NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2020
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.
HOW WILL THE AHL’S SEASON CANCELATION AFFECT THE NHL?
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.
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.
LATEST ON THE NHL’S ATTEMPTS TO RESUME ITS 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.
Blue-Skying some potential tweaks to the game with a medical expert to allow play during a pandemic. See below for a few ideas and a quote from Bill Daly on the NHL’s willingness to entertain potential changes. pic.twitter.com/Stdrl8gvZV
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) May 11, 2020
IN OTHER NEWS…
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.