NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2020

by | Jun 16, 2020 | News, NHL | 33 comments

Sabres fire GM Jason Botterill, league commissioner Gary Bettman talks about the return-to-play plan, plus the latest on Patrick Kane, David Pastrnak, Braden Holtby, Josh Anderson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


The Buffalo Sabres have relieved Jason Botterill of his duties as general manager. They’ve named Senior VP of Business Administration Kevyn Adams as Botterill’s replacement. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news broke earlier this morning. I hope to have more about this in tomorrow’s update. It was only three weeks ago that Botterill received the backing of Sabres ownership for another season. It’ll be interesting to find out what brought about this sudden change of heart, as well as what it could mean for the coaching and scouting staffs.


ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman believes the league’s return-to-play plan will maintain the integrity of the playoffs without being too gimmicky.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

“I think everybody can feel good, based on the combination of the play-in round and the way we’re going to run the playoffs, that this will be a full competition which will bring out the best in our teams and our players,” said Bettman.

The NHL intends to return later this summer with a 24-team tournament involving a round-robin for the top eight teams and a qualifying round for the other 16.

Bettman indicated the league has worked closely with the NHL Players’ Association since games were paused in mid-March. The two sides continue to negotiate key details, including playing under a quarantine bubble and the location of the two host cities for the tournament.

The commissioner also said the league intends to test every player and member of each team’s 50-person traveling party daily for COVID-19. A player testing positive will be isolated and contact tracing will monitor everyone in close proximity of that player. Bettman said the league has been told an isolated case or two won’t affect their plans to go forward.

Bettman also said the league is in discussions with the Canadian government regarding easing restrictions for the country’s 14-day quarantine period for visitors.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Bettman admitted 56 percent of the league’s players remain outside of their respective NHL cities, with 17 percent of them still in Europe. So we’ve got a lot of people to move around and we have to get people back from outside of North America.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The round-robin and qualifying rounds are a bit gimmicky, but necessary given this unusual situation. Once the playoffs begin, it’s the usual four-round, best-of-seven tournament.

The discussions with the Canadian government will affect the location of one of the two host cities. It’s believed the league wants one in Canada, but that won’t be possible if the government maintains its strict border protocols. That will also affect training camps for the six Canadian teams (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal) participating in the tournament. There’s already talk that some of them could hold training camps in the United States.

Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan involves training camps opening on July 10. The league has a limited time to get their players back to their respective NHL cities.

SPORTSNET: Hockey analyst and former NHLer Kevin Bieksa said several players he’s spoken to remain skeptical of the return-to-play plan. He said they don’t have their equipment and still have skated.

Bieksa added there remains several issues to be sorted out. Not only with the safety measures and protocol and everything but I don’t even know if it’s been discussed with the (NHLPA) and the league how they’re going to divide HRR (hockey-related revenue).”

Some critics have dismissed the proposed tournament as the NHL putting the players at risk solely for the sake of profit. What the league is doing is attempting to recoup roughly half of its $1.1 billion in lost revenue from pausing the schedule. This depends, however, on the willing participation of the players.

With the salary cap tied to hockey-related revenue, the majority of players (based on the 29-2 vote by NHLPA player reps approving the return-to-play plan) are agreeable to this tournament. They aren’t being forced into this. If a majority aren’t confident their health and safety can be assured, they have the power to shut this down at any time.

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: cites a report in Sports Business Journal claiming the NHL is halting all negotiations for its next television contract until the end of 2020.


THE SCORE: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane doesn’t believe whoever wins the 2020 Stanley Cup should have an asterisk beside their name.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are no asterisks beside the NHL teams that won the Stanley Cup during the Second World War when some of the league’s best players were serving overseas. There’s no asterisk beside the 1994-95 New Jersey Devils or 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks for winning the Cup during lockout-shortened seasons. There shouldn’t be, and won’t be, an asterisk beside the potential 2020 Cup champion.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak is more upset about missing the 100-point plateau than the 50-goal mark. With 48 goals and 95 points in 70 games, Pastrnak was on pace for his first 50-goal, 100-point campaign when the schedule was paused.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said the starting goaltender role is Braden Holtby’s to lose in the playoff tournament. “Braden Holtby’s body of work in playoff games speaks for itself and how he definitely helped our team to win our first-ever Stanley Cup and was a huge, huge part of that,” Reirden said.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson will remain sidelined by shoulder surgery until after September.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed Ryan Reaves to a two-year, $3.5 million contract extension. The 33-year-old winger is completing a two-year, $5.5-million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers suggest Reaves’ accepting less money to re-sign with the Golden Knights could be a harbinger of what many of this year’s unrestricted free agents could face when the season is over. However, he likely would’ve had to accept a similar deal from the Golden Knights even without the possibility of a flat salary cap for next season. Before re-signing Reaves, the Golden Knights had over $73 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak signed a three-year contract with Czech club HC Vitkovice. He’s still under contract with the Stars for this season but told a Czech paper he might not return if the NHL stages its playoff tournament. Stars general manager Jim Nill said the team can’t make a player return against their wishes. If anyone wants to stay home, that is their decision. His contract expires at the end of this season, so no issues there.”

SPORTSNET: The American Hockey League has formed a return-to-play task force to prepare for its 2020-21 season.


  1. One of the great things about hockey is the grind teams go through. It’s almost a survival test sometimes. It’s after winning that info comes out how players a and b were playing with a broken bone or some other injury. Imagine a player testing positive and he’s done. Can’t play no matter if his symptoms are mild. And with contact tracing, there can be players sidelined that aren’t even testing positive. I believe league will do all they can to create a contact free tournament, but the risk is always there. Will be interesting to see.

  2. Pasta is a breath of fresh air a young athlete who is team oriented and is always smiling and happy. Many young players could learn a thing or two from this young stud.

    • I agree , it’s nice to see players enjoying life.
      I always admired Phil Kessel’s attitude. He had health issues and is enjoying life like he should. These fella’s have life by the tail an should enjoy it.
      Nylander got condemned for laughing with the Zamboni driver the day after the Leafs lost to him. Why would he be mad at him.
      Anyhow, Pasternak definitely is refreshing. You are absolutely right

      • Many many players are like that away from the rink the media just doesn’t show it, these kids are living their dream

  3. report in Sports Business Journal claiming the NHL is halting all negotiations for its next television contract until the end of 2020.

    If True it means NHL has no intent in starting next season until after Jan 1, 2021. It also means advertisers are passing on agreeing on “big” money for advertising in the future. Guessing they want to see just how bad the economy gets and what companies disappear forever.

    This Mickey Mouse ending of the season and playoffs is nothing more than trying to get one last paycheck before they put sports into storage

    • It’s no secret the NHL intends to start next season on Jan. 1, 2021. There are two reasons:

      1. The proposed playoff tournament would be completed by early-October, necessitating a two-month off-season and a one-month training-camp and pre-season before starting up again.

      2. The league is hoping fans will be allowed to attend games again by January. Better to start up with fans in attendance than in the fall when there’s concern over a potential second COVID wave that could keep fans away.

      • Lyle, the only asterisk that should appear when this is all said and done, is if one of the 8 teams eliminated during the round-robin then goes on to win the lottery and gets the first pick.

        Sure, the odds are small, but considering the fact they had the chance to go deep in the next round, and maybe even win the cup, should be enough. And with the uncertainty as to which teams perform best in the unprecedented situation, a top team like Boston or Tampa could get knocked off early and then go on to win the lottery. Stranger things have happened.

        That would make a mockery about the principle of the draft being designed to help strengthen the weakest teams in the league.

        If that happens there definitely should be an asterisk.

        Just curious as to your views on that.

      • I agree it wouldn’t be a good look if the Oilers or Penguins were bounced from the first round and won the draft lottery. That would be a farce. However, as you noted, the odds of that are slim. We’ll likely know by June 26 if there’s that possibility, as the league will hold a second draw following the qualifying round if one of the placeholder clubs ends up with one of the top-three selections.

      • George I don’t think tb or bos can win the lottery? Only the losing teams in the “ in play” round have a chance?

      • They will have a chance IF they’re among the 8 teams bounced in the round-robin. Like the odds of winning the 1st, that’s a slim possibility – but as I say, stranger things have happened.

      • George bos,tb,philly,stl,avs,vegas,stars and Washington are in the playoffs already they have no chance at getting the lottery, the only teams that have a chance are the 7 teams already done and the 8 teams that lose the “ play in “ round

      • Yeah, you’re right on there Bigbadbruins. A friend in Nova Scotia put me right on the convoluted process when he wrote “Only the play-in teams have a chance to enter the lottery. I’m quite certain of that. The Bruins and other round-robin teams are playing for top four positioning only. No top four teams are eliminated and, hence, none are eligible for
        the lottery draw. It pisses me off that the Maple Leafs may be eligible, because of a protected draft pick scenario of some kind. The round-robin play was created, essentially, to give the teams game experience, so that they wouldn’t be disadvantaged when moving into play against play-in series winners. It pisses me off even more that the Bruins could lose home ice, last change advantage, as a result of the stupid round robin! Essentially, a great season has gone down the drain!”

        As you can see he’s a devoted Bruins fan 🙂

    • Is that what it measn? My wife works in media planning in Toronto and every single one of her clients, regional clients or national clients, is asking when they can buy in NHL. Live sports drives the advertising industry now because it’s one of the only reamining appointment viewing opportunities, and is an uncontroversial place to advertise. There is crazy pent up demand for all sports broadcasts from advertisers, of course NHL is only a big player with national advertisers in Canada, but it isn’t mickey mouse money by any means.

  4. TB and Dallas should probably have asterisks by their names on the cup.
    Calgary and Buffalo got screwed.
    How’s that for picking at old wounds?

    • Well thats what Gary’s do. Let the team who should win win. Same Vancouver, their names should be on the cup, but Boston brought their own refs on game nr 7

      • Funny one yup!
        I think the reffing changed after game 2 in the B’s VCR series actually.
        That’s what happens when you dive, bite guys and then whine to the refs the whole time.
        Go figure.

      • Lol yup your nuts reason Boston won was TIM Thomas stopped 238 of the girls 246 shots in the final and Roberto couldn’t stop a beach ball in 2/3 rds of the games blaming the Refs is very weak.

      • True that Obe

  5. Lyle have to disagree with you. Absolutely there should be an * beside the Stanley Cup winner.

    No issue around the shorten season; but the format has changed, the number of teams competing has changed, the final standings has changed, not to mention the flow of the season, with injuries, players tired, by the time a game starts teams will be up to 5 months off; that is not the Stanley Cup for the 2019 – 2020 season; it’s just a tournament. Call it the Covid Cup.

    Any flow from the season is long gone, players haven’t skated out of shape etc it’s just not part of the season.

    Personally the * means nothing , but there is no cup winner for 2019-2020 season.

    • I completely agree.

    • Disagree on the asterisk.
      There is a pandemic, they are doing the best they can to make it as fair as they can and award a cup and recoup revenue. Hockey fans want to watch hockey as well. I know I will.
      This could never be perfect and they did the best they could.
      Different for sure, but so what? The team that wins still earns it IMO.
      My Bruins would have likely locked up home ice for the playoffs, that won’t happen, oh well.
      Like Chara said, he is grateful for getting the opportunity to compete for the cup. Another reason why he is such a good leader, focuses on the opportunity and the good instead of looking back and complaining about what is wrong with it.
      Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good and I hope they pull it off.

  6. Botterill just got canned

  7. The Truth is the 8 teams that lose the play in round would miss the playoffs . So why wouldn’t they deserve a chance to win the lottery and pick first overall. It’s still by percentage and if they had played the whole season and missed the playoffs they would have the opportunity.

  8. Kevyn Adams knows Laviolette well. He was an alternate captain under Laviolette for Carolina’s 2006 stanley cup. Is Laviolette the next Buffalo coach?

    • I’d say that lines up pretty well.
      I like Ralph though.

      • It appears that Laviolette’s coaching style has a short shelf life with veteran players but he is a coach that could turn a team around very quickly.
        Would have some interesting story lines, in 2006 Buffalo was good enough to win the cup and lost to Laviolette in the conference finals. Lindy Ruff was coach of the year and I think Laviolette was runner up.

    • If Krueger gets let go then the Sabres are still in free fall. The man is a smart coach.

  9. The 2020 playoffs is indeed “a bit gimmicky” and I think an asterix is warranted for a multitude of reasons. However, it used to take 16 wins to hoist the Cup. This season it might take 19.
    It’s no Joke

    • Last time the Leafs won – in the antediluvian age – it only took 4!

      • George, gentle reminder,
        4 plus 4 equals 8.

      • Sheesh. Having a real slow day here mind-wise. Yep 2 x 4 does = 8. The hockey version of the flood then came when the league expanded by 6 in 67-68 at which point it increased to … 12?

  10. Now that Botterill has been fired 3 weeks after receiving a vote of confidence does it mean that Bergevin will be fired in 3 weeks? Here’s hoping.

    • Geoff Molson is not Kim Pegula.