NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2020
LATEST ON THE POSSIBLE RESUMPTION OF 2019-20 NHL SEASON
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the NHL is looking at a series of phases toward re-starting the 2019-20 season. It’s currently been in Phase 1 (lockdown, quarantine, self-isolation) since mid-March. The league is optimistic about moving into Phase 2, which would see players from around the world returning to their NHL clubs and getting into a two-week quarantine period of small-group training.
Darren Dreger suggests the Phase 2 period would ideally be around May 15. He said the league and the NHL Players’ Association are discussing restart strategies, but some teams aren’t optimistic about whether it’s safe enough to return anytime soon.
Pierre LeBrun reports the league is vetting 12 NHL cities for those four divisional hosts. He cites colleague Frank Seravalli indicating Toronto, Edmonton, Dallas, and Pittsburgh were under consideration. LeBrun also mentioned Minnesota (Minneapolis-St. Paul), and Columbus.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports at least one NHL team told its players to be prepared to report on May 15 to begin informal workouts before a training camp of up to three weeks. Not every NHL club, however, is acting in a similar matter. He added Columbus is the favorite to host Metropolitan Division games.
Brooks also said there has yet to be in-depth conversations between the league and the NHLPA regarding health protocols to protect the players from COVID-19. It’s unknown if players returning from Europe would need to be quarantined for two weeks before rejoining their clubs.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen reports Winnipeg has been removed from that list of potential locations, citing various infrastructure issues such as suitable hotel accommodation to house all those players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A growing sense of cautious optimism has been evident this week among NHL officials over a possible resumption of the season. However, they’ve also repeatedly stressed it would depend upon ensuring the health and safety of its players and those involved in staging those games. They’re hopeful, but they’re also not going to rush things. Like provinces and states that are starting to ease back restrictions, the league will do this step by cautious step.
2020 NHL DRAFT UPDATE
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the NHL head office is keen to stage the 2020 NHL Draft in early June, well before the proposed resumption of the schedule. Pierre LeBrun said there’s been considerable pushback from NHL general managers. They’re concerned about determining the draft order, as well as the ability to make normal trades.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Ottawa Sun that a June draft would likely use a points percentage system to determine the draft selection order. Based on the reports from McKenzie and LeBrun, however, most of the general managers are against the notion of staging the draft before the start of the season. Several teams also made deals during this season involving conditional picks to be determined by playoff performance or a player re-signing with his new club. Sorting that out could create more headaches for the league.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SCORE: The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed Elvis Merzlikins to a two-year, $8-million contract extension. The 26-year-old goaltender was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins’ new deal came within a week of the Jackets re-signing Joonas Korpisalo to a two-year, $5.6-million deal. They now have over $75 million invested in 19 players for 2020-21, with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson still to re-sign.
Some are wondering why general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is re-signing players when next season’s salary cap has yet to be determined. Same goes for St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong. It’s been suggested their recent moves indicate the salary cap will remain at $81.5 million for next season.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Alex Ovechkin and Wayne Gretzky played to a tie in their NHL 20 matchup, raising over $41K for coronavirus relief.
STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Former NHL player and 1980 Team USA alum Mark Pavelich is no longer resisting mental health treatment. He’s making progress toward a newly scheduled hearing to determine his fitness to stand trial for assaulting a neighbor last year.