NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2020

by | Apr 23, 2020 | News, NHL | 16 comments

The latest on the league’s potential plans to resume the schedule in July, stage the draft in June and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet the NHL is considering a scenario of resuming the season by staging three games per day in arenas without fans. He said the number of cities and locations hasn’t been determined yet, but indicated they would be in areas that aren’t COVID-19 hot spots.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

The league also ruled out holding games in non-NHL neutral site cities because NHL arenas are best equipped to handle its needs if it decides to centralize games. Bettman stated the NHL isn’t in a race to resume action, stressing the importance of ensuring everyone involved is safe and healthy.

THE SCORE: Florida Panthers president Matthew Caldwell told a conference call yesterday the league is considering returning to action in July.

“At least for the NHL, we’re trying to target sometime in July and then when we feel that players are safe, we have enough testing, and have enough ways to get back on the ice, it’s probably going to be contained to playing at four or five neutral sites, so that’s all being discussed right now,” Caldwell said. “My guess is that we would start with either limited fans or empty arenas.” He added nothing’s been finalized, “but this is the direction things are going.”

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports it appears the league intends to complete its 82-game schedule divided into divisions and following an intradivisional schedule.

“Columbus and Carolina (Raleigh) would be options for the Metro Division; Tampa Bay and Florida (Sunrise) in the Atlantic; Minnesota and perhaps Colorado or Dallas in the Central and Calgary and Edmonton among those in the Pacific,” writes Brooks, who adds Las Vegas is also under consideration for a Pacific Division location.

Team presidents have been pushing for completing the schedule, rather than implementing an immediate, expanded playoff schedule. Plans also include expanding each team’s active roster to 30 players.

OTTAWA SUN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly remains optimistic about resuming the schedule this summer. “We have to be prepared for every eventuality. We need to do our due diligence so that the time it takes for us to respond to the circumstances is basically that the work is done and the only thing that needs to be implemented is the decision,” said Daly.

He added there’s been growing optimism over the past couple of weeks around the league. He also stressed holding those games would have to be done in a safe environment with plenty of readily-available testing.

Daly said the league hasn’t closed the door on staging game in non-NHL cities, but felt it makes more logistical sense to play neutral-site games in NHL cities. He said the league has been in touch with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s office to keep them informed on the league’s plans for the seven Canadian franchises.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Alberta premier Jason Kenney said Bettman spoke to him about staging 2020 NHL playoff games in Alberta. Reports have suggested Edmonton as an option. The city has a high number of people tested for COVID-19 but a low number of confirmed cases and deaths per million.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes told the NHL it was interested in having its state serve as a host site to resume the schedule. The team has declined to comment on the matter.


SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman, Daly, and Caldwell aren’t definitively saying the league is returning to action in July. Nevertheless, it appears their wish is to resume the schedule during that month in NHL cities with the highest COVID-19 testing and the lowest confirmed cases and deaths.

Health and safety, however, remain primary concerns. League officials appear to be hoping for a flattening of the coronavirus curve in the cities they’re looking at staging their games. They also want to make sure the players have a training camp period (perhaps in June?) to get back into game shape and avoid unnecessary injuries. There must also be a sufficient self-quarantine period for players returning from European countries.

As a freelancer, I’ll be thrilled if the NHL returns in July. My income has taken a substantial hit since the schedule was paused in mid-March, so a resumption of the season will benefit me. However, I don’t want to see the league rush its return, only to end up shuttering again within weeks because a player or a league official tested positive for COVID-19. They must be certain they can ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.

Bettman also said the league floated the idea to the general managers of holding the 2020 NHL Draft in June before the season ends. “No decision has been made. And I said as we were getting some feedback, ‘We don’t live in a world of perfect anymore. We’re going to have to make adjustments.’

SPORTSNET: Daly said the league must decide “relatively quickly” if it’ll hold the draft in June. He said the league will consult with all 31 teams before deciding on staging a virtual draft two months from now.

TSN: NHL general managers will be paying close attention to the NFL’s 2020 Draft, which begins today and runs through Saturday, April 25. League commissioner Roger Goodell will be hosting a virtual draft, with team executives making their selections remotely from their homes.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun examined the pros and cons of staging the NHL Draft in June ahead of the resumption of the schedule. While most team executives he spoke to seem cool to the idea, LeBrun speculates the league’s trial balloon was less to receive feedback and more of a heads-up of what is coming.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league could be trying to gin up some excitement among sports fans for their product with a June draft, especially if a resumption of the season gets pushed ahead to August. Doing so, however, means untangling several problems, such as sorting out the draft lottery and addressing the issue of conditional draft picks exchanged in previous trades. There won’t be trades involving NHL players in a June draft if the league is returning to action soon afterward.


NATIONAL POST: NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr isn’t ruling out the possibility of working out a multi-year extension to the current collective bargaining agreement with the NHL.

“It’s easy to envision scenarios in which in order to resolve everything we need to resolve, it would be much easier to do it in the context of a multi-year arrangement rather than a single year,” said Fehr. “Whether that’s going to come to pass remains to be seen. But it is certainly conceivable.”

Fehr said he and league commissioner Gary Bettman speak almost daily about the issues currently facing the league amid the coronavirus pandemic. For now, their focus is on salvaging this season.

THE SCORE: Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka said the current NHL schedule hiatus won’t prevent his club from making a contract offer to Taylor Hall. The 28-year-old winger is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

TSN: Jacob Markstrom said his goal is to stay with the Vancouver Canucks. The 30-year-old goaltender will become a UFA following this season.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard donated $50K worth of N95 masks to the Detroit Medical Center.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights re-signed Nicolas Roy to a two-year contract extension worth an average of $750,000 a year.

NJ.COM: Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine hopes to stay on as their full-time coach after this season.

TWINCITES.COM: Minnesota Wild interim coach Dean Evason hopes he’s done enough to stay on as the club’s full-time bench boss.


  1. Re :

    “ Larry Brooks reports it appears the league intends to complete its 82-game schedule divided into divisions and following an intradivisional schedule.”

    I can’t possibly fathom the league completing all 82 games per team…. starting in July and playoffs!!!!!

    There would have to be an off season; then 20-21 pre-season; season; playoffs…..

    Under the above scenario ‘20 cup is awarded late Sep at the earliest ; forcing ‘21 Cup into mid/late July ‘21; delaying start of ‘21/‘22 season

    How did discussions regarding a possible roll-back to standings as at Game 68 ; suddenly jump to the possibility of completing all 82 games for all teams?

    To me…. not probable at all

    Also re draft prior to reg season (if at all) resumption…. how would they seed the draft picks in the lottery bowl…. under draft then resuming full season ; a team could win the lottery (Lafreniere) as a current bubble (but just below the WC line) team; and also re-surge and eventually win the SC…. certainly unlikely but possible under that scenario

    Panthers would as at now be in the lottery pool (very low odds but IN the pool)…. but are 3 points back of Leafs ; 1 game in hand ; and a game head-to-head…. flipping into 3rd in Atl and ousting Leafs from playoffs is not out of the question with a resumption of schedule

    I want to see hockey badly; but I’m like Lyle in that I’ve lost huge during Covid (I’m currently covering staff salaries with revenues almost zero)… but public safety is paramount …. aggressive resumption timelines with early scheduled games with fans in seats ….. no IMHO

    MY suggestion is resume only to get teams to about 74 games or so and no games for the Cal teams ; Det; Ottw; Buff ; NJ and Montreal …. they can’t mathematically get in if the schedule is only going to 74…. they sit ranked as is (note Points % won’t change order)

    Start first week in July ; exhibition/practise; complete 74 games by late July; draft right after season; compressed playoffs … two rounds best of 5; semis and SC still best of 7

    7 weeks or soafter Cup awarded…. training Camp and pre-season

    No all-star break; no 5 day lay-off … tighten playoff schedule just a bit…. gets ‘21 Cup awarded in June


    • Pengy i agree doesn’t make sense to finish all 82 games; However, i do believe if the season is to resume that they should go to the 75 game mark.

      I do not believe it’s in anyone best interest to go directly to the playoffs. Layoff is way to long hockey would be sloppy at best.

      Manitoba as of today only has 97 active cases, but being the only Canadian team in its division probably the reason it wasn’t or isn’t given consideration.

      Not sure you could have a draft before the playoffs. This is the time of the year you see some players being moved.

      NHL and NHLPA just need to agree to push both the draft and UFA season until the season is over.

      • Caper, yep.
        I agree they should look at WPG as that has to be a factor.
        I watched the Bettman interview on Sportsnet last night and a couple of the determining factors was what he called the “back of the house”. Meaning dressing rooms, practice rink, TV, sanitation capabilities. IE in some of the newer facilities like Edmonton they can actually heat the dressing room up enough to sanitize it (which blew my mind), they have another rink as part of the building that can be used for practices.
        Another factor is hotels in close proximity to the arena.

      • Hi Caper

        I’m on board with 74 or 75…. good to go; but if 74 eliminate the teams I’ve said…. useless reg season for them…. can’t get in

        If 75… Montreal should play… still has mathematical chance if getting in

        I think those remaining 4-6 games (pending 74 or 75) should include any games in which a team has yet to play at least 2 games against (these would be inter-conference if any at all); with the balance being inter-Div games.

        Teams need to end up balanced at end wrt “home” games (last changes on face-offs [match-up] advantages

        Draft must be post reg season (if reg season happens)

        I’m very anti-68 roll back….

        the home/away won’t be the same; and

        purges recent winning streaks (punitive to those teams) ; and losing streaks (artificial advantage to those teams)

        most importantly skews results favouring teams that played or were schedule for last 14 games (games 69 — 82) played against high-end/tougher opponents and against teams who were looking towards a set of final games generally against non-playoff/weaker teams

    • Rolling back to 68 games is good for teams that are currently on losing streaks but hurts teams that have been winning. Nashville and Winnipeg hold the wild card spots in the west but if you roll back to 68 games the Jets lose 6 points and drop out of the playoffs and the Preds lose 2 points and are also out of the playoffs while the Wild and Canucks who have lost their last games would get in. How can you justify that? Winning percentage doesn’t give or take from anyone – it is what it is.

      • Gored, rolling it back to 68 gp would also be a logistical nightmare virtually impossible to accomplish.

        As matters now stand, just 2 teams have played 68 games – Carolina and NYI.

        10 have played 69: Fla, Buff, Wash, Pha, Pitt, NJ, Dal, Nash, Minn, Vanc

        11 have played 70: Bos, TB, Tor, Clb, NYR, Col, Chi, Cgy, Ariz, L.A., SJ

        7 have played 71: Mtl, Ott, Det, StL, Wpg, Veg,m Ana

        So, in effect, the seasons for Carolina and the NYI would be over – but certainly amoig the teams having played 71 some would have been against Carolina and NYI. So, how do they knock those games of the 71-gp teams against the Hurricanes and Islanders but not delete those same games from Carolina and NYI?

        And, so, round and round they’d go. It’s just not feasible.

      • Hi Gored 1970

        Coming back to page after a couple of hours and reading/responding North to South and now realize that my response to Caper above has unintentionally duplicated some of ur post/mindset

        Sorry …. just meant that we’re simpatico in those points

    • IMHO never ever should a Larry Brooks report even be read let alone considered to have any merit.

  2. Lyle, reading the reports today is a bit like reading a novel. It just doesn’t sound real or practical in any way. In fact, it sounds dangerous.
    Helene Elliot’s comments ring true to me – the league is throwing lots of mud at the wall and seeing what is popular and what sticks.
    Not a strategy that this fan can accept.

    • BC – agree
      As a guess they are desperate for one more payday from TV revenue. I think they see that big companies that buy commercial time are being creamed, Oil, auto’s, major retailers, airlines etc. If they see no light until July and the games have to be played in a few empty rinks, then they already know that no chance will 31 teams be ready to go in October with fans in the stands. The other thing that strikes me as odd is why working on CBO now, they can’t even figure out when they can play games again in an empty arena , and we are suppose to believe that in October 31 teams will have fans in the stands, ready to play a full slate of games like nothing ever changed ? I would think before extending or signing a new agreement that they would want to know about projected ticket revenue and TV revenue. My guess is you won’t see NHL games with fans in the stands until early January 2021 at the earliest. That would also mean no CFL, certainly no college football, no MLB and perhaps NFL starts early November and plays 1/2 year.
      The NBA can always play in China where they have their expensive shoes made,

      • Hey Boom/Bust, agree that they will not be playing games with fans in the stands in October. This virus isn’t going to disappear and it won’t be safe until 60-70% of the population is immune through infection or a vaccine.
        Ain’t gonna be in October, very unlikely for Q1 of 2021.
        The reason to extend the agreement is there are already mechanisms to deal with the revenue shortfall.
        2 choices:
        – reduce the cap. Can’t see it.
        – increase escrow. Yep.

      • Ray
        All 31 teams have an AHL team and teams usually have 45-50 contracts total. My guess is that there are 50-60 Canadian Junior Teams and 15-20 teams in the US Junior League and there are NHL draft picks spread all over US Colleges.
        Even if there is an NHL season what do you do with the other 30-4-50 players you have under contract or have draft rights to ?

      • I have no idea what you do with those players Boom/Bust.
        Junior guys stay in Jr if eligible. Will they play with no fans? Doubt it. Nothing to do with NHL unless they have annual signing bonus payments due.
        I guess they sit there.
        AHL – depends on the contracts and what they say. They have very little TV revenue, so postponed, with pay or without pay will likely be up to the teams and the league, until there are fans. Depends on the agreement(s).
        There are no great solutions, just least bad.

  3. First off, the NHL should avoid Florida period. All cities now have good info regarding the infection/testing rates that they can isolate teams and officials and keep everyone isolated so the virus can’t infect the sequestered group. Easier said than done but I would hope St. Louis will be one of the locales chosen.

    The real dilemma lies with first, draft order before we award the cup – ie who drafts where – think of teams like the Leafs and Panthers points apart…who’s to say if the season continued the Leafs would be out and panthers in? What about Boston, they pick last because they ended up on the top of the standings when play was halted but what if this year is the one they get on the wrong side a 4 game sweep and the first team eliminated?

    They need to figure that out…otherwise they’ll have to adopt a solution similar to what happened the last time when we had no drafting order after the lockout – lottery pick with random draw to set the draft order.

    The second thing most people miss is that the NHL year end is June 30th and the new season begins July 1. There are so many issues with this but the one I’m thinking of is that all the reported revenue/profits are based on those dates which makes me wonder how this will affect the cap since if the games where to start back up after July 1, that revenue will count towards 21-22 season thus artificially inflated it unless they do something like an escrow for next years cap. In an attempt to return to normalcy I think that’s something to consider.

    • @Ron the problem is they don`t know enough about the virus to say they know what they`re testing for. What they know today is completely different than what they thought they knew a month ago. The reason the NHL and the players want to finish the season is so they don`t have to return the tv revenue which has been already paid to the NHL. The revenue that`s been generated from tv if they finish the season and playoffs won`t affect next years cap . If they don`t finish all the games they have to give back money which would affect this years cap, hence the urgency to finish unlike the lockout year

    • actually south florida is a perfect venue. it has a very miniscule fan base, and if you have ever attended a game there, the upper level most nights so far has been a model practice in social distancing.