NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2020

by | May 18, 2020 | News, NHL | 12 comments

Potential progress being made toward a 24-team playoff format, Eugene Melnyk hopes the 2020 draft will be held in June and the latest on Ryan Miller in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports sources claimed the NHL-NHLPA Return to Play committee made progress over the weekend toward a 24-team playoff format if the league resumes action this summer. He cautions more work needs to be done and it’s difficult to determine if a decision will be reached this week. Discussions are expected to continue in the coming days. LeBrun also reports the NHL Board of Governors will have a conference call slated for 3 pm ET today.

LeBrun indicated the potential format wouldn’t jump straight into playoff action, but would instead see some games leading up to the postseason. Several NHL players aren’t on board with this concept but it appears more of them would support that format. The committee also has to determine the timeline for when the self-isolation period is lifted to enable players to return to NHL facilities for small group workouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Washington Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas could be among the players against this idea. He reportedly believes the NHL should simply cancel the season. Gudas isn’t on the Return to Play committee, but I daresay his concerns are shared by some of his peers. He’ll get an opportunity to express his views to his NHLPA player rep, who’ll cast a vote on his teammates’ behalf on whether to resume the season. 

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is the latest team owner to state his belief the league will return to action soon. However, this proposed return-to-play plan is drawing criticism from several pundits. The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox dismisses the notion of summertime hockey, suggesting the league is running out of time to reach a decision. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson doesn’t see the sense of a 24-team playoff, though The Hockey New’s Ken Campbell points out the league can recoup more of its lost revenue with that format.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk (Photo via NHL.com).

Addressing the logistics of a 24-team format in four hub cities with many players cut off from their families while undergoing regular COVID-19 testing will be challenging. Gudas, Cox, and Matheson raise valid points that are likely shared by many hockey fans.

The NHL might not be able to pull this off. Nevertheless, they’re going to try. We’ll find out soon enough if they can do it. 


LeBrun also believes the 2020 NHL Draft will also be a topic of discussion among the Board of Governors today. He feels there’s been too much opposition to staging the draft before resuming the season. However, it doesn’t require official approval from the governors. The final decision rests with Commissioner Gary Bettman.

SPORTSNET: Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk hopes the league stages the draft lottery and the draft next month. “I just hope that we can have some events happen in June to keep people interested. And if that’s just a draft lottery, that would be great. If it’s a draft as a draft lottery that’s even better,” Melnyk said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Melnyk has good reason for wanting the lottery and the draft to be held next month. The Senators have three picks in the first round of this year’s draft, including two that would be second and third overall based on the current standings. That third-overall pick belonged to the San Jose Sharks.

Under the league’s proposed one-time change to this year’s draft lottery, the Senators would drop no lower than one place if a low-seeded club other than themselves or the Detroit Red Wings win the lottery. If they or the Sharks win, they’ll have the first and third overall selections.

The Senators wouldn’t be part of the proposed 24-team playoff format. Holding the lottery and the draft next month would give their fans something to get excited about for this summer and looking ahead to next season. 

THE SCORE: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller hopes to keep playing hockey next season, but acknowledged this pandemic could also force his retirement. “I mean the desire is there, but there’s going to be a lot of factors. First of all, we’re all going to have to address this new normal. What that means for sports and life – and wrapped up in that is family and how family is going to need to be taken care of during this time,” Miller said. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Where Miller is at this stage in his NHL career will also be a determining factor. The 39-year-old goalie is already in the twilight of his career. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. If he can’t sign with a California-based club, he could be forced to hang up his pads. 


  1. If they can get it done, they should try to finish this year’s season/playoffs. Based on what the medical/scientific community is saying, it seems highly unlikely that any winter sports league is going to be able to make it through next season due to a second wave of the infections. The vaccine is realistically about a year away at best. So…probably 2021-22 before a normal season with fans in the stands.

  2. I actually agree with gudas, when people’s lives are at stake is it really worth playing sports?

    • Sorry, disagree. They are paid athletes. Besides fact that most are in low risk age group as far as dying, they’ll be exposed to better protections than most workers. I understand how in the beginning hospitals where over run. Moving forward there will be vaccines sooner than a year away, but also therapeutics to treat virus. The goal is lowering death rate. People are going to get sick. For Gudkas to bellyache about this is a slap in the face to people who have been working through this crisis. And to those that will be soon. The ones that don’t get millions to play.

      • They might be in a low risk category but passing it to someone that isn’t is the risk, millions of dollars still isn’t worth one lost life

      • BBB. I understand those concerns. I’d assume players aren’t going back home without being tested. Assuming it’s a 24 team playoff. Within a couple weeks, half those teams will be done, and so on…. you keep widdling the field and lowering the risk. Get the season done and start planning future.

  3. Chrism, read your 2 replies from yesterday and thank you for expanding on your first comment.

    I will continue to say first and foremost the season should be cancel.

    As far as can’t see the forest because of the trees. Just so you know the trees are part of the forest. Yesterday i had to cut down a couple older trees for the safety and growth of others.

    Your most valid and accurate point is it a business and the NHL wants to recoup as much of that as possible.

    That’s is exactly why the NHL wants to get going and why they are considering 24 teams, it’s not about who should or should be in the playoffs it’s about gets as many teams as possible and build as much excitement as possible.

    Going from a traditional 16 teams to 24 teams, there is something else that grows; which is, the potential of someone contracting Covid-19.

    Canada is a whole is done well, it’s population is much smaller then the US and the citizen are more spread out.

    Nhl players have expressed concerns over returning to soon.

    I get we want some normality and for my world not much as changed but watching sports is always a good distraction.

    For me, i believe the season should be cancel and if they are to continue it should be the traditional 16 team format and the draft (held remotely) should follow.

    Will i watch? Nobody cares, with that said, if it’s a beautiful day out and Boston is on at 6pm, no i will be outside; when i come in and their still playing yes, i’ll watch and will watch the late west coast games.

    last comment on the Covid Cup what is the worst thing that can happen if the NHL returns to soon? A player gets Covid-19 and dies. How will that play out?

    • No question, Caper, that the health and safety of everyone should be paramount. Imagine if one player gets infected and dies.

      That said, there is little increased risk having an extra 8 teams playing. The risk is in playing at all.

      I understood your objections from yesterday to be that a 24 team playoff was unacceptable because it was a deviation from the traditional 16 team format, thus illegitimate.

      As Marco noted the 20-21 season is almost certain to be different from others: could it be shorter? Could it be without fans, or reduced fans spread out all over the arena? Could there be a suspension of play or rescheduled games due to a local outbreak?

      Or, could the NHL decide that for this next season there will be a 24 team playoff in order to minimize losses due to the almost certain reduction in league wide attendance?

      Playoff structures vary widely in sports. 8 of 30 teams make the playoffs in the MLB. In the NBA, teams have made the playoffs with losing records, and missed the playoffs with winning records. A 16 team NHL playoff format was an arbitrary choice.

      I am dead set against this year’s draft before the season is done. But all of us best get used to changes we don’t like. Because one guarantee arising from covid is things aren’t going to be normal in sports anymore than every day life.

    • Safety is the only valid reason to cancel the season. If the nhl or other sports leagues can’t figure out a way to do this that doesn’t bring risk to a minimum then cancel. However I think the leagues will find a way to minimize risk. The format is irrelevant to me. I’m not a proponent of 24 teams. I just don’t care about the format if they can do it safely.

      Players like gudas have the right to be concerned and shouldn’t have any consequences if they refuse. But many other players, particularly those that haven’t made their millions like radko are chompin at the bit. Lots of people could get back to work with this.

      As someone who works in a hospital I appreciate the social distancing efforts. But I also see the damage that it is causing elsewhere. There ain’t no perfect answer. But someday people and businesses have to dip their toes in the water.

      If 24 teams can help the league recoup Great.

      There will be an asterisk next to this year no matter what. My argument is that so long as it’s done safely the asterisk will be viewed mostly positively.

      And on your last point. Yes the risk is there. 0.1% of people in nhl players age groups get hospitalized with covid. The concern would be more about the support people. Hotel employees refs trainers coaches. If they an find a way to keep those people safe…. Godspeed.

      Nhl iand other leagues are going to do this. Let’s all hope and pray it turns out ok.

      And stop fretting over how many teams are in it.


      • Chrisms, can we lay off this asterisk stuff, please. There was no asterisk for the Cup winners in season shortened 94-95, nor in 2012-13. There is no good reason for suggesting an asterisk now and you are being as dogmatic about this as Caper is about the playoff format.

      • Mmmnnnnn. I think there is a miscommunication here lj. Cause I agree for the most part. There will be a something… asterisk…denotation… highlight… with this season. Just like with the lock out shortened season. But it won’t change the validity of the playoffs or cup champion.

        Dogmatic. Hurumph

      • LJ I like “Dogmatic” I think i’ll change my handle

  4. I hope these “playoffs” don’t bleed into next fall. The idea of starting NHL season in November sucks to me. I know all sports is in the same boat. I hope the draft is in June. Give everyone a little something to look forward too. Teams have been preparing for this (early draft. The fact that have less prospect history to go by, but that’s not going to change in the next few months. There will be no tournaments etc. Just do it.