NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2020

by | Jun 30, 2020 | News, NHL | 21 comments

The latest return-to-play news plus updates on Carey Price, Mikko Rantanen, Nick Foligno, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The NHL announced 26 players out of over 250 tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 of the return-to-play plan began on June 8. Fifteen who took part in small-group training tested positive while an additional 11 tested positive outside the Phase 2 protocols. All have self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. Over 1, 450 tests have been implemented.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league didn’t indicate when those players contracted the coronavirus or the severity of their symptoms. Earlier reports indicated most were asymptomatic, with a small number having a low-grade fever. We also don’t know how many of those players have since recovered.

Those numbers will increase as more players report to their NHL cities ahead of Phase 3 (mandatory training camp) on July 10. Health and social distancing protocols will be stricter in Phase 3, though the league won’t be quarantining the players during that period.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports a decision on the two host cities for the 24-team playoff tournament could come today. While the state of Nevada is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, Las Vegas could still be chosen as a host because it could have the best “locked-down” or “protected” bubble of the remaining candidates.

McKenzie also reports the league and the NHLPA appear to be getting closer toward an agreement on the final two phases of the return-to-plan plan and a CBA extension. A vote could come this week. July 10 is the tentative start date for Phase 3 but it could be pushed back a little with no effect upon the start of Phase 4 on July 30.

In a lengthy Twitter post, McKenzie pondered some possible changes in the CBA extension. He wanted to know if it would be 3 or 4 years or 3 years with a mutual opt-in/opt-out in year 4. He also wondered if there would be limitations on salary variance and signing bonuses, or opt-outs of the playoff tournament for players with existing medical conditions (diabetes, asthma, etc) or penalty-free opt-outs for those uncomfortable with taking part.

McKenzie points out the two sides still haven’t reached an agreement regarding bonus money owed on July 1. He also notes they must work out an international hockey calendar, but the Winter Olympics no longer appear a consideration.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the bonus issue is part of the CBA extension, the two sides might need a separate agreement on that, perhaps a tentative on to push the bonuses to the end of October as they did with expiring contracts.

Until recently, it was believed the players were keen to return to the Olympics. If that’s no longer the case it’s probably because the changes in the NHL calendar over the next couple of years and ongoing concerns over the coronavirus could make participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games almost impossible.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sean Shapiro reports the availability and location of hotels near American Airlines Arena played a major role in Dallas being ruled out as a potential hub city.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price returned to Montreal for the first time since the schedule was paused in mid-March.

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen skated with his teammates in Phase 2 training. Rantanen had been sidelined by an injured shoulder suffered in late February

Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer have recovered from their previous injuries. Sidelined defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, and Sami Vatanen could be ready to participate in the Phase 3 training camp.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said he and his teammates aren’t interested in the possibility of his club having a shot at winning the first-overall pick in the 2020 draft. “We play to win the Stanley Cup regardless,” he told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio. He added the No. 1 pick is management’s concern.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a silly theory floated by some fans suggesting some teams in the qualifying round could tank to become eligible for the second phase of the draft lottery to determine the winner of the No. 1 pick. They’re not going to endure Phase 3 training camp followed by a locked-down Phase 4 tournament isolated from family and friends away from their home cities while undergoing constant COVID-19 testing just to have a 12.5 percent chance at winning the rights to Alexis Lafreniere. Their motivation is winning the Stanley Cup and helping the league recoup some of their $1.1 billion in losses from the COVID-19 shutdown. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings canceled their prospect tournament in September and will conduct training camp for 2020-21 at Little Caesars Arena due to COVID-19.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The sports-marketing agency Wasserman expanded its pool of European hockey talent by acquiring Acme World Sports. Acme’s clients include Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen, Dallas’ Esa Lindell, and Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen.

VANCOUVER SUN/TAMPA BAY TIMES: Vancouver Province sportswriter Tony Gallagher has been honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for journalism excellence. Tampa Bay Lightning play-by-play man Rick Peckham received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions by a broadcaster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallagher and Peckham.


  1. 26 out of around 250 tested – or about 10% – wonder how that matches up with overall % of positive cases of those tested – can’t find that figure for any area anywhere

    • George, an article today at CBC.ca said that Canada currently has one positive result per 110 people tested; in the States, it’s one per 17 – incredible.

      • Wow! And Vegas – in one of the “hot spots” – is going to be a hub location – genius

      • Hi BC Leafs fan

        As a Canadian I’d like those numbers but they are incorrect

        Per CDC right now… US has run 33.6 M tests with 3.19 M positive…. every 10.5 tests are positive…. 9.5 % of tests come back positive

        Per Canada site…. Canada.ca….. 2.7 M tests….. around 100 K positive….. every 27th test …. about 3.7 % of tests come back positive

        Our numbers are better but not as dramatic as CBC had

      • The CBC? Wrong??? For $1.2 billion annually??? These are, indeed, the final days!

  2. And Lyle, that theory about tanking to get a chance at # 1 isn’t being “silly” – you’re way too diplomatic and polite – hell, to limit it to “it’s asinine” would be generous

  3. Lyle the theory of a player wanting to tank is silly; however, the theory of a GM wanting to tank isn’t.

    You can’t tell me MB wouldn’t love the idea of Alexis Lafreniere lacing them up for the Habs.

    The GM knows if his team has a realistic chance of Winning the Cup.

    The odds of landing the top pick is 12.5 that’s better odds then the 3rd worst team (San Jose) had at 11.5%

    The system is flawed.

    • So what do you think a GM like that will do? Tell his team to tank the qualifying round? That’s not going to happen.

      Could a GM attempt to weaken his club heading into a season to improve his draft odds? I wouldn’t put it past some of them.

      But in this case, there’s nothing a GM can do about his roster. He cannot weaken it by trading away, demoting, or transferring players because there’s nowhere to send them. He can’t buy them out and he’d have to provide legit grounds to terminate a contract.

      There’s no chance you’ll see a GM try to weaken his club in this tournament or order his players not to play well just to get a 12.5 percent shot at Lafeniere. It ain’t happening…

      • Lyle I don’t think in my post i said any of that. Try reading it again.

      • I’m just curious why you bothered bringing up a GM wanting to tank when it doesn’t apply in this situation. My apologies if I misunderstood you.

      • Especially since Lafreniere cannot be confused with Lemieux, Lafleur, Crosby, Matthews or McDavid. He’s a solid prospect in a deep draft where any one of the Top 10 could – and again I stress could – develop into THE gem of the draft.

    • Having watched the Habs this season I’m confident that they can lose to the Pens without having to tank.

      • Hi Howard

        Hope your right; however if Price can play at his best and if Sully stupidly plays JJ 15 minutes a game… don’t be surprised

        No JJ ; Price average…. Pens in 4

      • Hi Lyle, I’m a bit snarly today.

        Brought it up as most GM in the play in round would rather the 1 in 8 shot at getting Lafreniere.

        I used Montreal as an example because they would be ecstatic to get the French Kid and in a short series i wouldn’t never count out Carey Price; but, I also don’t think they could win the Cup.

        It also stay with my earlier post of saying Montreal will beat Pittsburgh and Pitts will win the lottery draft.

        As far as the odds being that the team is going to finish in a worst position; I would easily say yes to that, knowing that i potentially have a 1 in 8 chance of landing the first overall pick; something that shouldn’t be available to them.

        Some teams GM, Toronto and Pitts would rather win as they have a legitimate chance at the cup.

        Summary MB will be happy his team won but elated if they lost. Win no chance at the 1st overall, loss a 12.5% chance.

        Why would he not want that chance?

      • No worries, Caper, I’ve had those days myself. I also agree the GMs of the marginal clubs in the qualifying rounds might prefer a shot at the first-overall than a quixotic run for the Cup. However, I doubt Ken Holland or Jim Rutherford or Kyle Dubas or Kevin Cheveldayoff feel that way.

    • Yes, Caper, the system is flawed. You refer to the Habs, who of course would be ecstatic to get Lafrenier.

      But the Habs also have way better odds of drafting outside the # 8 position that they had at the end of the season. They can (will) lose to Pittsburg and could end up drafting # 16. Chicago and Arizona at 9 and 10 could also get screwed by this farce of a system, and as others have pointed out Toronto could end up with Lafrenier.

      So this draft lottery will benefit only the team that gets the # 1 pick and every other team is worse off. That is the most likely thought GMs are chewing on.

  4. Read a Tweet from Slava Malamud “Meanwhile, Russian hockey is about to institute a new rule, which many are calling “sports serfdom”. Until a certain age, a player belongs to his KHL team, even when the contract expires, and cannot sign with an NHL team, unless he buys his own freedom.
    Russia be Russiaing.” end of tweet

    As said in the tweet about to, meaning it hasn’t happen yet and when the effective date is.

    If it happen i don’t see an NHL team drafting Russian players until the 6th or 7th round or at all.

    • If that happens what I see is someone taking a pot-shot at Vlad.

      • See him skate? Easy stationary target.

      • From the videos I’ve watched, he just skates around everyone and scores almost at will. The only thing that I’ve seen that can slow him down is a red carpet.

        Wonder how the worker who rolled that out is fairing these days?