NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2020

by | Jun 15, 2020 | News, NHL | 19 comments

Players mull over the idea of performing in arenas without fans, Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane put aside their differences to help form Hockey Diversity Alliance, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE CANADIAN PRESS (via CTV News): Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and teammate Darnell Nurse, Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler are among several NHL players pondering playing in arenas without fans under the league’s return-to-play plan later this summer.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (Photo via NHL Images).

NHL players are accustomed to playing in front of thousands of noisy fans, drawing energy and intensity from the crowds. That won’t be the case during the 24-team playoff tournament, as fans won’t be allowed into the two hub arenas due to COVID-19 concerns.

Nurse believes it will be a test for the players to create their own intensity. Tavares acknowledged it’ll be unlike what the players are used to, but pointed out the game between the boards remains the same.

Wheeler suggests players will have to push aside the distraction of silence and remember millions of fans will be watching them on television. McDavid, meanwhile, acknowledged it won’t be the same. “It’ll suck, but we gotta do what we gotta do.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lack of fan noise will be a little disconcerting at first, but I expect the players will quickly adjust. As Nurse pointed out, the players will have to find other ways to create their own environment and draw sufficient motivation.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane have a well-documented rivalry. However, the two put their differences aside to become part of the newly-formed Hockey Diversity Alliance, which seeks to eradicate racism from hockey.

I spoke to Evander and told him I want to jump in on this powerful message,” Reaves told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ed Graney. “We have to put aside our differences on the ice and come together for a much bigger cause.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said he and his staff intend to use their time leading up to the tournament in preparation to face the Edmonton Oilers, their qualifying-round opponent. They intend to work on improving their systems while ramping up their focus on the Oilers as the tournament draws near.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL coaches will have plenty of time to prepare. Late July is the earliest the tournament could begin, though early August seems the more likely time.

NJ.COM: Executives from the seven non-playoff clubs are hoping the NHL will allow them to spend some on-ice time evaluating their players during their long off-season. The New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks failed to qualify for the post-season tournament.

Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald said those teams are hoping to get in some form of game action for their players.

Bring them in in any shape or form. It could be a mini-camp. It could be rookie camp. It could be a rookie tournament. Maybe the Eastern teams get together. Maybe there’s an appetite for all of us to somehow have some sort of mini-tournament. But there’s definitely going to be some push from us at least to be able to have the ability to work with our players in a smaller window, whatever that may look like. We all believe it’s not fair that we go nine months without being able to have contact with our players.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting those teams together could be difficult as they’d all have to follow the same protocols as those participating in the playoff tournament. Perhaps mini-camps or rookie camps would be acceptable, though those clubs might have to pick up the costs of travel, accommodation, and COVID-19 testing.

HOKEJ.CZ: reports Dallas Stars forward Martin Hanzal is considering retirement after spending the past several seasons plagued by back injuries. He’s in the final year of his contract and spent the entire 2019-20 season on long-term injury reserve. With his contract still technically on the Stars’ books, he’ll likely wait until this season is over before making it official.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Craig Morgan reports Hanzal told him two months ago retirement was likely, but he’d wait until his contract expired to make an official decision. Morgan writes Hanzal’s back problems flare up whenever he plays hockey.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oiler Nail Yakupov, the first-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is bouncing around the KHL with the same frequency as he did during his final NHL seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I attributed Yakupov’s NHL woes to the revolving door of coaches during his four seasons with the Oilers. However, it appears his problems are much deeper than that. He has the dubious honor of being among the biggest draft busts in NHL history.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens mascot Youppi! is the first character from a Canadian-based sports team to be inducted into The Mascot Hall of Fame. He’s also the first two-sport mascot to be inducted, having joined the Canadiens in 2005 after serving with the Montreal Expos from 1979 until the MLB club was relocated in 2004. Youppi! is also the only mascot to be ejected from an MLB game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations, Youppi! One of my favorite mascots of all time.


  1. Youppi and The Dancer were mainstays in the early days at Jarry Park from 1969 to 1976. Often wondered what became of The Dancer


    Our regular seats were halfway down the 1st base line roughly 10 rows up from the railing

    The game in which Youppi got tossed was at Olympic Stadium in 1989 – good old Tommy Lasorda – the man who taught me the importance of ERA over wins when he was a relief pitcher with the Montreal Royals (farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers), around 1952 when Ottawa was the Triple AAA team for the Philadelphia Athletics

      • Youppi never appeared at Jarry Park. He debuted with the Expos in 1979 – at the Olympic Stadium.

      • Yeah, you’re absolutely right Howard – time and memory playing tricks on me – but The Dancer was there.

  2. As for why we’re really here, I never took into consideration of no fan noise for the players. I didn’t even think it matter thinking that they would block out noise just because their focus is on the game and too much happens too quickly to pay attention to crowd sounds. I think it’s more like what JT said about the game between the boards will be the same, ie crowd noise or not won’t be noticed much once the puck drops but maybe some things will be weird, like walking into an empty 15000+ seat arena.

  3. Having watched the PGA tour in Texas this week, I can see how things will be dramatically different if or when the NHL returns.
    One pro made a hole in one and didn’t realize it until he was approaching the green – he had his putter in hand when someone told him he didn’t need it.
    Daniel Berger, the tournament winner, made a huge putt on 18 to get into a playoff and the silence was deafening. Just really different without the galleries but it was exciting anyway with so many players in contention down the stretch.

    I really hope TV coverage of the NHL playoffs doesn’t include canned noise from phantom fans. The game can carry the day – that’s all we need.

    • You mean, like the sitcom laugh tracks BCLeafFan? LOL. One thing is for sure, with no crowd noise and TV picking up everything, the benches are going to have to keep the profanity down – should be interesting … beep … beep … beep ….

      Remember that experiment when U.S. TV thought it would be a good idea to pick up and broadcast the sounds from the ice – Bobby Clarke in the NHL – Red Army series – the play-by-play guy sees the camera focus on Clarke on the bench and says “and there’s Bobby Clarke, he always has something to say that will urge his team on!” – and with perfect timing Clarke roars at referee Bruce Hood “Why don’t you go *^43 yourself Hood you *^&^ing queer!”

      At which point an aghast play-by-play guy says “and he’s colorful too.” That experiment ended soon after.

  4. The First few games will be Manna for Sports fans. Guys yelling on the ice, refs swearing, trash-talking from the bench…this will build the fan-base.
    But it will get old.
    Can the NHL sell fan Avatars? Speakers that allow fans to cheer and have it heard in the venue?

  5. I’ve deleted several comments because they strayed far off-topic today.

    • While I’m all for keeping it on topic. The comment that started the entire conversation still remains?

    • All I wanted to do was talk about boxer briefs vs banana hammocks! Geez Lyle.

      • ^^^^^ this should probably go as well.

      • Everyone knows the knitted slingshot brief is the way to go, Chrisms…;)

      • If I google that am I gonna regret it?

      • After you wrote that I had too.
        AKA Cocksox.

  6. Lyle, you officiating the playoffs too?
    Hang in there.

    • Just waiting for the call from the league…;)

      Seriously, here’s hoping hockey can return to action without jeopardizing the health and safety of all involved.

  7. REAL pleased to see Reaves sign for two more years with Vegas today (if it can’t be with the Blues). He has ended up with a real nice career—much more than just an enforcer. Good teammate and good in community, and now helping with hockey diversity issues.

  8. If thousands of trans can march with panties on for masks in Brooklyn I should be able to go to an arena and watch a hockey game. 90 percent of Covid positive people have zero or very little symptoms my friends Dad who is 92 broke his hip while recovering in hospital caught Covid in hospital of all places he never had any symptoms and is now moved home. Let the games begin be careful and if your unsure or sick stay home but don’t stop the willing and able.