NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2020

by | Apr 22, 2020 | News, NHL | 8 comments

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.

The New Jersey Devils interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant (Photo via NHL.com).

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.


  1. Sooooooo if they are practicing in Sweden then why not (a) cancel the regular season (b) pick the 16 playoff teams and send them to Sweden? They will have big empty arena’s like North America and they can TV games back here. Seems a lot EASIER than trying to get 24 teams in 17 USA states and 7 teams in 5 Canadian Provinces not to mention Mayors and Governor’s, PM’s not wanting anybody to cross state lines much less country borders, TO AGREE ON ANYTHING. Load up 16 planes with 16 teams and get this over with in Sweden

    • What do you know of Sweden’s stance on allowing foreigners into the country?

      What do you know of the infection rate, testing ability, and hospital capacity in Sweden?

      • LJ
        At this point nothing and would NOT expect that NHL would do this but I do not see Two Countries Canada & USA, 17 states & 5 Provinces who all have differing opinions on what to do coming to any agreements. I give less than 5% of regular season finishing and less than 20% of some type playoffs. Examples: Governor of California has said he does not see allowing gatherings for rest of 2020. NYC is a total basket case, a lot worse than California.
        Look for two signs of life, does Baseball start playing by July and does the NFL go to camps in late July. Those two are the big fish in the sports pond.

    • Boom/Bust – since the NHL and NHLPA had no problem giving up on the 2004 season and Stanley Cup due to being unable to come to terms over how to divvy up billions of dollars – and at the same time adopt the attitude of “screw the fans” – why are they now so determined to get this season finished when hundreds of thousands are out of work. business are closed all over over, and thousands are dying?

      This time I, for one, say “screw them!”

      • George
        Agree with you, screw them.
        The difference between 2004 and now is that 2004 was a “local” issue, it was a labor / management dispute just about the NHL.
        Other sports were fine, Other means of Entertainment were fine, the general economy was fine. This is not a “local” problem. The economy is crumbling and the whole “Entertainment Sector” has crashed. People are more concerned about paying rent then going to the movies or a concert or a hockey game. Other major sectors that are crashing is OIL, Airlines, Auto’s, and in some places real estate. When money stops changing hands, bill paying stops and business go belly up, business go belly up and they send workers home and tax revenues disappear.
        The cycle has turned and people of all walks of life will have to learn to live on less.

      • I understand the sentiment, guys. Games without fans is like ice cream with out the cream. And I am not a fan of the owners, who routinely treat players like livestock.

        But the tv revenue from playing games in empty stadium helps stabilize the league.

        It also adds entertainment to so many fans who have little money to spend and nowhere to spend what they do have.

        I strongly agree with the stay at home approach while we try and get a handle on covid. But would you rather not have hockey to watch as we do stay home?

      • While I can understand that sentiment LJ, always in the back of my mind is the fact that, almost without exception, the LAST thing on the minds of the owners, the league and the players is Joe Fan. And I don’t mean just hockey.

        Whereas many among the fans have come to the conclusion – and more diehards are beginning to realize it each passing day – that professional sports will be among many businesses to be faced with a new stark reality as the world economy takes a long time to recover, the owners, league administrations, would-be multi-millionaire players, and even those who make a living reporting or commenting on/broadcasting the various games are clinging to the hope that everything will go back to what it was. It will not.

      • IMO they can do this if the teams, players, broadcasters, arena and hotel staff want to and agree to it.
        This issue with opening up all kinds of business like barber shops and restaurants is that then folks spread it to others, so it is not just a decision about each of us personally, but all of us as a society. We’re accountable to each other.
        I think the NHL can actually do this if the everyone involved is quarantined to the same specific areas together. Rink and hotel. They can actually afford that investment as the return is there. Obviously everybody needs to be tested and then tested again and again and after 2 weeks we will know. 1 positive in the group and it’s done.
        If the only human contact they have is with each other and they are all negative then it is doable.
        This includes everybody I mentioned above, and hotel and arena staff compensated accordingly.
        Now making testing available to these folks when others can’t get it, is another question. It’s not like these folks are on the front lines caring for those in need.
        If testing shortages are addressed in NA, in particular the US, then OK. Will that happen? Wouldn’t bet on it in the next few weeks.
        I would love to watch my Bruins hoist the cup but that isn’t a big sacrifice.
        Tough call, I get that it will help many people and not just the players financially, but the question IMO is priorities with regards to testing. That problem needs to be solved for all kinds of business not just the NHL.