NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2020

by | Jun 14, 2020 | News, NHL | 12 comments

An update on Vladimir Tarasenko, the latest return-to-play news, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues scoring star Vladimir Tarasenko is reportedly ready to return to action when the 24-team playoff tournament begins later this summer. In an interview with The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford, Blues head coach Craig Berube complimented the 28-year-old winger for his rehab efforts and remaining in shape as he recovered from early-season shoulder surgery.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko is one of the Blues’ corp players and a key reason they won the Stanley Cup last season. Having their top sniper healthy in time for the proposed playoff tournament provides a welcome boost to the Blues’ offense as they attempt to defend their championship. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Eastern Conference teams participating in the playoff tournament will play in Las Vegas, which is expected to be named one of the two host cities.

The top-four Eastern clubs (Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia) have a bye from the qualifying round and will play a round-robin against each other to determine their final seeding. The qualifying round matchups see the New York Rangers face Carolina, New York Islanders take on Florida, Pittsburg against Montreal, and Toronto versus Columbus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rationale here is to remove any possibility of home-ice advantage. In other words, the Vegas Golden Knights won’t be able to benefit from playing in their home arena during the tournament.

Brooks also reports Games 1 and 2 and Games 3 and 4 of the qualifying round will be played back-to-back with one day off in between. That’s similar to the playoff scheduling format for the first two rounds in 1980-1984 and for the first round throughout the 1980s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For hockey fans with no memory of what the 1980s playoff schedule was like, here’s your chance to see if it was as good as older fans claim it was.

It has yet to be determined if non-NHL players signed to NHL contracts for next season will be allowed to participate in the tournament.

Brooks also reports the 2020-21 season could start in December or January to play as much of the schedule as possible with fans in the stands. It could be conducted with a conference-only format.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the league is strongly encouraging players in need of extending their work visas through the post-season to return to Canada or the United States (depending on which of the two countries they play in) by June 21. The league’s usual annual calendar expires on June 30.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman writes that it could generate some dissatisfaction among the players because it’s not mandatory to report to their NHL cities under the current phase of the return-to-play plan. Nevertheless, this will be necessary if the players on work visas intend to be ready when training camp opens on July 10.

THE SCORE: Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot told The Athletic she’s hopeful her city will be selected as one of the two hosts for the playoff tournament. She feels Chicago is well-situated to accommodate 12 NHL teams, pointing out the ongoing decline in COVID-19 cases within the state. The league is expected to formally announce the host cities on June 22

ARIZONA SPORTS: A Coyotes staff member tested positive for COVID-19. He is asymptomatic and is self-isolating at home while those who were in close contact with him have been notified. He’s the only member of the team who tested positive during the club’s Phase 2 testing protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s also the second NHL person this past week to test positive for the coronavirus. This is yet another indication of the difficulty the league faces to ensure the health and safety of its players and staff to complete this season. While Las Vegas is reportedly one of the two host cities, these tests could have an effect upon the decision for the second city.



  1. …”The rationale here is to remove any possibility of home-ice advantage. In other words, the Vegas Golden Knights won’t be able to benefit from playing in their home arena during the tournament”… No western conferences, in the playoffs, would be a host city.

  2. Lyle, re your post and comment above about virus testing, I repeat the essence of what I posted late yesterday in the headlines thread.

    The whole testing charade is, when you think about it, an exercise in futility in any attempt to stop the steady spread. What I mean by that is, say you’re one of the very few (so far in terms of total population) to get tested and it comes back negative. Who’s to say you don’t come into contact with it a day or so – or weeks – later, whatever – and contract the virus then? How many times does one get tested? Most places can’t even deal with the potential volume of first-time testing. Then there’s the unknown % of the asymptomatic among the untested to this point, like that Coyotes staff member and, probably, the Bruins player, unknowingly spreading it wherever they go.

    NOTHING is going to make it safe until there’s a foolproof vaccine – and now we hear that that may never happen. So that begs the question: I order to rescue failing economies are pro sports, along with governments – federal, state, provincial, municipal – throw caution to the wind and live with the consequences? Which, world-wide, seems to have settled into a 7% death rate of those infected.

    I realize this comes across like crêpe-hanging on my part, but it’s an issue that needs to be taken into account as we sit around and exchange views on a sport that will, in all likelihood, never be the same again … UNLESS they, and the others including governments adopt the attitude “damn the torpedoes … full speed ahead.” And then one has to wonder how the general population will react to that once the potential ramifications of “going back to normal” without a safety net start to sink in?

    • correction: ” … In order to rescue failing economies are pro sports, along with governments – federal, state, provincial, municipal – prepared to throw caution …”

      • It is what it is, George. I have serious doubts the league can pull this off. For professional reasons, I hope they can do it because it affects how I make a living. However, I don’t want to see that happen at the expense of the players’ health and safety.

        Training camps next month could be the make or break. Ultimately, the players hold the upper hand here. If enough of them don’t believe this can be done in a safe manner, they’ll vote to reject it.

        For now, both sides appear intent on a cautious approach toward reopening.

      • George. The restrictions of the past few months were about reducing a quick spread… hence the flatten the curve. It was never meant to eliminate the curve. If a vaccine can’t be guaranteed… and it can’t, you have to start somewhere. It doesn’t have to be full steam ahead though. Measures can still be in place to keep the curve flatter thus allowing for production of more medicine, supplies, and a reduction of risk of over crowding medical facilities. This keeps fatalities down. Testing can help but your right it only can go so far. But if the players test repeatedly throughout this they are likely to get identified prior to significant spread. Better off than the rest of us really.

      • Chrisms, better off that way for sure!

        If a vaccine is never developed, I suppose the next best thing is to spend more resources on coming up with ways to at least deal with the worst symptoms.

        In that event, will the over-powering need to get some form of normal economy going cause governments – unofficially of course unless they want to commit political suicide – to live with the ongoing consequences, and how long, once the deaths continue at the same pace unabated, will Joe Public go along before they start screaming for a sacrificial lamb to take the blame? That, too, is inevitable.

        Restaurants, for example, simply could not function under a reduced clientele format – most barely make ends meet now with 100% capacity. Will work at home become even more pronounced with new technologies introduced. Are downtown cores finished? What will schools/universities and long-term care facilities look like in those circumstances? The military? Pro and university sports?

        Mind-boggling stuff.

      • Tru dat George

      • It’s somewhat ironic that this all began in China. Brings to mind an ancient curse – “may you live in interesting times” – attributed to the Chinese by Sir Austen Chamberlain back around 1936, although no one has ever actually been able to pin-point it as originating in China. Even so, if the damned shoe fits … 🙂

      • I love 🥠 too!

    • Lyle, there ain’t no safety net without government revenue, and there ain’t no government revenue without a functioning economy!

  3. The English Premier League begins play this Wednesday; The Bundesliga (Germany) has been playing fora while.
    The PGA Tour re-started this week.
    Horse racing has resumed as has NASCAR.
    There will be news from these sports that will affect the NHL plan.
    We should have a better idea of the risk soon.

  4. So Lori Lightweight of Chicago feels that her city is safe because of reduced Chinese flu numbers. Of course, she has police body guards where ever she goes — to protect her from the flu, no doubt.