NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2020

by | May 8, 2020 | News, NHL | 40 comments

Potential playoff formats are under consideration, plans for the 2020 Draft remain uncertain and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL/NHLPA “Return to Play” committee discussed returning with 16, 20, or 24-team playoff formats. Of the three, the 24-team format appears to be garnering some traction. That format would see non-playoff clubs like Montreal and Chicago getting postseason berths. “But again, let me stress. Nothing is decided. These are just the conversations that are being had between both sides this week,” said LeBrun.

Darren Dreger suggests a “play-in” format that trims those 24 teams down to the traditional 16 playoff clubs, rather than playing out the remainder of the regular season. This format would allow the league to get through the process quickly in case there’s a second COVID-19 wave in the fall. “If the NHL once again has to shut down in September, maybe October, maybe drift into November, there’s a built-in break, and then they reset and get going on the 2020-21 season again as late as December,” he said.

Frank Seravalli said the cost of COVID-19 testing and sterilizing dressing rooms and the rest of the facility could reach tens of millions of dollars. “So far, to this point, the NHL has determined that the juice would be worth the squeeze but we’ll see as these continue to add up,” said Seravalli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA had considered resuming the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule and the playoffs. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports one reason they’re exploring other options is it would avoid bringing back teams with no chance of reaching the playoffs and having them play a month’s worth of meaningless games.

He also said it would reduce how long players would have to spend in hub cities, especially those that go deep into the postseason. Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk recently said he and his fellow players with families aren’t keen to spend up to four months separated from their families. “Nobody with kids is going to want to be away for three or four months at a time. I think that’s a lot to ask out of guys.” Dubnyk missed part of this season to be with his wife while she was dealing with a serious medical condition, so he has an additional reason not to be away from his family for a long period.

Brooks added going directly to a playoff tournament would allow for a draft lottery in which the seven clubs that don’t make the playoff cut could be eligible for the first-overall pick in this year’s draft.

While I understand the league’s desire to recoup some of its losses by completing the regular season, returning immediately with a postseason format makes the most sense. Nevertheless, we still await a final decision. With the pandemic still ongoing, cancellation of the season and playoffs remains a real possibility.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports debate continues over the format of the 2020 NHL Draft. It appeared an early-June draft was a foregone conclusion, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said everything is still on the table.

June 5 was believed the target date, though options later in the month are also under consideration. Some NHL teams are uncomfortable with staging the draft before resuming the season, while some general managers aren’t happy over being prevented from making trades involving active players while the schedule is paused.

TSN: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he’s among the majority of GMs who prefer staging the draft after the season is completed. “I think most of the managers would like it to happen in a natural order,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman believes no decision this week would mean the date to stage the draft would be pushed later than the June 5-6 timeframe originally proposed by the league. The fact there hasn’t been a decision yet suggests the league may have encountered more pushback from team owners and general managers or perhaps unforeseen issues arose that require more time to address.

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman cites an Angus Reid poll indicating one-quarter of hardcore Canadian sports fans polled indicate they wouldn’t attend a sports event in October or November until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. “Another 40% said they would have to do some deliberating before making up their minds and 35% said they would attend with no reservations.” Wyman suggests this underlines the difficulty for pro sports in returning to normal following the pandemic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL revenue will likely feel the effects of this pandemic beyond 2020. That could take a toll on the salary cap for 2021-22. 


TSN: Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price reached out to give support to two boys who lost their parents during last month’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

THE SCORE: The New Jersey Devils interviewed Dallas Stars assistant coach John Stevens for their head-coaching job.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Alex Kerfoot’s family rink gives him a training advantage over his fellow players during their self-quarantine period.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes Brendan Leipsic’s recent offensive comments on Instagram could cost the winger his NHL career.

SPORTSNET: The Kontinental Hockey League will not name a champion after stopping its season part-way through the playoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.


  1. Seems like EVERYBODY and his dog has a “better and makes more sense” way to finish the season … but regardless of the format they choose there will be many who are not satisfied.

    However, and just my feeling based solely on the pandemic showing no real signs of being completely curtailed anywhere, I believe all this talk will continue until the day Bettman finally and reluctantly announces that both the season and the playoffs have been terminated. And that will apply to all other sports as well.

    The optimists can point to selected areas and say “see – no new cases in over X weeks” (as New Brunswick was doing) and figure things can start getting back to normal. But all it will take is for some individual who has the virus and not even know it, to enter that area (as recently happened in New Brunswick), and it will spread quickly. In the meantime, forget the large urban centres that are probably teeming with asymptomatic carriers us and spreading it around without knowing it.

    Kinda like Typhoid Mary but on a much larger scale.

    Until a fool-proof vaccine is developed and made available world-wide, this will continue and could even get worse. And even then we’ll have to deal with the anti-vaccine conspiracy-around-every-corner wing-nuts who will remain a danger to children too young to be vaccinated – as happens now with measles, chicken-pox and the flu.


    • George O, thanks for your positive and uplifting spirit .

      • What I DON’T do is sugar-coat anything. That gets you nowhere. You prefer that approach? Fine Chaque-une a son gout

      • George O sound like you live in a perpetual state of distain.

      • Sugar coating donuts gets them into my tummy!

      • No, Caper, I’m just pragmatic. None of us is Willy Wonka and so shouldn’t try to sugar-coat crap.

    • Old guy complaining about the world today, coming below, so I apologize in advance.

      Ya, the world is changing George. I know that regulating Facebook, Youtube etc and trying to keep out lies for profit is a slippery slope we may not want to go down, but it has proven to be amazingly effective. But trusting people’s judgement is proving to be not as effective as one would have thought or hoped.
      My wife works with an anti-vaccine person about my age, and the stuff she forwards is crazy. She believes it to her bones and is incredibly passionate about it. They play on people emotions and anger appears to be most effective. I can’t see how anyone could possibly change this person’s mind and it doesn’t matter how many facts you present or who is presenting them. Experts are now part of the conspiracy and any news that factually disputes your version of reality is “fake news” from “elites”. This person is good at her job and when you don’t talk about this subject a nice and articulate person.
      I never thought that this many, otherwise decent people could be this misinformed. Mind blowing and concerning.

      • They sure do march to to their own drummer Ray. Now I hear their confrères with The Flat Earth Society are voicing their concerns that social-distancing could soon start to push some of their members over the edge!

    • George: a little crusty today? I agree with much of what you say, particularly your last paragraph, actually. We’re all happy that restrictions are being loosened but yeah, stepping back into the unknown with its risks is still there. Feels like creeping around your house in the wee hours hoping that sound wasn’t a burglar.

      What happens when a player tests positive? Doesn’t it take that team out of the playoffs? And wouldn’t that blow the playoff structure up? It does indeed make the NHL’s plans seem like building a house of cards in a tempest.

      But, crusty sage of Ontario, I think the NHL will do all it can to implement a playoff series. It’s all about the money,

      • Oh, there’s no doubt about the motivation LJ. But in the end they are at the mercy of the politicians who are as motivated by their political futures as businesses (including sports) are about the $$$.

        The politicos know that they are not a bottomless pit when it comes to financial hand-outs, and so the importance of getting economies back on track. But sports is not at the top of any of their lists and the LAST thing they’d need is to open up too fast – i.e., without a fool-proof vaccine – and see an even worse outbreak. in which case they can kiss their political butts goodbye. Even those who otherwise support them from a political stance will turn on them with a vengeance if they begin to lose loved ones on an even greater scale.

        A non-democracy like the military dictatorship in China need not worry about being voted out and with a billion-and-a-half to begin with, losing a few hundred thousand more is nothing to them.

    • Massive, massive respect for healthcare workers…doctors, nurses, psw’s, etc!
      They are staring this pandemic in the face.

      Leipsec is done! Wonder who he gets filled in by first on the street

      • Thank you!

      • Chrisms – double that sentiment by FD re health-care workers – something I extend to the cashiers and other staff at the grocery store and pharmacy every time I go to either.

      • George O, don’t forget the workers at the gas and convience business, as they are as stressed as much as others.

      • True Caper, didn’t mean to exclude them. I have an everlasting respect for all of them – as well as our police and military.

  2. Finally it seems that they are coming back to reality

    The completion of full season for all; reg playoff format; and draft before both …. I repeat …. ludicrous

    I’m with George in that there still lies a possibility of full cancelation of season AND playoffs but I’m thinking it is now getting traction on play-off focus and getting something out of it; allowing a bit more flex in time and appeasing more concerns

    Again (hit repeat button here) the bottom 7 have little to play for …. narrow narrow narrow window/odds of moving on ….. ZERO to play for re Wings

    If season over and right to playoffs; to me 24 in is best solution

    20 in (10 a side) and NYR unfairly gets nudged (so very very tight) out on points percentage

    At 16 …. boon to my Leafs; but I see it as completely unfair to Panthers then …. they have a head to head left with Leafs; if just that single game was played and Panthers win in reg…. with 16 in only and decided on points percentage …. Panthers in; Leafs out… just sayin’

    Best …. 24 in; still games needed to warm up… suggest 3 games each (for all 24 teams) … only intra-div; games used only to do final rank/placement of the 24 (not to eliminate any of the 24)… and games should be focused on match-ups that could flip rank (e.g. the Leafs-Panthers game a must)

    Once final rank…. top 2 in each Div get a bye…. other 8 play best of 3 to get to 16 teams …. proceed like reg playoffs after that

    Draft …. AFTER SC awarded


  3. As a fan who is fortunate enough to cover the NHL for my living, I’d love to see the league finish the rest of the regular season and stage a full playoff format this summer. It would sort out the playoff races, resume my full writing schedule, and restore this site’s ad revenue back to its usual numbers. I’ll be happy if they decide to jump straight into the post-season, even if it’s a reduced schedule.

    However, I only want them to do this if they can ensure the full health and safety of everyone involved. If it’s not possible, then don’t put anyone at risk. Cancel the season and look toward hopefully staging a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21.

    That way, we can at least have a normal draft, the freeze on trades will be lifted, and free agency can begin. It would be a long offseason, but t I think most hockey fans would accept. It would certainly be better than the limbo we’re in right now!

    • Totally agree Lyle. Looking at everything with a pragmatic eye makes it difficult to see a light at the end of this tunnel until we know a viable vaccine is ready to implement.

      In the meantime, those trying to sugar-coat s**t should stop – it serves absolutely NO useful purpose other than to comfort the gullible who are then open to even greater disappointment down the line, None of them – or us – is Willy Wonka.

    • Hi Lyle

      Fair a prudent rationale; 👍👍

      I’d also be in a mental “void” w/o any hockey until Nov (other than draft/trades/UFA season)

      I’m ok with that over

      1) full resumption of everything and having draft before that; or

      2) Just playoffs at 16 or 20 with draft before

      If they do a safely run 24 field playoff; then draft then UFA season…. I’m OK with it

      Just my gut feeling at odds

      Full resumption ; draft before; reg 16 tm playoff format…. 5%

      Full cancelation ; draft then UFA season …. 5 %

      Bottom7 out; resumption to 74-76 games for rest; reg 16 team play-off format…. 5 %

      7 out; warm up games 24 Team playoffs …. 50 %

      11 out; warm up ; 20 team …. 25 %

      15 out, warm up; reg 16 team playoffs … 10%


      GO PENS GO

  4. The reality of the situation is that the shutdowns are unsustainable to sports and the economy and everything that it downstream from those things. There has to be a re-opening, the questions remains how much can we do and how can we do it without restarting the dreaded curve. Ultimately, a vaccine or effective anti-viral drug is the only long-term solution to this influenza-like illness. Virus studies and data are still emerging regarding the mutation rate. Vaccines are only good for diseases that don’t have frequent mutations.
    Sadly, I think George is right…and even worse is that I believe next season will face the same fate unless the solution as discussed is found or society grows numb to the 5-10% mortality of this disease.

    • Even if society becomes numb to certain mortality rates, think of the effect of inflected players first on their team, and secondly on their opposition teams?

      It is not hard to follow it through: enough players on a team in quarantine to render it out of action. Other teams refusing to play a team suffering an outbreak. It can all fall apart so easily.

      Much as I wish it will be different …

    • A friend and I spent time this morning talking on the phone about professional sports and the CFL in particular.
      Today’s headlines had the CFL commisssioner quoted as saying the most likely scenario for the CFL at this point is the cancellation of the 2020 season. Speculation around that statement included the question of whether the CFL can survive after a lost year, given that it’s a money-losing proposition at the best of times.
      It’s fair comment and I think it can be applied across the entire sport spectrum.
      Hockey in North America encompasses not just the pro leagues – it includes Junior A, the CHL, the USHL and other junior leagues; it also includes university hockey in Canada and the NCAA in the United States. Every level of hockey faces an uncertain future.
      As fans, we focus on the NHL and we speculate on its return and, like so many other parts of this pandemic, the definitive answer is, “We don’t have a clue.”
      My buddy and I feel that the Canadian Football League will find some way to survive – it always has.
      And the NHL will survive too – question is how? To which I say, “Don’t have a clue.”

      • BC
        I don’t get it. NFL came out yesterday with their schedule. Mid September they plan to play football, maybe flag football with face masks instead of helmets, but that’s the plan.
        In order for them to start Mid September they would be at training camp Mid July, Preseason games August. So why can’t CFL do the same time frame ?
        As for College, Juniors and AHL etc, huge problem as to what do you do with prospects ?

        The big hit will be September when all those expensive colleges get cancellation notices
        “I’m not paying Yale $ 50,000 a year to have my kid sit in my living room taking an online course”. That will be very painful for education system.

  5. So many of these posts make perfect sense…if the virus was killing large numbers of the young, and or hockey players!
    Why is no one allowed to say that a certain number of people getting sick… AN ACCEPTABLE RISK?

    • That sounds a lot like the “collateral damage” baloney we hear now and then from militarists.

      • Is everything black and white in your world, or are other views /colors allowed?

      • Maybe I read your comment wrong wi doupe, but it comes across like you’re condoning “a certain number of people getting sick …” as an acceptable risk.

        if THAT is what you are saying, then thank Krist I choose to live in a black and white world.

        In your world – IF that is indeed what you’re implying – It will only be acceptable until it happens to you.

    • Well, here’s the math required to discuss risk, and you are allowed to say it, and it is THE question. Most people aren’t worried about getting sick, it’s the dying part. If I knew I would only be sick for 2 weeks and then fine, then let’s get this over with I’d do it today if I would be immune.
      I used Ontario’s as they have the most cases and the biggest sample size.
      Age group 20-39 the death rate is 0.2% or, 1 in 500. Pre-existing conditions? I don’t know.
      Alberta’s rate is a little bit less but not that far off, and the guy that did die here had no existing conditions, was 28, athletic and fit. That has been reported.

      690 players in the NHL, so if they all got it odds are 1 dies from the average in those 2 provinces.
      Acceptable risk or not?
      They are obviously going to take precautions so that all of them getting it is totally remote. But if some do get it, there is a good chance others, not just hockey players, do as well. And on from there.

      So if someone asked you to reach into a bag of 500 skittles and 1 was filled with poison and would kill you, would you reach in? How much $$ would you need to do it?
      Again, they can do this safely and if the PA agrees to it, have at er, we can’t shut the world down completely and forever. We are allowed to make choices in our society.
      The question is correct – what is reasonable risk. Just wanted to point out what the risk actually is as some folks no healthy young people die from this. They actually do.

      • Not bad but the skittles thing is a poor example. The better example would be a bag of 500 skittles… reach in and one could kill you and/or an undisclosed amount of other people you could also kill with that skittle before you knew you selected the bad one.

      • Valid point Chrisms

  6. What about all the damage, both physical, and emotional RUINING THE ECONOMY DOES?

    • There won’t be anyone left to support an economy if this damned thing mutates and goes hog-wild. Right now, no one in science has a clue as to its potential. NOT – A – CLUE. And until they get one they need to be damned careful.

      No one to this day has a clue how the so-called Spanish Flu sprang up simultaneously at a U.S. military base in Kansas and in Bombay, India – thousands of miles apart and long before travel measured in hours. And it wound up killing over 60 MILLION!

    • Oh boy. Another one of those “what about the economy people.” Problem with that attitude, wl, is that the people who are willing to risk their health are also willing to risk others’ health too. Infect a health care worker? Acceptable collateral damage? That somehow never gets aired by them.

      None of us live on an isolated, self sustaining island. We all rely on other people for all the things that keep us alive.

      Yes, some risk is inevitable. We have to have jobs to feed ourselves. But whining comments about “ruining the economy” is witless hysteria.

      Find a way to conduct your life without any help or interaction with others and you can whoop it up for the preeminence of the economy all you want. Until then, put a sock in it.

      Black and white enough for you?

  7. As a healthcare worker I appreciate everyone’s efforts to keep us and others safe. Being smart and not taking unnecessary risks is important. Depending n the situation though getting people back to work and restarting the economy are not necessarily unnecessary risks. Lives are ruined through that as well as the disease.

    Hockey as an entertainment venue is an unnecessary risk. Hockey as an economic driver and job creator is a different story.

    No easy answer and neither side holds the moral high ground.

    • Well said Chrisms.

  8. WI, I don’t have a problem with your opinion. You might be right. The question is risk and we will learn as this unfolds.
    My point was that, whenever leagues open, they will be changed and that change could be permanent. One example might be NCAA hockey, men and women, which might conceivably lose its scholarship status and become a club sport. Junior hockey, almost completely gate driven, could change dramatically. The list goes on and on.
    How will it all unfold? Seriously we don’t have a clue.

    • Even going down a step or two lower, BCLeafFan, is what happens to Canadian feeder hockey for major junior – the Junior A, the midget, bantam and pee wee leagues from which spring tomorrow’s Major Junior/NCAA stars (not sure what the category equivalents are in the U.S. which feed the top U.S. Junior structure and NCAA – but it’ll be the same there if social-distancing is controlled until there’s a vaccine).

      • George, in the AJHL (Jr A in AB) they have suggested the players pay to play. Like minor hockey.
        No idea what the response will be like.

      • That MIGHT work Ray … if most have parents who still have jobs or who have jobs themselves. But right now doesn’t the Alberta unemployment rate lead the nation on a per capita basis?