NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2020

by | May 12, 2020 | News, NHL | 16 comments

The impact of the AHL’s season cancelation upon the NHL, the ongoing search for a solution to resume the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


SPORTSNET: The American Hockey League (AHL) yesterday announced the cancelation of its 2019-20 season. The league is the primary feeder system for the National Hockey League.  AHL president David Andrews said the league couldn’t afford to complete the season without fans in the arenas. This will mark the first time since 1937 that the Calder Cup won’t be awarded to the AHL champion.

The American Hockey League canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 season.

Chris Johnston reported Andrews indicated there’s uncertainty over the league’s 2020-21 season. “The American Hockey League as it presently operates can not play in front of empty buildings for any sustained period of time,” he said. 

Andrews said the AHL will play next season, pointing out its value as a development league for the NHL. Johnston reports the prevailing opinion among NHL executives is that the AHL won’t return with all of its teams to start next season, which could result in some shared NHL affiliation agreements until things get back to normal.

Johnston pointed out that some AHL players could join their NHL affiliates. “The NHL is still actively engaged in trying to finish its season and teams believe they’ll return with expanded rosters of 30 players or more if it manages to restart. Those taxi squads will be essential to finishing out an expanded 24-team Stanley Cup playoff format that’s currently believed to be the favored option of the league.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin reports the AHL’s closure isn’t a harbinger of what could be in store for the NHL. “The NHL has far more resources at its disposal than the AHL and, under return-to-play scenarios, can ease back into competition by broadcasting the games on national TV. Given the ratings we’ve already seen for events such as the NFL draft, there’s an excellent chance the NHL’s empty-arena games would draw huge national audiences in Canada and the U.S. upon returning.”

Larkin also reported NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated there won’t be any need to make an exception to the rules to allow NHL teams to expand their rosters. That’s because it’s already permitted following the annual trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The AHL’s 2020-21 season will depend upon how long health restrictions remain in place in its respective markets. Because it is more reliant on gate revenue than the NHL, it could face significant challenges if the pandemic stretches into next season.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun interviewed Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk regarding his role on the NHL’s Return to Play Committee. “There’s a good mix of guys on each side, so no stone will be left unturned as we try to navigate the safest, best way to hopefully get things going again,” said van Riemsdyk. He indicated ensuring the health and safety for all concerned remains their primary focus.

JVR acknowledged whatever format the league chooses for its return probably won’t please everyone. He pointed out the difficulty of trying to find the right scenario given how quickly things can change throughout the pandemic.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith reports the NHL isn’t permitting teams to sign contracts with players for the current season. “After the NHL suspended its season amid the coronavirus pandemic in March, the league told teams that no contracts for draft picks or college, junior, or European free agents could be signed with a start date of the current season.” According to Gold-Smith, any contracts signed will be dated July 1 and take effect in 2020-21.



LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings’ assistant general manager Michael Futa will be leaving the organization following the imminent completion of his contract. He played a key role in building the Kings’ championship rosters in 2012 and 2014.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Futa is frequently mentioned as a candidate whenever a team is in the market for a general manager. Perhaps this decision means he’s finally about to take the plunge. The New Jersey Devils are believed in the market for a new GM.

JATKOAIKA 65: reports Florida Panthers center Henrik Borgstrom is reportedly talking contract with KHL club Jokerit. Borgstrom is a restricted free agent at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Borgstrom was once considered a promising part of the Panthers’ future. The 22-year-old center debuted in 50 games last season but saw action in just four games in his sophomore campaign. Perhaps Borgstrom’s rumored talks with Jokerit are being conducted with the Panthers’ blessing. They’ll still hold his NHL rights beyond next season. Spending a year back home in Finland might help get his career back on track.

TSN: To celebrate their 25th anniversary next season, the Colorado Avalanche are considering playing a handful of games in the old Quebec Nordiques jersey. The Nordiques were relocated to Denver and renamed the Avalanche following the 1994-95 season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy unveils his final rankings for the top 120 prospects in this year’s draft.


  1. Re Larkin above;

    “ Given the ratings we’ve already seen for events such as the NFL draft, there’s an excellent chance the NHL’s empty-arena games would draw huge national audiences in Canada and the U.S. upon returning.”

    He has put the word “chance” but with the word excellent in-front of it ; I become skeptical

    If NHL does resume and the fan base remains the same; the increase in viewership would then logically be those who would have been at the arenas had covid not happened

    The return; if it happens; I’m confident , will have interest; but if they do go with host hubs with more than one game on during the day (afternoons) I am not confident in describing viewership as “Huge national audiences”

    I hope I’m wrong in that opinion; because I want to see success; I’m just skeptical

    The other thing I’d like to point out is the consistent media statement that the NHL expects a boon of interest in the draft because of the big viewership the NFL; but:

    Two different sports with different audiences;

    NFL feeder (college FB) has a massive following; and famiarity with future NFLers;

    NFL previous season already completed and champion awarded; unlike NHL that has conditional picks and having a draft pre season cancelation/finish basically nullifies any player for picks trades (which to me is exciting; and a reason I watch the NHL draft)

    So to think that the NHL draft (if held pre cancelation or cup) would render a propionate (to NFL) viewership spike; to me, is unfounded

  2. Pengy, the longer we remain cooped up (and it will continue to a large extent until we have a vaccine) and mainstream TV continues to toss repeats of the same shows/films at us – in many instances on the same day, anyone who is a sports fan will grasp at any original straw tossed their way.

    And that includes the draft. Anyone who tries to claim they won’t tune in to see who their team (s) of choice have drafted in the 1st round (assuming they have a pick) is lying through their teeth. Same with any format adopted for a playoff. Even those whose teams are not participating will watch even if it’s only to see a team they detest fall on their ass. It’s basic human nature and the fact they’re stuck inside (especially on rainy, miserable days – of which we’ve seen plenty so far this “spring’) makes the games a much better option than 10 episodes of Storage Wars or Top Gear or Ice Road Truckers or As The Stomach Turns or whatever.

    • I agree George I think the best move is get ready for the next season, but if games happen I will watch them

    • Hi George

      I agree; uptick in interest; for sure

      What I just can’t fathom unfortunately is “Huge” (that’s one of the two words that threw me) national audience; and “excellent” (the other word that threw me) chance

      To me, realistically I would have stated something like “good chance at a spike in viewership”

      Or even “pretty fair chance at a noticeable increase in viewership”

      “Excellent” (chance) is to me “outlandishly optimistic”

      … and “huge” (national audience) however subjective in nature “huge” actually is (cite a certain leader) ; to me it is overstated

      I 🤞 and 🙏 for the best


    • Hey George, not sure if you were just throwing out names of TV shows you don’t watch, but if those are your options you need to upgrade your TV.
      Netflix – Ozark, Narcos etc. and HBO have some series worth watching.

      • LOL. Yeah, Ray, I do watch Netflix, Prime, even oldies on YouTube before I tune in to mainstream TV – and even then it’s mainly for the Weather Channel (or as we like to call it in the Ottawa Valley – the Comedy Network).

        It’s only a matter of time before I tell Rogers to stuff their “packages” where the sun don’t shine. Three years of them avoiding the CRTC edict that customers are to be allowed to pick and choose what channels they actually want. Those that don’t get enough subscribers should wither and die on the vine.

      • I think George is more of a nick at night kinda guy.

      • Ya, limited choice when it comes to carriers here in AB as well. Shaw and Telus get most of the biz, and hard to distinguish between the 2. Or you can go the Bell dish route.
        I was late to Netflix as I didn’t watch much TV other than news and sports, and mostly read the news. No sports and the news is one big repeat loop these days.
        Happy I did as I have plenty to watch that is new. Marty flippin Byrde.

      • Amazon Prime has Jack Ryan, Bosch The Expanse and Hunters while Disney+ has The Mandalorian (if you liked Star Wars).

  3. There is a reason TV networks play reruns all summer because people don’t stay inside during the warm months to watch TV.

    To compare the NFL draft that has already happen and was a one day advent to the NHL and a long series of advents doesn’t hold water.

    Yes there fanatics that will watch and yes I will watch but only when Boston is playing, as were I would watch every game every night, back and forth channel switching.

    Manitoba winters are to long and summers to short; no way I’m giving up my summer to watch any sport. Except bruins game but not if I have something plan, I may just wait until elimination games.

    • Read an article this morning that dish and cable subscribers in USA are starting to cancel as people need to cut expenses. I get it, I pay $ 250 month for TV & Internet. Until I was Furloughed by Gobber Newsome ( California) I stopped watching TV, the only thing worth watching was hockey and baseball and they are gone. See where LA may extend stay at home for three more months. How I long for Curling night in Canada with Don Cherry making comments between the first and second curl.

      • George, you need to smile more often – don’t we all.
        Try “The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel” on Netflix.

  4. I hope as most of us do that they find a way to play some games, because we will watch them. I don’t think having them in hub cities will matter, as we are starved for hockey.(sports in general)
    But, with that said, and the AHL cancelling its season, my feeling is, if the NHL does have the draft in June, that will most likely mean, a cancellation of the remainder of the season is the probable outcome.
    Just my feeling.

  5. Just cancel it all, wait for next season when it’s safe and not dumb. The league and us survived lockouts more than once and not having a Stanley Cup champion is no big deal either it’s happened before and life went on.

    If you look at all the time they’ve had off since they stopped playing it’s almost a full off season anyway so why bother doing something half assed?

    • Because the NHL and NHLPA want to recoup as much of the lost revenue resulting from the pandemic shutdown if its’ at all possible to do so.

    • I wouldn’t assume next season will be any safer than it is now Ron. IMO the opposite is just as likely.
      Barring a miracle, there isn’t going be a vaccine by Oct, Nov, or Dec.
      The more we open it up, the more cases there will be, so likely more than we have today. Hopefully the testing and tracing capacity is there to contain the flare ups. Or even better an effective treatment for those who get really sick so we can save most of the lives.
      That seems like best case scenario right now. So either they play with no fans, knowing the risks, or they won’t be playing next year either.