NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 9, 2020
The tentative schedule for the rest of this season, more tidbits from the CBA extension, Devils to hire Lindy Ruff as head coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY AND CBA EXTENSION NEWS
TSN: Frank Seravalli provided updates to the tentative key dates for the NHL’s return-to-play plan.
July 13 remains the start date for training camps under Phase 3. On July 24, teams will travel to their respective hub city for the playoff tournament under Phase 4.
July 25: Exhibition games begin
July 30: Qualifying round begins
Aug. 9: Opening round of the playoffs begins
Aug. 23: Second round begins
Sept. 6: Conference Finals begin
Sept. 20: Stanley Cup Final begins
Oct. 2: Last possible game of the Cup Final
Oct. 6: 2020 NHL Draft. The draft must be held following the end of the playoffs and before free agency begins
Oct. 9: Free Agency begins (or seven days following the end of the Stanley Cup Final, whichever is later)
Nov. 17: Training camps open for the 2020-21 season
Dec. 1: 2020-21 regular season begins
All dates are subject to change.
The NHL and NHLPA also have an agreement to abandon the return-to-play plan if the number of players opting-out on a team- or league-wide basis adversely affects the integrity of the post-season.
COLORADO SPORTS NOW: Adrian Dater reports the opt-out deadline has been extended to Monday night (July 13).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most observers doubt a large number of players will opt-out. We’ll know for certain by Monday night.
Bob McKenzie reports the summary of the memorandum of understanding lists Edmonton and Toronto as the host cities for Phase 4. The Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto and the Western Conference clubs in Edmonton. The Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final will be held in one host city but that has yet to be determined.
The final paycheck for 2019-20 that the players deferred will now be used to pay down escrow.
The late start of the 2020-21 season means the players will receive one paycheck in the fall.
ESPN: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL is working on its US broadcast plans for the 24-team playoff tournament. The qualification and round-robin games will be shown locally on regional sports networks. Discussions are ongoing over how many of the games will be shown nationally on NBC Sports Network.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unsubstantiated rumors suggested the games would be televised on pay-per-view. That’s not happening because of existing television contracts in the United States and Canada.
THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Jason Kay cited reports of an Edmonton hospital effectively shutting its doors because of a full-facility COVID-19 outbreak. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “at this point” he doesn’t expect it’ll affect the league’s hub city announcement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think it’ll affect things as long as there’s no indication it could spread into the proposed secure area of The Ice District in Edmonton.
Some interesting CBA extension tidbits were revealed:
Frank Seravalli reports the one-week interview period for unrestricted free agents before the start of the free-agent market has been eliminated.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, it’s back to general managers working the phones with player agents trying to hammer out new contracts. I’m pleased with this development, as it will bring back the intrigue and excitement that was disappearing from the start of the free-agent period Because of the interview period, we knew where most of the top UFAs were going a day or two before the market opened. Now, it’s back to the good old guessing game as it should be.
The maximum entry-level base salary will rise to $950K for 2022-23 and 2023-24, then to $975K for 2024-25 and 2025-26, and $1 million for 2026-27. Entry-level bonuses will also increase.
TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports trade conditions that make it harder for a player to re-sign with the team that acquired him won’t be allowed. For example, if a player is traded for a third-round pick but it becomes a first if the player signs with his new club.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports clubs that have a performance overage for this season will have the option to evenly distribute it between 2020-21 and 2021-22 (50 percent each season).
IN OTHER NEWS…
NORTHJERSEY.COM: cites NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting the New Jersey Devils are expected to name Lindy Ruff as their new head coach. Ruff is an assistant coach with the New York Rangers and is the former head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. The Devils are also expected to make interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald their full-time GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff’s hiring is garnering mixed reactions from Devils fans. Supporters cite his experience and success in Buffalo, while detractors consider him the wrong coach for a rebuilding club.
Fitzgerald earned his opportunity as the full-time GM, going a good job in difficult circumstances on short notice following the midseason firing of Ray Shero.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Chris Pronger has stepped down as the Florida Panthers senior VP of hockey operations to focus on his family’s high-end travel agency business.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo cites a source reporting Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to sign prospect Kirill Kaprizov for 2019-20 and burn the first year of his three-year entry-level deal if Kaprizov is willing to do so. Under the terms of the CBA extension, he wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the upcoming playoff tournament.