NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2020

by | May 28, 2020 | News, NHL | 11 comments

The latest on the hub cities bids, Red Wings confirm Jeff Blashill will return as head coach, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Max Domi, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


TSN: Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among the 10 under consideration to serve as the two host cities for the NHL’s 24-team tournament to determine the 2020 Stanley Cup champion. However, they will be out of the running if the Canadian government doesn’t exempt NHL players from its 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for non-essential travelers crossing the Canadian border. The league indicated it will decide on the two host cities in another three or four weeks.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has sent a letter to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau encouraging the federal government to deem professional athletes and training staff as essential workers. BC Premier John Horgan also hopes Vancouver will become a hub city but said his province’s 14-day self-quarantine rule will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan isn’t calling on the local or provincial governments to push for Toronto as a host city. Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sports, and tourism, is willing to make the case with the federal government.

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The U.S. government recently signed legislation deeming pro athletes essential workers, lifting restrictions on NHL players from other countries traveling to work into the United States. If the Canadian government doesn’t follow suit, both hub cities will be in the U.S.

Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Columbus are believed among the leading candidates, but they could have competition from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is allowing sports teams in his state to return to action, and the Penguins have submitted a bid to become an NHL host. 


THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the expanded 24-team playoff format is a one-off. “I think our regular season is incredible. Our competitive balance is extraordinary. Our playoffs are the best in sports. What we have is terrific. This is dealing with a unique situation. This, in my view, is a one-time thing.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers wondered if the league would considering expanding future playoffs if the 24-team format proves popular with fans. While Bettman is shooting down that possibility, one can’t help but wonder if the expansion of the league to 32 teams might see some within the league push for a 20-team format. 

ESPN.COM: Donald Fehr, Executive Director of the NHL Players’ Association, said the PA will defer to the proper health authorities if a player tests positive for COVID-19 during the tournament. He expects management will pick up the costs of testing players and considers it unlikely a player will be suspended or have their contract terminated for testing positive for the coronavirus. 

Fehr also said the PA continues to negotiate with the league regarding players with underlying medical conditions, living in hub cities, separation from families, and critical dates calendar, but believes the two sides will find resolutions to those issues. He wouldn’t say how much the remaining decisions might be tied to a new collective bargaining agreement. Asked if the relationship between the league and the PA has been collaborative, Fehr declined to “put any adjectives” on it, suggesting people would interpret it in different ways.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Fehr’s comments, the two sides are working together to come up with an acceptable return-to-play plan. There’s been plenty of reports since the summer of 2018 over the appearance of an improved negotiating relationship regarding a new CBA. Nevertheless, time will tell if this means labor peace is on the horizon.

THE SCORE: listed six deals that could be in limbo involving conditional draft picks. Among them, Toronto’s conditional first-round pick sent to Carolina last June in the Patrick Marleau trade, the two picks Arizona sent to New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade, and Vancouver’s 2020 first-round pick sent to Tampa Bay for J.T. Miller that was later sent to New Jersey to acquire Blake Coleman.


THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said Jeff Blashill will return as head coach next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are in the midst of a major rebuild. Blashill couldn’t be faulted for the lack of skilled depth throughout the roster this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya welcomed their second son Ilya on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Ovechkins.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said the team and the league would never put Max Domi in a situation that would expose him to COVID-19. Domi is diabetic and more susceptible to contracting the virus. Bergevin said Domi won’t play if the medical staff says he can’t play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Safe to say that will apply to all NHL players with underlying medical conditions.

Bergevin also said Jonathan Drouin is cleared to play, but Jesperi Kotkaniemi might not be fully recovered from his spleen injury to take part in the qualifying round.

AMNY.COM: New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech has been cleared to play. He’d been sidelined since January with an Achilles injury. Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Johnny Boychuk will also be ready to participate in the qualifying round.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad underwent season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair a herniated disc

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Lawrence Pilut is reportedly considering signing a contract with a KHL team. However, this could be a negotiating ploy on his part. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

SPORTSNET: NHL Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy are among the 11 new inductees into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. O’Ree has been involved in many diversity initiatives at all levels of hockey, while Kennedy has spent years advocating to protect vulnerable athletes and victims of sexual abuse.



  1. Congrats Ovi and Nastya ; welcome Ilya

    Re Hubs…. personally I think they should be in one country…. if so…. my guess would be LV/Pitt or Ed/Van

    If they do have 1 Can 1 US; as Bettman said they don’t both have to be in different conference and could be in the same time zone (which I’m absolutely OK with) …. I could easily see Ed/LV

    Re Bjug… sad to see a player go down to injury and a C who can/does play W…. but in reality he only played 13 games all season with only 2 points (1&1) so production-wise Pens haven’t lost much. To be transparent , I had oft proposed trading him; and had posted my hopes that he would be moved off-season to free up cap space. Not sure how long this operation will have him out for ; but it just may make trading him impossible

    • Pengy, don’t you think there will be a hub city in the east to better accomodate television?
      Personally I don’t see the federal government waiving the 14 day requirement for international arrivals and, as a result, both hubs will be south of the border.
      Can we expect fog in the arena in Las Vegas in the summer? Hmmmm.

      • Hi BC Leaf Fan

        You have a valid point. Betman said that having both in the East or both in the West or both in the same time zone was NOT ruled out.

        Since there would be no travel and no timezone shifts for the players then adjusting start times in that time zone to accomodate the broadest audience is plausible.

        My understanding was that for at least the “weed out” and round of 16, that at least 2 if not three games would be played on a given day… so time zone issues are not going to eliminate live broadcasts in non prime time for whatever time zone

        Re no exemption likely from Ottawa for a Canadian Hub…. most likely, but not 100% now so Edmonton is still in the running I would say

        Re ice Fog in LV…. there would have to be moisture in the air—LOL… twice when I’ve been there the temp was North of 105 F… but I felt better in that than 80F in TO on a high humidex day. Was very very muggy here two days ago and it was 83F and our house is very close to Lake Ontario—- so with a breeze… whew was it ever overbearing

  2. Hi Lyle

    Re “one can’t help but wonder if the expansion of the league to 32 teams might see some within the league push for a 20-team format. “

    Fully agree with your statement and I support this (20)

    I posted the other day that pre Sharks expansion…. for over a decade 16 of 21 (76%).

    Keeping at 16 after Seattle joins …. 50 %!!!???

    The Covid playoffs are 77% (24/31)…. so with the (IMHO) silly 16 (50%) after Seattle; then to me 20/32 (~63%) is absolutely fine….. perhaps…. two added WCs per Conf; top 6 in each Conf get bye; 4 WCs in each Conf ; pair off; play best of 3; after which ending in 16 teams (just like the last 4 decades).

    The max added to the sched season s 12 (all 4 series go 3 games) total playoff games (5 -6 extra days)….. just sayin’

    • Hi, Pengy. More than a few NHL pundits have mused about the possibility of the league expanding the playoff format to 20 teams at some point after Seattle joins the league. While the league may be reluctant to change its format in the near future, I can see it expanded by the end of this decade, especially if this pandemic has a long-term effect upon league revenue.

      • Hi Lyle

        Yessiree Bob

        I think the Covid 24 will push the envelope on going to 20 but it has to (IMHO) happen permanently, very very soon.

        Even pre expansion in ’67 ; 4 of 6 (67%) made it; later 8 of 12 (still 67%); and as I said before ; post WHA merger up to Sharks coming in …16/21 (76%)…. with Seattle… 16 of 32 (50%) does not make sense for me.

        Re best of 5 or best of 7 for first round… first 1/2 of the 80’s, the first round was a best of 5

        NHL changes with the times; and I believe the time to change playoff format for at least the next decade; starts with the ’22 playoffs

  3. Interesting that the Pitt/Minn conditional trade was not mentioned. Pittsburgh had the option of waiting till 21′ to send Minn their 1st round pick if they missed the playoffs. They had till June 1st to exercise that option. Pittsburgh is not technically in the playoffs yet and if they lose to Montreal would have a lottery spot for the 15th pick in the draft. I would assume since the play-in won’t start until July that the league has to extend that June first decision date until after the play-in round is finished.

    • I thought the pick was lotto protected. Different language than protected if the miss the playoffs.

      Pittsburgh would be a good city. Plenty of local hotels to the arena. Good healthcare right next door. And there ain’t 💩 to do in downtown Pittsburgh so it’s not a temptation to the players to go out and socialize.

      • You don’t think they’d stay in their hotel rooms in Vegas and play with their race sets like the Hanson Brothers??

      • I’m more worried bout those young ladies on the pamphlets they hand out on the strip.

      • @george , knock knock… the Hanson’s lmao thx for the laughs!