NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 2, 2020

by | Jul 2, 2020 | News, NHL | 15 comments

Edmonton and Toronto set to become hub cities, the latest return-to-play and CBA extension news, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


TSN: Bob McKenzie reported Edmonton and Toronto are set to become the two hub cities for the NHL’s return-to-play tournament barring any last-minute complications. Frank Seravalli reports the 12 Eastern Conference clubs would report to Toronto and the 12 Western Conference clubs would head to Edmonton.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports Phase 3 (training camp) would begin on July 13, with teams traveling to the hub cities as soon as July 25 for Phase 4.

The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly closing in on a return-to-play plan and CBA extension (Image via NHL.com).

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo reports Las Vegas fell out of the running as a hub city because of recent reports of a rise of positive COVID-19 tests among hotel and casino employees. That defeated the purpose of an NHL player/staff bubble.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ed Graney reports infection rates are still rising in Nevada, with that state seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in the United States.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas was considered a lock to be a hub city until earlier this week when logic finally prevailed. Canada is trending in the right direction as active COVID-19 cases steadily decline.

The league’s return-to-play plan, which includes daily testing, received approval from the Canadian government, the governments of Alberta and Ontario, and the municipal governments of Edmonton and Toronto.


TSN: Bob McKenzie also reported the NHL and NHL Players’ Association appear to be drawing closer to an agreement on a return-to-play plan and an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. However, he warns nothing is settled until both sides ratify a tentative deal. The NHLPA membership could vote on Friday or Saturday.

It’s McKenzie’s understanding that non-NHL players signed to NHL contracts in recent weeks (Montreal’s Alexander Romanov, Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, and the New York Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin) won’t be eligible to play in the 24-team playoff tournament.

Frank Seravalli reports the league and PA agreed to an interim extension on all expiring player contracts pending completion of the CBA extension and agreement on Phases 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan. He also indicates part of the agreement would allow any player to opt-out of return-to-play.

The deals would require two-thirds majority approval from the NHL Board of Governors, but a simple majority from the NHLPA membership. Seravalli indicates it would be a three- or four-year extension to the current CBA. The players are also expected to receive small lifestyle benefits in this deal, such as increases in medical subsidies in retirement and player health insurance, and increase rental/mortgage reimbursement following trade or reassignment.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the players’ pay would be delinked from league revenue for the next two years with a 20 percent escrow cap and a fixed salary cap of $81.5 million before eventually returning to a system based on the current model. The players’ would also defer 10 percent of their salaries for next season to a later date.

Johnston also reports there were negotiations on changing the rules on salary structure, with limits on signing bonuses and restrictions on salary variance from year to year. The league is also willing to participate in the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics, pending an agreement with the International Olympic Committee on insurance, travel, and other issues.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo speculates the IOC’s position on those issues may be softening if the league and the PA made that agreement on Olympic participation. He also cited a player agent saying his clients still don’t have a clear understanding of the economic impact of playing this season versus not playing. They also have concerns over the possible health risks associated with playing this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We could learn more details on both plans over the next two days. As McKenzie points out, nothing is set in stone yet. The players’ concerns are legitimate and could potentially derail this agreement if not sufficiently addressed. 

I’m curious to see what the major CBA changes could be once the deal is ratified.  No surprise the league wants to close the loophole on paying the bulk of a player’s salary in signing bonuses. I also expected they would attempt to narrow the salary variance, currently at 50 percent.

Olympic participation was considered among the main sticking points in CBA talks prior to the pandemic interrupting the regular season. That’s a significant concession from the league to the players, but I’m interested in what it will cost the players down the road. 

The poison pill, as always, could be escrow. As Seravalli recently noted, the players could end up paying back escrow shortfalls from the pandemic for years if league revenues fail to substantially rebound over the next two or three seasons.


VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Jake Virtanen is catching flak for failing to practice proper social distancing during a recent visit to a Vancouver nightclub. Several teammates took to Twitter condemning what they consider his reckless behavior, especially with the league set to implement the next phase of its’ return-to-play plan.

The Canucks say they’ve spoken with Virtanen, who hasn’t taken part in Phase 2 voluntary small-group training with the club. He will be tested before rejoining the team.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed an affiliate agreement with the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers.


  1. Yesterday. in an exchange with Pengy and Caper, I spoke about my lack of faith in the ability of the boneheads – among the general population – to make concerted efforts to help keep the lid on another spike in infections. That “who cares?” mentality was obviously on display in states like Florida, Texas, Colorado and Nevada where the spikes have gone through the roof.

    But before we become too smug here in the Great White North, just remember that the U.S. has almost 10 times our population with many many more densely populated cities to help pave the way for a more rapid spread.

    Our statistics x10 would see 1,040,000 infections with 86,750 deaths.

    Our own boneheads are apparently represented by B.C.-boy Jake Virtanen if those reports are accurate. And I see no reason to doubt their reliability.

    • P.S. when they test him for Covid-19 they should also check his IQ. In a related report, yesterday, here in Ottawa on Canada Day, an estimated 5,000 gathered at Mooney’s Bay to enjoy the beach before they were dispersed by authorities. One can only wonder how many were asymptomatic and had never been tested. We’ll find out son enough


    • George O doesn’t take long for one bonehead to help your argument.

      I will say once they get into their bubble and will be much tougher as team mates will hold them responsible.

      The NHL has a better shot of pulling this off in Toronto and Edmonton. Personally there were safer Canadian cities available then Toronto.

      With the weak Canadian dollar this is also in the NHL favor.

      Personally i hope it works, but lets not kid ourselves this has no resembles of the 2019 – 2020 regular season, this is to recoup up to $500,000,000 in loss revenue. Absolutely *******

  2. I disagree that logic has prevailed. If it had, this whole silly business of hockey in the summer would have been dropped. My 60 years as a fan are screeching to a halt over this pathetic money-grubbing.

    • Dave you act like the NHL isn’t a business that has employees and contract agreements to fulfill. They are trying to find a way to minimize losses and employ their people just like any other business during this craziness so yes, of course it’s a money grab you silly man!

      • I’m well aware of that Marko, but it’s still pathetic and high risk. Lots of businesses and individuals have had to take theirs lumps. Professional sports should be no different.

    • Caper – like Winnipeg. Manitoba looks great – could they not come up with a workable “bubble” plan? Or did the Premier 86 it?

      • Hi Mark

        I too would have though Winn (with its low Covid numbers) would have been ideal. I’ve never been there. From what I understand; its the hotel issue (or so they say)…. not enough large hotels close to the arena…. Caper …. have I got that right

      • Pengy Mark, from my understanding its the hotels, don’t have the 5 star required. Personally i get that, as the players should be taking care of.

  3. Lyle,
    Could you clarify the 10% withholding of the players salary? I get that part, but will it be taken off each teams total cap?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi, Francois. I’m awaiting more clarity on that. Not sure if they mean the players’ annual average value or the actual salary. If it’s the AAV, then yes, it would mean a 10 percent reduction in each club’s cap hit.

      • Thank you Lyle. They haven’t been clear about it.
        Hopefully we get some clarity if/when they agree to a CBA extension.

      • I think it might be if they start the next season later or maybe it will be a shortened season.

  4. As at now … Tor/Ed as hubs … “barring any…”

    But MacKenzie, I believe , a week and a half ago ; had said “Vegas …… barring any…”

    … we’ll see it when we see it

    …. I’ll throw this out there…. IF all gets going and they make it to SC…. to me, as at now….. Bolts vs Knights; OR Bolts vs Avs; OR *Pens/Knights OR *Pens/Avs

    *HUGE IF , they don’t play JJ; and IF (as I suspect) Bruins don’t get a match-up with Pens (gut feeling that there will be a Bruins/Bolts series B4 ECF)

  5. Hope they open the finals up too fans at least some would love to watch live. With most every team being rested and healthy it’s a crap shoot who makes final.