NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 12, 2020
An update on the plans for next season plus the latest on Tuukka Rask, Cam Talbot, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL NETWORK: Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes we’ll learn more on the NHL’s plans to open the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 over the next two weeks. The league and the NHLPA will use that period to see how quickly the season can begin and what it will look like.
Friedman believes a rumored proposal to the NHL board of governors for their meeting today is unlikely as it might be too soon. However, he thinks the governors will be updated over what’s being discussed.
He also feels the league is serious about starting on New Year’s Day. He points to MLB and NFL not playing in a quarantine bubble, resulting in cancellations and things beyond their control. The best option might be to start as early as possible and adjust on the fly like MLB did and the NFL is doing. That would leave a week or two open at the end of the season to make up games if necessary.
If they start on Jan. 1, the number of games played would be 56 and 72. Friedman’s sources didn’t mention 48 games, though he didn’t rule it out. What the schedule will look like, how many games the players are willing to play per week, whether they’ll be played in hub cities or not remain to be determined.
Friedman also said there’s a growing sense from teams that they want to play in their own buildings, though there’s concern from a few teams that they won’t be able to because of government regulations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, the NHL and NHLPA don’t have a lot of time to work out the details for a Jan. 1 start to the season. Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the two sides are in constant daily contact but their return-to-play committee has yet to hold its first meeting.
A Jan. 1 start means training camps must open for most clubs in early December, with last season’s seven non-playoff teams (Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose) opening camps in late November. All players must return to their home cities before then. Sorting out an exhibition schedule that incorporates the Christmas holidays must be worked out. A regular-season schedule must be planned out and coordinated with their broadcasting partners.
I’m not saying these details can’t be worked out in short order, but the league and the players must get cracking to reach a workable agreement to drop the puck on New Year’s Day.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said his club is “full steam ahead” with goaltender Tuukka Rask for 2020-21. “I think everything that happened in the bubble has been addressed, dealt with,” said Cassidy, referring to Rask’s leaving the team for family reasons during the 2020 playoffs. “We’re moving on, getting ready to win next year. That includes our goaltender.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s silly to even imagine the Bruins not returning with Rask next season. They have no viable replacement options within their system or via the trade and free-agent markets. Rask’s departure had the full support of the club and his teammates. I don’t believe it was an issue or will be one going forward.
NBC SPORTS: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is part of a fundraising drive that raised $17 million to save Alabama-Huntsville’s hockey program. Talbot is a UAH alumnus. He pointed out it’s still important for the UAH Chargers to get into a college conference. They’re the only NCAA Division 1 hockey program in the Southeastern United States.
SWISS HOCKEY NEWS: A recent report claims NHL free-agent center Carl Soderberg is seeking a well-paid deal in Switzerland. That could be difficult given the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. Soderberg is also receiving interest from Sweden.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle is making good progress in his recovery from a broken bone in his hand. Stuetzle was selected third overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: One year after Don Cherry was fired by Sportsnet, Ken Campbell believes the hockey world is better off.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cherry’s supporters believe otherwise. For what it’s worth, I think his replacements, Kevin Bieksa and Brian Burke, did a good job. Bieksa is a breath of fresh air breaking down plays and is a natural TV personality. Burke provides the inside hockey observations and old-school attitude without veering far off-topic like Cherry used to do.
SHL: Former NHL goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has announced his retirement. “The Monster” played eight seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers from 2009-10 to 2016-17, with a career record of 72 wins, 67 losses and 23 overtime losses, 2.88 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and seven shutouts in 179 games. He spent the last four seasons with Linkopings HC of the Swedish Hockey League.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Gustavsson in his future endeavors.