NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2020
Kings GM Rob Blake will find positives in resuming the season, an update on Jeff Carter, Capitals winger Brendan Leipsic in hot water over offensive comments, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE LATEST ON A POSSIBLE RESUMPTION OF THE NHL SEASON
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Despite his club being out of playoff contention if the season resumes, LA Kings general manager Rob Blake believes it could be worth it. “We will find positives by playing those games,” he said. “That’s our mentality. It’s expected of us.” Despite the different scenarios being floated around, Blake said the message to his players is to keep the same mindset. “There are still games to be played.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Among the positives is assessing the performance of their promising young players, as well as potential free-agent veterans battling for jobs.
NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien reports we shouldn’t expect to see Jeff Carter in the lineup if the Kings return to action. Blake indicated the veteran center hasn’t been able to travel to see a specialist regarding a core muscle injury because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carter continues to rehab at home.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Brien speculates other aging NHL veterans on cellar-dwelling clubs, such as San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, could also be shut down for the rest of the season.
THE DETROIT NEWS: While the last-place Red Wings have nothing to play for if the schedule re-starts, winger Justin Abdelkader feels it would still be beneficial. “You can work on your skills and development, you can get better, and there’s going to be an opportunity to get better. As a team, and for me personally, that can help lead into the following season.”
SPORTSNET: British Columbia Premier John Horgan has written to the NHL and NHL Players’ Association offering a place to play if the league seeks a hub city to resume the season. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have also spoken to the league about staging games in Toronto and Edmonton.
TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment was forced to change its date for initial payments of season tickets for Maple Leafs and Raptors games following an angry backlash from season-ticket holders. The first payment was slated for May 8 but has been changed to June 8 for now. Given the uncertainty over when the NHL and NBA will return to action amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ticket holders felt MLSE was showing disregard to the fans.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports a long-time Maple Leafs and Raptors season-ticket holder said he wouldn’t return to watch live games until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine or assurance the virus has been defeated.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: MLSE’s tone-deafness aside, getting fans to return to games next season could be challenging for pro sports in general and the NHL in particular, considering they’re the most gate-reliant of the major professional sports leagues.
The league plans to resume this season without fans and are considering starting next season in December in hopes social-distancing restrictions will be lifted by then. If there’s still no vaccine and little assurance the coronavirus has been contained by then, however, fans could still be reluctant to return.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks assume their arena (SAP Center) will be among the last to open for NHL games. They’re examining different scenarios for reopening once the pandemic ends based on local health guidelines.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals and the NHL condemned offensive comments made in a private group chat on social media by Brendan Leipsic and Florida Panthers forward Jack Rodewald. Leipsic made derogatory remarks toward teammates Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, several former Vancouver Canucks teammates, and the wife of a current Canucks player.
Leipsic deleted his Instagram account and issued a statement on Twitter claiming his friend’s account was hacked and those comments were circulated on social media. He apologized for his “misogynistic and reprehensible” remarks but faces a meeting with Capitals GM Brian MacLellan to discuss the matter.
TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is recovering well from an injured spleen suffered in early March, but he won’t return to action if this season resumes. He’s on track to be ready for the start of 2020-21.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed defensemen Christian Djoos and Jani Hakanpaa to one-year contract extensions Wednesday. Djoos accepted $1 million, down from $1.25 million for this season, while Hakanpaa will be paid $750,000, down from $850,000. The cuts could be linked to uncertainty over next season’s salary cap limits.
AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes provided money to Gila River Arena to pay their staff during the pandemic but they’ve yet to be paid.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils will donate 10,000 tickets for next season to health care workers with RWJBarnabas Health in honor of National Nurses Day and Week.