NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2020

by | Apr 26, 2020 | News, NHL | 26 comments

More details on the plan to resume the schedule, plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL and NHL Players Association have established a Return to Play Committee engaged in discussions to draft plans to reopen the season when it’s safe to do so. The league has to determine whether it can safely resume amid a pandemic and whether the players will agree to it.

“Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and senior VPs Colin Campbell and Steve Hatze Petros represent the NHL, while the NHLPA is represented by Don Fehr, Mathieu Schneider, general counsel Don Zavelo, divisional rep Steve Webb, and active players John Tavares, Connor McDavid, James van Riemsdyk, and Ron Hainsey. Medical advisers from both the league and union are added to the calls when appropriate.”

Decisions to resume will ultimately be made by local governments and public health agencies. League deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked to clarify comments to TSN on Friday in which he suggested one or more positive COVID-19 tests among the participants wouldn’t necessarily shut the whole thing down. Daly said he wouldn’t get into hypotheticals. “I’m fully comfortable with our level of knowledge and the experts we have retained to make the right decisions,” he said. 

Brooks indicates Toronto and Columbus are among the leading candidates to be part of the four regional division hosts. A Canadian host city would mean lower costs to stage part of the schedule because of the lower Canadian dollar.

All teams would hold training camps of up to three weeks at their assigned locations. Depending on how far a team advances in the playoffs, those players could face being isolated from their families for up to four months. 

Player health will be an issue, especially for those with medical conditions like Montreal’s Max Domi, the New York Rangers’ Kaapo Kaako, and Minnesota’s Luke Kunin, who are Type 1 diabetics and more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. Testing, travel restrictions, and family matters will be other issues facing the committee.

Boston Bruins president Cam Neely

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report provides an interesting glimpse into the myriad of challenges facing the league and the PA in their attempt to complete the season and crown a Stanley Cup champion. Both sides appear busy behind the scenes trying to address those issues. It appears they want the players to return to their clubs by May 15, open training camps in those four host cities by June 1, and resume play by late-June.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely said the league and the players are on board to do whatever possible to complete the season. “If that means playing into the summer then we’re all willing to do that. The feeling is there’s an opportunity to be able to push next season back and still get an 82-game schedule in next year. Everything is on the table to try and get the (2019-20) season completed.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every option is being considered, but the preference certainly seems to be a full completion of the current schedule and staging a full playoff format.

That could mean awarding the Stanley Cup by early September, holding a brief offseason period from mid-September into mid-October to stage the draft, open the free-agent period, and allow for salary-arbitration hearings. That could be followed by a two-three week training camp, with the 2020-21 season starting up in mid-November and the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs ending in late June or early July.

THE SCORE: Should the NHL schedule resume in empty arenas, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper feels the players will quickly adjust to the absence of fans. He believes the players won’t notice a thing once the competitive juices and physical play begins.

SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby sent a message of love and support to his fellow Nova Scotians as the province grieves the senseless deaths of 22 people during a shooting rampage by a lone gunman last weekend. “I’m in Pittsburgh, but being from Nova Scotia, my heart and mind is home with all of you,” said the Cole Harbour native. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like everyone, I was shocked and horrified by what happened last weekend. I was raised in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Many of my family still live there. I regularly drive through the area where many of those murders took place on route to visit my folks. My heart goes out to the victims’ families and friends.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has resumed skating as he rehabs from his March 2 core muscle surgery. He’s expected to be fully recovered when the season resumes.


  1. The NHL should work their tails off to get a product back on the ice
    1 Capitalize on pent-up sports enthusiasm
    2 Present on-ice banter and chirping – swears and all – so viewers can have an immersive experience
    3 Pipe in NHL20 crowd noise, if you have to, to instill excitement

    Take this opportunity!!
    People are going to give Hockey a chance – and realize it’s an incredible game.
    Build a new Fan Base!!

    • Very well said. It is a prime opportunity for sports fans from USA to realize how fantastic and great Hockey truly is!

  2. I do not understand why the league would even consider Toronto as one of the sites for games. Do they never look at the numbers? There must be seven or eight cities that make more sense.

    • Regional bias? Toronto is first, a great city. As for hockey, they hosted the World Cup of hockey that went off perfectly. There are 4 or 8 full size ice pads within blocks of the SBA (ACC) where the Leafs play and about 100 hotels that they can pick to sequester the players.

      Toronto is a no brainer if it’s deemed safe.

      PS if the playoffs do happen, it will be a rare time we will have full rosters. I just hope teams will be allowed to carry reserves in case of injuries since there is no call ups from the AHL since there is no AHL happening.

      • “Toronto…… if it is deemed safe.”
        How about Winnipeg or Edmonton or Vancouver or Calgary” if they are deemed safe”?
        Much better bets for availability this summer.

      • Edmonton and Calgary could be off the table because Alberta’s health minister recommends banning all major public events involving more than 50 people until the end of the summer. Winnipeg is reportedly out because it lacks suitable accommodation. Vancouver would depend upon BC’s health minister giving the go-ahead.

      • I believe by “the numbers” he was referring to the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases – and deaths therefrom – in the GTA. If you think Ford is going to loosen the controls for hockey – which will require close social contacts not just among the players but officials, support staff, TV personnel – while still holding firm on ordinary businesses, you’re dreaming.

        That – aside from the obvious health risks until we have a vaccine – would be political suicide.

      • Calgary/Edmonton make a lot of sense due to proximity of the cities, facilities, CDN $, and politics that are likely more receptive to the risks.

      • Calgary and Edmonton could be out of the running because Alberta’s health minister has banned large public events until the end of the summer.

    • I thought same thing. You’d think smaller cities would be better.

      • Lyle, your comments seem to imply that completing the season is unlikely.
        Do you see the playoffs taking place?

      • I’m not implying that at all. I do believe they face a challenge to return to action during a pandemic, but it’s not impossible. Sorting out the logistical issues will be crucial to pulling it off.

  3. Their mind set seems “full speed ahead” with the idea of finishing this season and having full playoffs plus full schedule next season. That will take a whole lot of games in a short amount of time.
    My guess is that they may be thinking of making rosters of 30 players or so, that way they can play lots of back to back games and each game sit out 5-10 players and bring in 5-10 fresh ones.
    I would also guess that next season cross county schedule is out as long travel just costs time and money so west conferences would just play west conference teams and east would just play east.
    If they have more players on roster then that would put the AHL sites in moth balls for a year as half of your AHL teams would be with the big club. They may also be thinking that Junior Leagues and colleges may not play next year so your most important prospects will be part of the expanded roster. That would kill off the career minor league players.

    All just a guess but can’t see a roster of 20 playing
    last 15% of this season, playoffs, next season and playoffs in a 14-16 month time frame.
    Also don’t see a path for AHL, Juniors & college to be starting this October.

  4. I still don’t understand at all the desire to complete all 82 games for EVERY team

    Wings ARE already eliminated ; and Sharks, Kings, Sens are very very close to that mathematically eliminated point

    You can imagine how enthusiastic the wings players are to be completely isolated from family for training camp and to play 11 more games in an empty arena …. thats 6-7 weeks. Add a bit more time for the European players…. and don’t forget that Wings playing in those completely useless games are opening themselves up to injury (how many teams this year have gone 11 straight games w/o a single injury)?????

    Ericcson and Howard are both already 36 ; and UFAs…. are they coming back??? If they are ; are they enthusiastically willing to risk injury coming up to UFA season???

    I still say best route is to play 74/75 games (bal of sched intra-Div); with immediately Eliminating the teams that mathematically can’t get in at 74/75 games …. Cal teams; Det; Ottw; NJ ; Buff ; Mont

    For the 23 trams not mathematically eliminated at 74/75….

    That’s a max of 7 games ( Canes & Isle’s) …. and with starting training camp at a safer 1/6 …. reg Season (74/75 games for those 23 teams ) can be done by Mid July …. draft held right after season ends

    Reg/usual 16 team playoffs with all best of 7’s take about 9 weeks … if sched is done two rounds Best of 5; Semis/SC best if 7 with a slight tightening of sched… playoffs could be done in second week of Sep… start 20/21 Season 1/11 … no Bye week ; no all-star break …. ‘21 Cup awarded mid June 👍👍

    secluded/social distanced/confused Pengy

    • There is no way that teams like the Sens, Wings will or should be held back from participating from any type of remaining schedule.

      So now teams that would have faced the wings will face a much better playoff team? I don’t think so.

      There are only 2 realistic/ fair options at this point . Play out th full season, or scrap it completely. And other option leaves a stain / black eye to the integrity of the game.

      • Hi NY4Life

        Cede the black stain comment …. no matter what this season will have many asterisks beside it… it is what it is ☹️

        I’m dying for hockey just like everybody else but I can’t see the need for full season (82) for all 31 teams…. I just can’t …. it’s just my opinion

        Re “ Sens, Wings will or should be held back from participating from any type of remaining schedule.”. …. “will” is a decision to be made … who knows; but I can’t side with “should be held back” for the Wings

        I could see their (Wings) arguments for perceiving as more “forced” to playout the season (if it happens)…. no real incentives; heavy on discomfort/risks for Wings

        Wings are already eliminated; 11 games are useless to them (cede valuable to opponents) ; come with seclusion from family just like all other teams ; with risk of injury…. and I don’t see a high likelihood of Detroit being chosen as one of the 4 hub sites

        I’m against the 68 game roll-back …. that to me is much less fair

        I have concerns with full 82 for all :

        —-see Detroit above ; and for similar reasons; unless they run the table and get massive help , Ottawa (and a few others like Sharks, Kings Jersey to name 3) will be playing for for basically no chance at cup and risking injuries

        —— 82 games for all … bottom teams now also risk getting worse lottery odds

        —82 for all and draft MUST be after reg season (should be anyway) and if before playoffs ; trades will just be picks

        I truly acknowledge your concerns re fairness of a skewed final set of games if only 74/75 and the 8 mathematically eliminated teams don’t play (disadvantage to the teams still playing who had their current final 10-12 games heavily skewed playing against these weaker teams) … again no matter what happens ; this season will have a bunch of asterisks beside it ☹️

        To me ; I truly believe the way to go is the 74/75 game sched for these 23 teams ; but if I would choose my preferences if that option (74/5 for the 23) is not taken; preferences in order would be:

        1) percentage points right now ; bottom 7 out; resume playoffs when viable ….. 5 rounds …. :

        1st round — top two in each Div bye…. next 8 in EACH conf (1st v 8th etc)… best of 5 …. those winners …. 4 in EACH conference (advancers) move on

        2nd round in each conf … Div winners play bottom advancers etc ….best of 7

        Re-seed; best of seven ; followed by semis best if 7; and SC best of 7

        2) percentage points at 68 rollback…. playoffs as in 1

        those two ; to me; before even considering 82 for all or scrapping the season

        Just my take anyway

      • I don’t think there will be asterisks involved if they play out the full season / playoffs. There really wouldn’t be much to question. A roll back is out. No way do I see the league taking that approach.
        74-75 games will be forever questioned. It’s not the same thing as a predetermined shortened season. Besides , is 7 more games really going to comprise anything?

        I agree that a team like Detroit has no incentive to play. However… what happens to the teams that were supposed to face them? They go from an easy 2 points to facing a harder and better team?

    • It’s $$$$$
      They don’t have the money to pay ALL the bills owed. They have not payed players final installment on their contract. There are a whole host of management and arena bills to be paid.
      Not to mention soon fans will be asking for REFUNDS for tickets paid for but games not played or games played in an empty stadium 1000’s miles of away. Also, fairly sure no TV income at this point as we can’t pay you because we can’t TV games that aren’t being played, etc, etc

      • @Boom if they don`t complete the season and playoffs they have to return the money that`s why they want to complete everything. The players turned down the final paycheck to lessen the amount that they`ll have to pay in escrow. The refund for the fans will probably be deducted off of next years total for their season ticket package. The rest will probably be offered an exchange of tickets for next year. If it was the other way around the players would`ve voted to scrap the rest of the year, just like the lockout year

  5. Schedule should be reworked to get all teams to same amount of games played and then go right to playoffs.
    Have all playoffs take place at Lake Placid! Well equipped to handle all teams and families.

    • I doubt any place in New York will be picked to resume play.
      Lake placid is more like Canada than NY, but given the severity of Covid-19 in NYC and surrounding areas… I doubt NY state will be opening the doors to any events in the near future.

      • I’m assuming you’re only opening it to the nhl. Looking at it as a neutral site, it makes a lot of sense with its facilities. And yeah, it’s not exactly NY city . I’m 5 miles outside city and Virginia is closer than Lake Placid

    • @Slick62 does Lake Placid have minimum 10 full sheets of ice. 15 probably wouldn`t be enough to stage everything in one location. You`re looking at games and practices too, not to mention the time of the year and ice conditions. I doubt whether Toronto or Montreal could pull that off.

      • Neutral site locations are reportedly off the table. While Lake Placid might have the ice sheets you speak of, they lack suitable accommodation and transportations facilities and staff that are readily available in NHL cities.

  6. Curious what the network contracts say about payment for an incomplete season. The league may have a contractual obligation to play a full season.

    Also trying to imagine playoff without street party like whiteout and no Stanley Cup parade.

    • 2.0 – that’s the question, what does the TV contract’s say. The TV contracts are both National as is NBC in USA and local as in Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket which carry Kings & Ducks games.
      What makes matters worse at least for the locals is that they also carry Baseball ( majors and college) and Basketball ( NBA and College) and horse racing (Dark) and soon College Football. They gain their income by commercials and right now they have nothing to sell, kinda hard to get money from Mobil oil or department stores or banks or eating places etc who are shut down and all you have to offer is repays from games you have already replayed once. If this goes on for very long you will soon hear the phrase ” I know what the contact says but I don’t have any money to pay you, so sue me”