NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 1, 2020
Some players express reluctance about return-to-play plan, hub cities could be in Canada, negotiations continue toward new CBA, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS
SPORTSNET: Mike Johnston reports Frederik Andersen admitted he’s not fully confident yet about the resumption of the NHL season. The Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender said he and his fellow players haven’t received enough information on the return-to-play plan as the league and the NHL Players’ Association continue to hash things out. Andersen said he still wants to play and remains hopeful of seeing something the players can vote on soon.
Meanwhile, Johnston’s colleague Eric Engels reported five anonymous players voiced their unhappiness and frustration with being kept in the dark about the return-to-play negotiations.
One of them estimated up to 75 percent of the NHLPA membership didn’t want to play this summer, citing health and injury concerns. Another considered the PA calls with players a joke, claiming they’re only focused on the financial side. Despite those issues, one of them believes the players will likely vote to approve whatever is presented to them, suggesting the playoff bonus money will be higher than ever if they play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen isn’t the only player to go on the record claiming they still don’t know the details of the return-to-play plan. Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price recently indicated he wasn’t prepared to vote for the deal until more details had been sorted out, though he returned to Montreal earlier this week to participate in Phase 2 practice sessions. Several others also said the same.
The Athletic also recently published a report citing several anonymous players and agents expressing unease over playing in a hub city environment, with one agent suggesting up to 40 percent of the players were on the fence. The PA leadership could have a difficult job selling the merits of the plan to a membership expressing growing concern over the details.
Nevertheless, the players still control the fate of this season. If they vote for it despite their concerns they’ll have to accept the consequences.
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports it appears the NHL won’t reveal the two hub cities for the playoff tournament until the return-to-play plan and the CBA extension are agreed to pending player approval. He also thinks there’s a good chance both hubs could be in Edmonton and Toronto as Las Vegas seems to be falling out of the running. Chicago is also considered in the mix while Los Angeles is now out.
McKenzie also expected critical negotiations between the league and the PA to continue through last night. If all goes well, a vote by the players could take place by the end of this week.
**UPDATE** McKenzie reports the hub cities will be Edmonton and Toronto barring any last-minute complications.
ESCROW A STICKING POINT IN CBA TALKS
TSN/NEW YORK POST/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Frank Seravalli, Larry Brooks, and Ken Campbell report the players could end up paying back their share of lost revenue to the owners for many years if a flat salary cap and a cap on escrow payments over the next two or three seasons becomes part of the CBA extension.
Seravalli points out the players could end up owing $325 million entering 2020-21 because of this season’s reduced revenue. If next season’s revenue is half of the projected $5 billion the league was anticipating for this season, an additional $600-$700 billion could be added to what the players already owe. It would take the following years under a flat cap (assuming revenue returns to normal) for the players to pay that back through escrow sometime during 2023-24.
Unrestricted and restricted free agents during that period could feel the effects, especially those coming off entry-level contracts. Brooks believes it will strangle contending clubs that historically spend toward the cap, forcing contract buyouts (though not amnesty buyouts as sources told Brooks), more arbitration hearings, and flooding the free-agent market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always with the NHL CBA, the devil is in the details and we don’t know what those are yet. Nevertheless, the escrow issue could prove the determining factor in the players’ vote on the return-to-play plan.
If a CBA extension creates those aforementioned issues, it would affect how teams have built and maintained their rosters, resulting in a considerable amount of player movement. It could also set the table for another lengthy labor war down the road when the extension expires in 2026.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports participation in the Winter Olympics is part of the proposed CBA extension. The players would participate in at least the 2022 Beijing Games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be a major concession from the league. If I were a player, however, I’d be suspicious about what I might have to give up in return.
**UPDATE*** TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports a long night of negotiations appears to have resulted in agreements on most issues regarding return-to-play and CBA extension. A couple of issues could be finalized today. However, nothing is official until both sides ratify a tentative agreement
IN OTHER NEWS…
TSN: The players with signing bonuses in their contracts paid out on July 1 are expected to receive them as planned, though some might be pushed to next week. That’s an expenditure of over $300 million.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes winger Phil Kessel admitted he’d been nursing injuries for most of this season. That could account for his decline in production, though he didn’t use that as an excuse. Kessel added he’s looking forward to a bounce-back performance.
THE SCORE: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane believes the NHL doesn’t do enough to market its minority players.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: The Carolina Hurricanes have parted ways with Rick Dudley, who was their VP of hockey operations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s sparked speculation he could be headed to the Buffalo Sabres, who gutted their front-office staff last month.
“Meanwhile, Johnston’s colleague Eric Engels reported five anonymous players voiced their unhappiness and frustration with being kept in the dark about the return-to-play negotiations. One of them estimated up to 75 percent of the NHLPA membership didn’t want to play this summer, citing health and injury concerns.”
That, if accurate, is interesting when compared to general concerns about what could possibly come. In a straw poll this morning in the Toronto Sun, in response to the question “Are you worried that Canada will be hit by an explosive second wave of Covid-19? (likely prompted by what’s happening in some parts of the U .S.), as of 8:25 am some 9,740 had responded with 63.3% (saying “yes” (unbelievable that 36.7% say “no” – these are the types that ignore protocols and happily go about spreading the damned virus) .
For me I take poll questions literally …..
“ Are you worried that Canada will be hit by an explosive second wave of Covid-19?”
I’m a very conscious social distancing mask wearing Ontarian but would have answered “NO” to that question because it reads to me whether I believe an “explosive” second wave is actually coming to Canada. I don’t believe that is a high probability here as I think we’ve done a pretty fair job. A second wave coming…. yep; almost for sure. An explosive second wave; to me ; I’m not yet convinced.
However if the question had been worded :
“ IF Canada is hit by an explosive second wave of Covid-19; will you be worried”
To me that’s a resounding yes
I’m paranoid enough of this friggin virus that I don’t even go into my elderly mother’s home for fear that I could be an asymptomatic carrier and infect her… I fear this friggin’ thing ; but would have answered NO to the question as posted
Symantec Literal Pengy
But Pengy, how many of those who answered “no” did so for the reason you state? You have way more faith in the lack of boneheads – whether in Ontario or anywhere else – than I do.
Remember when news of the virus first hit and our esteemed chief medical officer – and just about every politician – offered the sage opinion that “for Canadians the risk is very low.” 105,000 cases later ….
All it takes is a few irresponsible twits – especially over the summer months when there is more a tendency to gather in larger groups – and, as Jackie Gleason used to say … aaaaannnd away we go …”
My answer was “yes” because there are simply too many floating about who don’t give a crap.
Pengy, I agree with your take, I don’t think Canada will have an explosive second wave.
Will we see more cases; absolutely until there is some kind of cure or vaccine, there is going to be a threat of Covid-19.
I also believe we react differently depending on where we live.
Winnipeg with 17 active cases in Manitoba, still has soften guidelines but i would guess less then 25% of the people where mask, for the most part people practice self distancing.
New habits are forming, whenever i go into a store the first thing I’m looking for is the hand sanitizer and have noticed most are doing the same.
Yesterday in home depot, where they once had an employee wiping down the cart for you, they now leave the supplies there for you to wipe down your own cart. The hand sanitizer is right next to them supplies.
We are now becoming conditioned to our new surrounding and are new things without thought more out of habit now. I imagine the same is true for the face mask; personally haven’t gone down that road but do have some in case i decide to go to Costco, where you must wear them.
Keeping the US border close is helpful; but what happens when its reopen?
You are way more optimistic than I Caper – especially when I see articles like this
Forgive me if I don’t take the Pollyanna approach, but with those potentials – and no vaccine on the horizon for the foreseeable future – any attempt to “open things up” – especially international travel and the U.S.-Canada border – in the hope of re-generating the economy WILL lead to an “explosion” down the line. The virus has shown NO signs of going away on its own.
George O, I don’t read anything from CNN or Fox both are to the extreme and both have their own agenda; which is to influence the election.
Also have to agree with Pengy here. As of June 28 there were just over 2,700 active cases in Canada outside of Quebec. The only way I’m really worried about an “Explosive” second wave is if the border with the U.S. is reopened. It is frightening to see a nation of people turn a pandemic into a Political matter.
Even with the reduced cases, most of Canada has been excellent at enforcing strict rules during re-opening including mandatory mask use in certain areas and extreme sanitary procedures in restaurants (sinking the environment a bit with all the disposable plastic use, but lets not expect people to focus on more than one catastrophe at a time). I am currently in a place that has not yet had a single case, and the restaurants have only just re-opened; and you are not allowed to socialize with anyone you didn’t come in with.
As to the seeming decision by the NHL to use Edmonton and Toronto as potential host cities; hopefully this will help the players feel a little safer. I can only hope that not a single one is allowed in Canada until they are properly tested and cleared.
Stay safe all!
“Evander Kane says..? This from a man who has played his way out of how many cities already? When Iginla speaks we all listen because THAT is a man/player who has earned his respect.
Why would so many players want to play. Look at how many Leafs are paid on July 1 each year. Tavares, Matthews, Marner, Nylander etc have all been paid for the season and are about to receive ANOTHER cheque for this season that won’t even start until next year. Why play right?
In fairness to them, this virus has rebounded and to play now is beyond absurd.
Prediction; Year gets cancelled outright in mid-playoffs after too many positive tests to any one team necessitates a forfeit.
Sorry for the sour notes to start the day. Happy Canada day to all of you. I miss Free Agent Day.
Happy Canada Day to all the Canucks here
George, your views are well know here regarding the virus, and you aren’t one of those old coots in the Muppets balcony.
It makes sense that the two hub cities are poised to be Canadian given the mess in the US but trainers, players and coaching staff included there will be more than 350 players in each hub city. We’re all aware of the mathematical permutations of one infected person infecting others and it will take one team to suffer an outbreak to blow the playoffs up. What farce that will be, with attendant ridicule of the NHL well deserved.
I get the financial incentive for trying to play and I get the ongoing publicity is important for the NHL’s profile but enough already. It is thus with mixed feelings I anticipate this whole house of cards will come crashing down.
Then we can get on with the draft and ufa signings and pray for everyone’s sake a virus is quickly found.
Yikes, I meant a vaccine!
Who cares what Evander Kane thinks? Should players with blonde hair be marketed more? How about players with blue eyes? How about players from Russia? How about players from Boston? Kane is always trying to make headlines by playing the “race” card while the team he’s currently playing for moves to the bottom of the league standings – and it doesn’t matter whether he’s playing for the Sharks or Sabres – his team has a habit of being at the bottom of the standings. Why is Kane’s comment even shown in this column?
Because it’s my site and I’ll decide what to post on it, Nasdaq40.
LOL. Thanks Lj. I’m not quite either Statler or Waldorf yet.
We’re all hoping a viable vaccine is found soon … but so far, all we have to go on is “hope” and when you hear credible scientists say that a coronavirus can take anywhere up to 10 years to perfect, coupled with those articles above regarding anti-bodies fading away after 8 weeks, and the possibility of a new swine flu virus coming on the scene in the middle of this mess, you can’t help but worry about the future in general.
I’m not as quick as some to shrug off those above reports as merely the personal agenda of two news outlets to exaggerate potential bad news for their own agenda. Nor were they the only outlets to file those reports.
IF a vaccine proves to be elusive are the government bodies prepared to throw caution to the wind and allow things to open up to anywhere close to what they were pre-virus – pro sports, college sports, minor leagues and with all the travel that entails, not to mention concert venues, restaurants, schools/universities, tourism – you name it. Can the economies subsist otherwise?
Just looking at sports in isolation in that event, somehow I can’t see all those I mentioned playing all their future games in empty arenas, parks, stadiums. And how long can TV revenue buoy them up if advertisers simply can’t pay for ad time because their own businesses are failing.
It isn’t a pretty picture but to not consider it as a distinct possibility is just shoving one’s head up one’s butt.