NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2020

by | May 15, 2020 | News, NHL | 34 comments

The latest on the NHL’s efforts to resume its season, Mitch Marner, Max Domi, and Matt Dumba weigh in with their thoughts, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL-NHLPA Return to Play Committee could meet for the third time this week to discuss concepts over what resuming the season would look like. A 24-team play-in involving the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks isn’t sitting well with some players and team executives. Under that scenario, the Canadiens would face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit 15 points above the Habs in the Eastern Conference standings.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports he’s also heard some pushback against the 24-team playoff scenario. There are also questions over the format (Best-of-three? Best of five?) for the opening round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Going the 24-team format allows two of the NHL’s biggest markets (Montreal and Chicago) into the playoffs, which would draw potentially higher television ratings. In his column for The Athletic, LeBrun said the Canadiens and Blackhawks would participate in that format if asked, but they’re not pushing for it.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets whittled down to a regular 16-team postseason based on points percentage or a 20-team format where there’s a short-term play-in period for the bubble teams. 

Darren Dreger reports some players expressed concerns about escrow payments going forward. A source told Dreger there’s no indication the return-to-play plans will be tied to the CBA economic issues.

If the border closure between Canada and the United States is extended to June 21, Bob McKenzie wondered how that would affect the return-to-play plans. He said the NHL is in contact with the governments of both countries and it might not be an impediment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis that he’s sensing some momentum toward a preliminary plan for resuming the season could be in place by next week. However, he also said that will depend upon the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also believes discussions are going on between the league and the Canadian and American governments. 

LeBrun said he’s been told there are eight or nine teams in the running to become one of the four host cities under the return-to-play plan. Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Minnesota, and Vegas are among those believed in the running.

McKenzie said the prospect of staging the 2020 NHL Draft in June could be fading. The league still thinks it’s a great idea but widespread support isn’t there. “I think the NHL is starting to get the idea that the time, the effort and the political capital that would be required to convince enough teams that it is a good idea, might not be worth it,” said McKenzie.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also said there’s been considerable pushback against staging the draft before the resumption of the season. He indicated half the teams are believed against it, while there weren’t many teams willing to fight for a June draft. 

A decision is reportedly expected sometime next week. NHL headquarters could ignore this and decide to hold it in June, but there’s obviously a growing sense that might not happen. 


THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner believes safety must be the priority for the NHL’s return to play. “My thought on this is, OK, I’m all down for starting everything back up, let’s rock,” he said. “But what if someone gets sick and dies? What happens? It’s awful to think about, but still.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS:  Ken Campbell believes Marner’s concern is legitimate, one that many NHL players are likely grappling with as the league and the PA discuss resuming the season. Campbell interviewed Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, regarding Marner’s concern. Bogoch believes everyone involved must be fully aware of the risks but noted the risk for the players is relatively low because of their youth and conditioning.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi could be at a higher risk than most players. “Being a Type 1 diabetic, it’s something that raises some concern. But you really don’t know how everyone’s going to be affected by this disease. Being a Type 1 doesn’t change much. I would handle myself the same way as if I didn’t have it,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay Marner’s concerns are shared by other players. As long as the league can ensure the health and safety of the players, they’ll approve returning to play this summer.

Speaking of that vote, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported it’s his understanding the 31 player reps will vote on an official return-to-play format.  “The player reps are in constant communication with their teammates so their vote should be reflective of what the players on their respective team want.”

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba hopes for a chance to resume his season. He felt his game was improving in the weeks before the schedule was paused. Dumba believes he spent too much time last summer rehabbing a surgically repaired pectoral muscle and not enough on other areas of his game.

EISHOCKEY NEWS: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer opted to remain in Denver rather than return to his native Germany to ride out the league’s mandatory self-quarantine period. Unlike other parts of the United States, Grubauer felt the local and state officials in Colorado were doing a good job addressing the pandemic. He’s spent a good deal of time maintaining his conditioning by cycling. 

Grubauer said the league wants the players to be prepared for a possible resumption of play. The longer it takes, the less likely a return will happen, but Grubauer feels optimistic over a possible return. As to what the schedule might look like, he speculated it could be compressed to playing two games in a row, followed by a day off and then two more games.


TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Dominik Simon underwent surgery on his left shoulder April 29 to repair a torn labrum. He is expected to be sidelined six to seven months.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller said he underwent a second surgery on his troublesome knee a couple of months ago. He had surgery last year to repair a fractured kneecap and missed this season as he faced setbacks in his recovery. 


  1. If they really want playoff excitement, allow all teams that haven’t been mathematically eliminated for a one-and-done! Red Wings automatically draft 1st.

  2. Wonder if there’s a drop dead date? I think it’s time to fish or cut bait for something. (draft? playoffs)? No sense in bringing teams back that had little chance of making it. If they go to a 16 team playoff, teams that were just outside wild card I feel sorry for in a way.

    • Lyle you didn’t mention what Friedman said about some of the pushback toward letting the habs in, a rested Carey price. This is why no matter who wins the cup it will be with a BIG asterisk!

      • Big bear if Montreal who is 10pts out of a playoff spot with 11 games to go is allowed into the playoffs it makes the playoffs a tournament and not a playoffs.

        Montreal sits 6th in the wild card spot.

        Agree they are not mathematically eliminated but they are eliminated.

        If you allow Montreal then you have to allow every team that isn’t mathematically eliminated and quite frankly, then it’s not a playoff for the Stanley Cup, its an award for Covid-19.

      • Totally agree! More and more players even ones on a top 16 team aren’t sounding too enthusiastic about returning to play. I know Bettman is worried about money but might be time to just call it a year and move on to the next

  3. Right now your expected to quarantine for 14 days.

    Bringing players accross, 4 hub cities, then travel to another hub as playoffs progress, borders are closed, how do you cross the border?

    Here my solution for the playoffs put everything in the state of New York.

    All one Country all one state, have the arenas, the hotels

    2 issues New York has a high rate of Covid-19 and what is the NBA doing.

    That’s my simple solution that isn’t so simple.

    • Vegas as the hub makes a lot of sense.

  4. Why not just let the NHL figure it out and than form your opinions as to weather you like it or not. All this speculation to what’s going to happen is just that speculation.

    • In the case of what if any playoff format there will be, I agree Obe.

      But if speculation about what might happen in hockey related issues were removed this site would disappear.

      I get tired of some of the endless and wild speculation about whether Player XX will get traded, or whether Player YY can afford to be signed by a team. But like driving past an accident, I can’t help but look.

      Especially now, when we are reduced to watching reruns of past hockey games. But at least I saw the Habs win the Cup on one of them!

  5. Re playoff numbers (IF playoffs happen):

    I do understand the concern/push back @ 24 with Mon & Chi inclusion

    Again, this of course assumes that season is not canceled (which is still a possibility)

    However those concerns (@24) are minuscule IMHO compared to 10 teams affected (5 positive , 5 negative) @ 16 …. where 1 more game for each of the 10 could have flipped whether they are in or out

    At 16 …. Van ; Min ; NYI; NYR; FLA ousted…. and if it goes by points percentage and they had played just one (1) more game and won in reg …. they’d be in:

    Minn still had 2 games against Nsh …. 1 point separates them…. if one game played btwn; Min wins; Minn in ; Nsh out

    Cgy Van still had a game remaining against each other; their status could flip

    Tor/FLA same (with a Panther win in reg… Panthers points % becomes greater than Leafs)

    Isles and Rangers still had a game against Clb

    Isles still had a game against Car

    So, IMHO…. 24 game playoff way better than 16

    Some could argue that Perhaps the best of all scenarios is 20

    However still issues @ 20…. with 10 per conference and Pts percentage; in the East Rangers out @ 0.564; Panthers in @ 0.565

    and Note :
    Minn in @ 0.557
    Jets in @ 0.563
    Nsh in @ 0.565
    Van in @ 0.565

    So @ 16… 10 teams ; one extra game COULD flip them from out to in or visa versa

    @ 20 Rangers screwed

    @ 24 … see today’s posts re unfairness/unwarranted (perhaps) re Chi and Mon in

    No easy solution …. but to me of the three …. @ 16 is the worst

    • Pengy i don’t understand how you don’t understand that 24 teams is wrong.

      What does it say about the 2019-2020 season if the final is between Chi vs Mtl. Joke

      Furthermore why would Mtl get in over Buffalo

      MTL 71 games played 71pts row 27
      Buff 69 games played 68pts row 28

      Summary Buffalo 3pts behind 2 games in hand already have more ROW

      I don’t understand why anyone would think having 24 teams in the playoffs is a good idea. Might as well have 31 in the playoffs.

      Its a clean slate regardless.

      Cancel the season already; but, as Bettman said got lots of runway right up to and including November.

      • CANCEL!

      • Hi Caper

        Sorry if my post inferred my favouring 24 as the right choice and or not thinking it was wrong

        I never espoused that 24 teams in was good.

        It’s definitely not good

        IF (big IF) there is a 19/20 playoffs; my contention is that with only two choices, if that were the case (24 or 16); then to me using 24 is far more fair than 16. Using 16… 10 teams are one single game from flipping between in or out.

        Neither good

        24 not good , but better than 16
        “ Lesser of two evils”??

        Re Buffalo vs Mon being in; I only mentioned Mon & Chi because the article above did

        If they did 24 in using 12 per conference and winning % as ranking criteria…. Mon @ 0.500 would edge out Buff at 0.493

        Ousted at 24 with 12 per Conf decided by winning percentage is the 3 Cal teams; Det , NJ , Ottw , Buff

        No single decision will appease all

        To be honest; to me, actually getting any 19/20 playoffs in is not certain and getting them all in (start, no bumps, no player testing positive, and completed in reasonable time) successfully/satisfactorily is less than 50 %

        From what I’m culling from the media, it’s a strong push by the NHL to award the 19/20 Cup; and most recent scuttlebutt was 16 or 24 using winning percentages for ranking; 12 per conf.

        Only with that assumption …. Cup a go and either 16 or 24… I strongly favour 24… that’s it. Not good; just my choice if those were the only two choices

        Again , sorry if my previous post was interpreted as me inferring that 24 was good…. not the case

        Much better than 16 IMHO; but not good

    • Furthermore Pengy 16 is the only answer.

      • Friedman made it clear how the habs would be in over Buffalo, if you even out the games take 2 away from Montreal they have 71 in 69 ahead of buffalo and because the regular season isnt going to be finished the habs still had a better point % than buffalo

      • Bigbear i could give a F#@K what Freidman said, he doesn’t speak for me.

        Finish the regular season or cancel.

      • I really don’t understand why fans are worried about 16 or 24? The regular season isn’t happening and as pengy said 24 is the better of the 2. As soon as the regular season was delayed/cancelled I said this season is going to have an asterisk regardless of who wins! 24 teams would be fun to watch

    • Every plan has it’s good and bad. Just the way it is.
      There needs to be a reality check on who actually had a shot of qualifying, sure. Also not mentioned that if you have a play to get in model, more fair for those in the hunt, then you have to let the top teams play meaningful games too or they would be at a disadvantage when they get up against a team that has it’s legs, timing, & structure from playing to get in, so let them play for the top 4 seeding.
      24 or 20 is fine IMO. Pick a number and go with it. If you want to say there is an asterisk, fine, I disagree, but really, who cares if some feel that way.
      If they decide to move forward, what they come up with won’t be perfect, it can’t be, and somebody will be upset. Who cares about that either.
      I would bet anyone $20 and give 100 to 1 odds that CHI will not play MTL in the final.

      The big question is to have playoffs or cancel. A key decision maker in this is the players, and vary few have given their opinion on whether or not they are comfortable doing this at all? Some vague concerns mentioned by a few, but not many. Will there be a full vote for the NHLPA? Simple majority?
      We haven’t heard much from the most important party in all this who has the most at stake.

      • Fairly well stated.

      • Ray bark if you follow Twitter their has been a LOT of players that have for and against, top 16 or not. There is no advantage for the bottom or top teams, the players have just sat on their butts for 2 months it will be some ugly hockey the whole way through IF there is hockey! Top seeds sit for 2 weeks without a playoff game in the nfl hence getting a bye and they do all right?

      • I was referring to whether the players want to play at all during COVID as they assume most of the risk of infection and also have the incentive of revenue.
        The format I am sure there will be disagreements as it can’t be perfect.
        As for the NFL, a 2 week layoff is different than 3 months. Plus they practice the entire time not sitting at home. Not really comparable IMO.

    • 16 is the worst of the three and is acceptable only if all other options are gone. In addition to the teams you mentioned the jets are 6th/7th in the west and had a favorable schedule down the stretch , however miss on percentage by 0.01. They have played the top teams and done the hard road trips and were on a win streak- how do you exclude them and say its fair?

      The league is right not to give up easily on 1 billion plus in revenue from playing the games and the players will want to save escrow too. Call it a tournament or whatever as it doesn’t matter as long as they meet the number of games required to satisfy tv contracts and award the cup to a deserving team. I like the 31 steam tournament idea but 24 is a good compromise.

  6. If your team was out of playoffs on a points percentage basis they have no one to blame but themselves. No one foresaw this. Just proceed with a normal playoff with no fans. Leave draft until after as the fans really tune in for potential trades beyond the top handful of picks.

  7. As a Ranger fan the 24 team format obviously is the one i prefer…..
    The top 4 in each conf get byes and there cant be sour grapes if the 5th place team loses in the first round.

    I read Leaf vs Rangers but not sure how that adds up…would be Rangers vs Canes who no one wants to face early

  8. This is so silly. I’m a pandemic… people are actually getting huffy and puffy over how the league resumes. 16 teams 20 teams 24 teams finish the season! Asterisk this. Cancel that.


    If the nhl can find a safe way to restart and successfully does so without serious health complications than all that is peanuts. Anyone who complains about “my sports team got ripped off cause they let this other team in” in the background of the world catastrophe needs to shove it. If a fan of a top seeded team has their team knocked out of the playoffs by a team that “wasn’t supposed to make it” spouts off they also need to cram it.

    If hockey or any sport safety resumes it’s a gift. Don’t throw a tantrum cause it’s not quite what you wanted.

    • Some people are going to enjoy the I’m a pandemic typo!

      • That was a typo? LOL😀

        On a personal aside; I’m hoping that you’ve fully recovered from the Shingles… yes???

        If so 👍

        If not …, 🤞🙏 for speedy recovery

  9. Geez, I miss hockey.
    Any sports

  10. 24 teams is plan stupid and doesn’t come close to being the best options.

    I can appreciate that your are entitle to your opinion regardless of it being wrong.

    • Even Crosby like the 24 team playoff………..and his opinion weighs more than your wrong opinion lol

  11. If we just leave out the teams for a minute and think about format, it will be quickly apparent why a 20 or 24 format doesn’t work. Play in rounds give those teams meaningful games while higher ranked teams wait. Coming into series after a warm up series VS a cold team is a huge advantage. 16 teams means everyone starts cold, even 8 team playoff same. Anything else would give an advantage to lower raked team. Other than 8 or 16 without play in causes uneven format. Regardless of teams, the formats themselves will influence final decision in my humble opinion.

    • AZWings, the idea floated by the NHL at one time (may have changed) was the top 4 teams play a round robin for seeding of the top 4. Next 4 do the same for 5 through 8 seeds.
      Bottom 16 play a 3 game series to get in. Seeds determined by standings for the winning squads. Win %.

      Start the playoffs with 16 teams, per usual, and everyone gets meaningful games first.

      Bruins win cup.

      • boom!
        I like it!

  12. Hang in there boys and girls won’t be long and sports will be back NASCAR and some golf this weekend and soon the big 4. Arenas will be full of screaming fans no way they are staying home open a beach and it’s full people tired of this stay inside crap.