NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2020
The latest on the NHL’s efforts to resume its season and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Burnside reports recent suggestions the NHL’s Return to Play committee might have a plan for restarting the season by this week could be optimistic given the back-and-forth between the players and league on a final format. Both sides appear to favor an expanded playoff format involving 24 teams. “Twelve teams from each of the two conferences would gather in four hub cities, six teams per city,” writes Burnside.
An extended period of training for up to three weeks would be required before the playoffs begin. Burnside cites multiple sources suggesting a round-robin lead-in of five games, using points percentage from that tournament combined with regular-season points percentage would give the top two teams in each division a bye, with the bottom four clubs playing a best-of-three to determine the traditional 16-team postseason field.
Burnside also reports the list of potential hub cities has been narrowed to “Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Vegas, Dallas, and Minneapolis/St. Paul as the front-runners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s was reportedly some pushback against a 24-team playoff format from some quarters, as it would allow the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens – who were all but eliminated from playoff contention when the schedule was paused – into this proposed tournament. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks, however, feels the NHL needs those big-market clubs (as well as the New York Rangers) to make a big splash upon its return and energize more of the league’s fan base.
Brooks also scoffs at critics worried the 24th place Canadiens could win the Stanley Cup under that scenario, pointing out no one had a problem with the 13th-overall Los Angeles Kings winning the Cup in 2012. He also noted the absurdity of the current format in which teams with the best regular-season records meeting in the second round.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reported Friday the NHL Players Association is voting this weekend to determine if they’ll extend their deferral of receiving their final paychecks by another month. He considers it a good sign of healthy dialogue between the players and the league, which could bode well for future CBA negotiations.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently singled out some potential CBA changes proposed by several NHL executives during a survey conducted by The Athletic. They include reducing contract term limits and limiting no-trade/no-movement clauses to players 30 and older, as well as addressing signing bonuses and uneven year-to-year salaries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be some sticky issues for both sides to sort out in the next round of CBA talks, but reports for the past two years indicate preliminary discussions were cordial before the pandemic pause. Bear in mind that while some executive will push for those aforementioned changes, there’s no certainty their views are shared among their peers.
With the two sides working closely together to navigate a path toward returning to action, it could lead to a better labor relationship. The league and the players need each other now. They cannot afford another lockout coming out of this current crisis.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would like to place former Oilers and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli with the Arizona Coyotes. Bettman would also like to see former Coyotes captain Shane Doan return to the club in the front office but there are “apparently some bad feelings about how everything ended for him in 2017.”
Simmons claims there’s word NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire interviewed for the general manager’s job with the New Jersey Devils. McGuire denies it. “They have a GM,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Craig Morgan covers the Coyotes for The Athletic. In a recent mailbag segment, he expressed doubt over Chiarelli joining the Coyotes.
PUCKPEDIA: Part One of a three-part player agents poll examined such issues as the minimum age for drafting players, as well as changes to entry-level contracts and arbitration.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Several notable Blue Jackets sidelined by injuries when the schedule was paused will be ready to go if the season resumes this summer. They include defenseman Seth Jones and forwards Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstand, and Alexandre Texier. Winger Josh Anderson (shoulder) could also be ready to return, depending on when play resumes.