils held a virtual interview last week with former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant regarding their vacant head coaching position. Interim Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald has also spoken to several other candidates. Current interim coach Alain Nasreddine remains a legitimate candidate for the job.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco wonders if Fitzgerald conducting these interviews for a new bench boss indicates he’ll remain the Devils GM. She points out it would make little sense otherwise for him to be interviewing new coaches. The ownership group recently interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis for the management job. Fitzgerald last week said he hadn’t had discussions with ownership regarding the future of his role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Devils all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention if the schedule resumes, it’s understandable that they would want to start interviewing potential coaching candidates now. Mastracco makes a good point about Fitzgerald’s role. A new GM usually wants to hire his coaching staff. Maybe this is an indicator that Fitzgerald will remain the general manager after this season.
LeBrun, Frank Seravalli, and SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported the NHL is considering staging the 2020 Draft in June before the potential resumption of the schedule this summer. It would be unprecedented, as no draft has ever been held before the Stanley Cup playoffs.
While it would create some much-needed buzz for the league, potential complications – such as the draft lottery, conditional draft picks tied to playoff placement, and trading players on current rosters – would have to be addressed. Seravalli indicated this might not be universally embraced by NHL general managers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get the NHL’s desire to draw attention back to its product at a time when there’s little actual sports news taking place. Nevertheless, staging the draft before the season resumes could create unnecessary headaches. Best to stage the draft following the playoffs and avoid unwanted complications.
Friedman also reports the idea of staging neutral-site games could be a no-go. Instead, the league could consider using one NHL city per division for staging its games. The plan remains to resume the regular season.
TSN: Mark Masters reports Carolina Hurricanes goaltender James Reimer advocates for exhibition games if the league returns to action this summer. He feels it would be helpful for goaltenders to have a training camp and get in a couple of exhibition contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would also be beneficial for all players to get back into game shape before resuming the season, especially with the playoffs being staged soon afterward.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes integrating European players will be a stumbling block for the league’s plans to resume the schedule. Different countries have different responses to coronavirus pandemic.
Sweden, for example, has opted for a herd immunity strategy, meaning their social distancing restrictions aren’t as stringent as in North America. Some Swedish NHL players have resumed skating because rinks aren’t closed in their country. The NHL doesn’t intend on issuing a directive to stop them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on where the returning players are coming from, they could be forced to self-quarantine for 14 days before rejoining their teammates. The league will also have to ensure mass testing of all its players before it can resume play.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward and NHLPA player rep Luke Glendening said he and his teammates would love to finish this season. Health and safety concerns remain important issues, but Glendening said his teammates were “chomping at the bit” to return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics of the NHL’s plans to resume the schedule often point to a perceived unwillingness of players on non-playoff clubs, like the Red Wings, to complete the season. It’s assumed they would lack sufficient motivation to return for a season that, for them, is already lost.
Glendening’s comments, however, suggest otherwise. If the players on the worst team in the league are keen to come back, it’s probably safe to assume those on the other non-contenders share that sentiment.
THE ATHLETIC (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED): James Mirtle examined why NHL players opted to defer their final paycheck, pointing out it’s tied directly to the league’s financial health, hockey-related revenue (HRR), the salary cap, and the collective bargaining agreement.
Mirtle also points out the league’s escrow system wasn’t designed for huge drops in HRR. If it spills over into next season, the league and the players will have to come up with other solutions. He suggested a salary rollback combined with a salary-cap drop.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be very interesting to see what happens beyond this season. If there’s a second coronavirus wave that shuts down part or all of next season, it could have far-reaching consequences for the players and the team owners.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin looks at the leading candidates for this season’s major NHL awards. They include Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (Hart Trophy), Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (Norris Trophy), Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (Vezina Trophy), and Colorado Avalanche rookie blueliner Cale Makar (Calder Trophy).
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl said all is going well in his recovery from knee surgery. There’s no indication he’ll miss the start of next season.