NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 4, 2020

by | Jul 4, 2020 | News, NHL | 14 comments

​​Multiple Blues players test positive for COVID-19 plus the latest return-to-play and CBA extension news in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


THE ATHLETIC/STLTODAY.COM: report the St. Louis Blues yesterday canceled practices at the team training facility because multiple players tested positive for COVID-19. It’s estimated at least two-thirds of the Blues players took part in Phase 2 workouts this week.

The names and exact numbers of players testing positive have not been released by the team or the league. It’s believed no staff members were among them.

Small-group workouts were canceled for the weekend, but the club is expected to resume practices on Monday. The Phase 2 workouts are voluntary. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports at least one Blues player won’t be attending over coronavirus concerns.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the most recent outbreak of positive COVID-19 tests in the NHL since the Tampa Bay Lightning temporarily closed their training facility two weeks ago after three players and two staff members tested positive.

This news comes as the NHL and NHLPA are negotiating the details on Phase 3 and 4 of the Return-to-Play Plan and an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. The plan and extension have yet to be put to a vote by the NHLPA membership. This recent news could influence the players’ vote.


WINNIPEG SUN: The Canadian government provided quarantine exemption to NHL players traveling to the two hub cities later this month for the league’s 24-team playoff tournament. The Public Health Agency of Canada assessed the league’s return-to-play plan and concluded it provided “robust measures” to mitigate the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

THE SCORE: Toronto mayor John Tory said the NHL provided a thorough plan outlining its safety measures. Toronto and Edmonton are the two host cities for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. Tory indicated the league had “incredibly detailed disinfection and public health measures” that met his city’s protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Assuming the league and the NHLPA approve the return-to-play plan, Phase 3 will be the determining factor whether Phase 4 goes off. Under Phase 3, players participating in the 24-team tournament take part in mandatory training camps in their respective NHL cities. While the league claims its health protocols will be much stricter compared to Phase 2, the players won’t be under a quarantine bubble as they will be in Phase 4. That means there’s still a risk of a spike in positive COVID-19 tests.

The plan reportedly allows players to opt-out of the tournament for whatever reason without penalty. If there’s an outbreak among several teams during Phase 3, it could lead to a large number of players dropping out over coronavirus concerns, potentially derailing Phase 4.


THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance provides some new details:

A source told Pierre LeBrun the extension would be to 2025-26.

The salary cap will remain at $81.5 million until league revenues reach $4.8 billion. After that, a formula for establishing the cap will be employed using hockey-related revenue from the previous two seasons.

The escrow cap will be 20 percent for 2020-21, 14 to 18 percent for 2021-22 pending revenue from the previous season, 10 percent for 2022-23, and six percent for the final three seasons.

An escrow debt of $125 million or more at that time would trigger a one-year extension to the CBA.

Entry-level salaries will be $950K for players drafted in 2022 and 2023, rising to $975K in the next two years and reaching $1 million by 2026. There will also be increases to bonuses for players on entry-level contracts.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman provides further information:

This year’s playoff bonus money will double to $32 million and will reduce to $20 million for next season,

The minimum salary will rise to $750K for 2020-21 and reach $800K by the end of the deal,

No-move and no-trade clauses will travel with the player who agrees to accept a trade, even if that clause hasn’t kicked in yet,

Players 35-and-older can sign contracts that are flat or ascending and there won’t be an ongoing cap hit if they retire,

Six-year front-loaded contracts worth at least 7.5 percent of the salary cap cannot exceed 35 percent between the highest and lowest salary amounts. Rules for other contracts remain the same. Players and teams could consider back-loading new contracts because escrow is capped at a lower number and revenue should increase during that period,

No changes to signing bonuses,

No more conditional draft picks in trades based on a player re-signing with his new team,

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This extension and the return-to-play plan must be ratified by the NHLPA and the league board of governors. Still no word as to when that will take place. With Phase 3 supposedly set for July 13, ratification will have to come soon.


  1. so what happens if a team has several players test positive during the playoffs, do they rely on reserve call ups ? forfeit?
    have also heard that the NHL will televise the games on pay per view only , has anyone else heard this or have any details?

    • Teams will be carrying extra players in reserve. If enough players were to opt-out, however, it could force a club to forfeit.

      Where did you hear that the playoff games would be on pay-per-view? I don’t see that happening under the current NHL television contracts with Sportsnet and NBC Sports.

      • heard the PPV rumor on Ottawa 1200 sport radio about 1 week ago

      • I don’t know where they got that info from. The league has a subscription streaming service. Their main broadcast partners are NBC Sports and Sportsnet, with regional affiliates with TSN and Fox Sports. I don’t see them agreeing to pay-per-view.

    • Hi Fergy

      It may get to a point of cancelation; but the expanded roster (28 skaters plus unlimited goalies) was to mitigate some if the wear and tear in the players due to compressed playoff sched AND has some added bonus of relief if one or two go down to Covid…. that doesn’t help if the two are: McD/ Dreisytl (sp?) ; Sid/Gino; Stammer/Kuch; AM/JT; Pasta/Bergeron etc etc

      Re PPV …. my understanding is TV contracts stand as is…. so no PPV per se ; but there exists already ; NHL packages that allow you to watch all games on phone or tablet… it was $200 for the season I think???

  2. The Phased Return-To-Play plan is fundamentally sound. The key to setting up a Bubble is DO NOT LET ANYONE GET IN OR OUT.
    Guaranteed we will see more players test positive. This Virus *will* get in. The NHL must have a prespecified plan for all contingencies

    • Apparently they do, Mark. It was sufficient enough to pass muster with the governments of Alberta and Ontario and the Canadian government. Details will likely be revealed once te league and the PA ratify the return-to-play plan.

  3. First of all, Happy Independence Day to all here who waive the Red White and Blue …. have a wonderful and safe celebration today!

    Re Blues outbreak….for Iowa boy and other Blues fans… lets hope this is small (says “multiple”… could be 2)

    Re CBA proposed clauses:

    35+ clause pretty well out now??? Can retire and no Cap hit… that surprised me. Was wondering what Caps were going to do about Ovi’s extension…. if I read this correctly …. so Caps Can say… hmmmm…sign Ovi to a $1M sal * 8 plus $40 M in SBs (paid equally over first 4 years)… Ovi gets $11M , $11 M , $11 M, $11 M… retires at 40…. Cap hit $6M …. and disappears on retirement !!!

    No change to SBs… another shocker to me…. top three Leafs get remainder of contract…92-94% is SBs (will get all regardless of league revenue and proposed “payback”

    Re: “ Six-year front-loaded contracts worth at least 7.5 percent of the salary cap cannot exceed 35 percent between the highest and lowest salary amounts”…. so basically over $6.1 M …. I like the crimping (from 50% ) to 35%; but this says “salary”… SB manipulation will almost make that clause moot won’t it?

    • C’mon Pengy…. At least give the GM’s a chance to find the loop holes.

      • I only asked for but one “loophole”…. CBO …. just one …. they couldn’t do that for me…. alas now the only hope for Pens is to offer Seattle ZAR + Laffy + 3rd for them to take # 3 in the expansion draft. 😡😭

    • If I were a Blues fan, I would hope the whole team gets it. Same as me and my family. The sooner we get it the sooner we can drop all this b.s. and get on with our lives.

      • Be careful what you wish for. Now there are reports that indicate the anti-bodies developed by those who contracted the virus and “recovered” are disappearing from their systems after approximately 8 weeks. Which means, of course, you can get it again.

  4. Good Morning
    Been awhile since I’ve commented. Has a number been set as to how many will be on roster ? I was thinking 30 ( up 50%) from normal times but now lean towards 32. 4 goalies as sometimes a team loses 2 quickly and that would spell biggie problem. 10 D-men and 18 forwards.
    PPV ? That would be really stupid. A lot of local channels like Fox Sports West / Prime Ticket in the west and NESN & others in the east are no doubt bleeding money, you take away real live sports and it will cause a lot of future headaches.
    Also the only thing I watch on TV anymore is live sports. I’ve only kept cable TV waiting for baseball & hockey to come back, the minute they announce sorry no Hockey / Baseball or you still have to pay $ 200+ a month and pay more to see the games on PPV, I’m DONE.

    • Hi Boom/Bust

      I believe its 28 skaters AND unlimited # of goalies

      Re watching live sports …. you may have to PVR (or split screen) the NHL games as there may be a game in T.O. running at same time as one in Ed

      Re PPV…. I think same TV contracts stand