NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2020

by | Nov 13, 2020 | News, NHL | 21 comments

Details emerge from the NHL board of governors briefing for the 2020-21 season, the Sharks could face vacating their arena, an update on Bobby Ryan and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.


TSN: Frank Seravalli provides details from the NHL’s board of governors conference call and the NHLPA executive board conference call on Thursday.

The league reiterated its intent to open the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1, 2021, in its video conference call with its board of governors on Thursday. Neither that date nor a format for the season, however, is carved in stone. Many governors and owners wonder if Feb. 1 might be more realistic.

Players have not yet been provided a date to report to their respective cities.

There’s a growing appetite for teams to open their seasons in their own arenas rather than in hybrid bubbles, though the latter remains an option. The cost of operating those bubbles and the potential lost revenue with games staged at neutral sites is behind the preference for each team to travel city to city to complete a shortened regular season as the NFL and MLB have done.

Under that scheme, there would be temporary divisional realignments, including an all-Canadian division. Teams would be permitted to have a limited number of fans based on local and regional health regulations, with the hope that capacities could expand over the course of a season and a vaccine becomes available. It would also allow teams to recoup in-arena signage and broadcasting ad revenue.

Teams would travel to divisional opponents to face each other in short series of games similar to that of a baseball schedule to reduce travel and players’ time away from their families.

The only certainty is there won’t be an 82-games schedule. Various models involved 48 to 62-game schedules.

NHL players have braced for a possible proration of salaries. Under the new CBA they agreed to be paid 72 percent of their salaries for 2020-21, with 20 percent paid back to owners for last season’s losses plus a 10 percent deferral. Seravalli explains it’s 72 percent because it’s 20 percent off the top plus 10 percent of the remaining 80 percent.

NHLPA members were told to expect an ask of increased salary deferral for next season rather than proration. It won’t change what they get paid, only when they get it, but they might be expected to give up something in return, though it has yet to be determined what that might be.

Seravalli’s colleague Pierre LeBrun reported there are now 16 players on the return-to-play committee, including Ian Cole, Zach Hyman, Claude Giroux and Ron Hainsey. Last spring’s committee involved just five players. It appears the committee is currently working more internally with the Players Association while the PA and the league hold higher-level discussions.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL envisions a 14-day training camp as the run-up to the start of the season. If it’s Jan. 1, that could cause some conflicts for players to spend time with their families during Christmas because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. It probably wouldn’t be a deal-breaker but it could become a topic of conversation.

Brooks adds NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr is steadfast that the union won’t accept salary proration for a season of fewer than 82 games. Meanwhile, sources claim three-to-five owners said they’d be unable to survive under these circumstances and would be better off not playing the season. He also said the league has pitched a further salary deferral to the PA rather than proration.

Players remain scattered across the globe while the return-to-play committee has yet to stage a meeting.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reports the league remains cautious in its approach to opening next season. As they did in this summer’s successful return-to-play playoff tournament, they’re taking their time and garnering as much information as possible before making firm announcements on a 2020-21 schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the league is going with a January 1 start, their 14-day training camp will have to begin no later than Dec. 18. Last season’s seven non-playoff clubs were promised an earlier start of 7-to-10 days, which could see them begin on Dec. 8.

The return-to-play committee still has some time to hammer out an agreement for a Jan. 1 start but they must get started soon. It’s looking like the NHL and NHLPA bigwigs will work out the main issues and the committee could end up addressing secondary issues.

The players will definitely prefer another salary deferral over proration. That the league is willing to offer up deferral over proration indicates they don’t want labor strife to derail their plans for next season. As Seravalli pointed out, however, they’re probably going to have to give up something in return. It could be accepting a much higher deferral rate.

Any return-to-play plan, however, depends upon the course of the pandemic. The league and the players may want to start as soon as possible, but the growing number of cases throughout North America could push that start date into February or March.


NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Proposed development around the SAP Center could force the San Jose Sharks to leave the arena. Team president Jonathan Becher said the Sharks don’t want to leave, but the city’s plans for developing the area surrounding the arena could make it difficult for fans to get to the area. It’s unclear if Becher’s statement means the Sharks would have to build a new arena or move to another city in the Bay Area.

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports Bobby Ryan admitted he was shocked when the Ottawa Senators informed him they were buying out his contract. He said the conversation lasted about a minute. “There’s not really much to say. What do you say, really? I said, “OK, thank you, good luck” and that’s it,” said Ryan.

Ryan also said he was impressed by the pitch of Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman. He indicated he chose the rebuilding Wings because he felt he still had some high-end hockey left in him and didn’t want to be a third- or fourth-line player. Yzerman told him he’d get the opportunity to skate on the top nine in Detroit.

He added the Wings GM said if Ryan’s having a good year and wants to move on and there’s interest in the winger at the trade deadline, they can sit down and discuss those things.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Malcolm Subban has an opportunity to become a starting goaltender with the Blackhawks. The club intends to make it a competition between Subban, Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen which will play out over the course of the season.


  1. If i’m understanding the above correctly, the players don’t want to give up any of their wages; great in theory but not practical.

    If i’m an owner and have to pay full salary for a shorten season, i wouldn’t be playing the season.

    • That’s why the league could propose wage deferral. The players won’t get their full pay for this season but would receive it at a later date when revenue improves.

      • In these “not normal” times I do think the players need to consider some extra flexibility, regardless of what the CBA says. The NHL is trying to put together a viable schedule during a worldwide pandemic.
        I’m not sure why any owner would want to pay a player for 82 games if the league only plays 48.
        Just curious: If the NHL doesn’t play at all this season, do the players get 0 or do they still get paid for a full 82 game season?

    • That the thing Lyle i don’t want a deferral, i want to pay you based on games played.

      Take your salary divide by 82 times by games played.

      Players need to take a hit with the owners or just close down the season.

      • caper, the players are within their rights to reject proration based on the new CBA. They’re already giving up 20 percent in escrow and 10 percent deferred for 2020-21. Neither side wants this to become an issue that derails or delays the start of the season. Deferral seems to be the way forward here, though the players could face a much bigger reduction for this season.

  2. There should be guidance on how you incorporate on-site fans (limited numbers, masking mandates, airflow measures)
    ..and Local Government needs to be involved (crowd size limitations)..these are INDOOR facilities

    • All reports indicate the league would bring back a limited number of fans based on local health and safety protocols.

    • Lyle,
      I believe the 20% + 8% were to cover the owners’ losses of LAST season, a season where the players pretty much insisted on receiving full pay anyway despite not having played close to a full season.

      In other words, those %’s being paid now are to repay what was, in effect, an interest-free loan from the owners last year.

      Pretty cheeky of the players to then now say that they won’t take a cut on a shortened season this year because they’re already taking a cut to pay back the pay they didn’t earn last year.

      Everyone should be taking the same equivalent % hit, imo.


      • Regardless, the players are within their rights under the new CBA to reject proration. That’s why a further salary deferral is likely the best route for the league, though the players could see another big chunk of their salary pushed well down the road as a result.

  3. The one potential problem with following a baseball format – i.e., go to a city and play 3 games in 4 days or whatever – is, what happens if that city experiences a sudden surge in positive Covid-19 tests (as is happening now in the GTA, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, NYC, L.A., etc, – and the authorities shut everything down (as is happening now in some places)?

    Trying to re-schedule those lost games in an already compressed schedule would be a logistical nightmare.

    • Elliotte Friedman addressed that yesterday. He said one reason the league prefers to start up on Jan. 1 is to leave a couple of weeks open at the end of the season to make up for any postponements.

      • A couple of weeks might be fine if that happened once. But let’s say, for example, both Toronto and Montreal are forced to close down most places due to an increase (as is happening now) and it affects 2 or 3 visiting teams scheduled at each venue – a couple of weeks tacked on at the end would not do it.

  4. Shame on Stan Bowman in not acquiring a top flight goalie this off season … anyone would have been better than that dreck he has now going into next year.

    • Fingers crossed the players hold firm on no probation and it’s 5 teams that fold (ideally many more). Fewer slugs improves the product.

      Doesn’t matter if Toronto has to play their games in other Canadian cities as they are all home games for Leafs in Canada.


      • lol all home games for leafs?
        no. this isnt sunshine florida, or ottawa – for the habs

  5. Still can’t see a 1/1 start; and can’t envision fans in seats for season start…. Covid restrictions….. and if low % allowed …. say 10% occupancy …. still have costs associated with building staff….. why have 1,800 in an arena to start?

    I think fans will be allowed if local Covid restrictions allow 30% or more occupancy ….. so 1/2 start much more viable and likely

    Deferral vs increasing escrow…. yes players want deferral; owners want escrow increase

    If it’s a 60 game (or less) season (almost a given) and seated fans limited (given)…. then revs will be way down beyond 20% (current escrow)…. waaaaay down

    A 60 game schedule; with 30% fans to start and eventually getting up to maybe 70% (a stretch) by end if season…. is still IMHO going to see drops in rev closing in on 50%….. deferral just is a cash flow thing … owners still lose big

    Per TSN …. owners have the right under theCBA to open up the pro-rate clause

    What is more likely IMO, is a give-take both sides…..

    If 60 games….. 10% extra deferral AND 10 % extra escrow

    48 games… extra 15% to both

    1/2 start; 48 games; full playoffs; 15% extra escrow and deferral ; realigned Divs; playoffs completed by 30/6; 21/22 starts as “normal” first week in Oct

    Re Div realignment…. please no conspiracy theories that they are talking about this just due to the fact that realignment automatically shifts Leafs from bubble /Wildcard battle (current Divs) to likely 2nd in Can div (behind Habs)….yes it favours Leafs…. but this is a Covid and logical move…. not some “favouritism” move to benefit Leafs…. yes I’m happy with the proposal …. but it IS the right thing to do

    • LOL the Habs pengy? Have we forgotten that they were not playoff bound team but somehow this season they magically become cup contenders and better than everyone else’s? Maybe better than Ottawa but I doubt they’ll be better than the nucks or oil. I think even the flames will finish better…but we’ll see.

      pengy no comment on Kappy playing next to Sid next year? Potentially good looking line big shoes for kappy to fill.

      • Hi Ron

        I’m very happy on the suggested Sid-Guentz-Kappy line …. buckets o’ speed

        Re Habs… anything can happen but looking at their changes and current make up….

        Comparing to Leafs….

        Goaltending…. Habs by a big amount

        D…. Habs for sure

        Top line …. Leafs by far
        Top 2 lines …. Leafs but not as much as top line to top line

        4 Lines …. to me Habs much better balance

        So to me …. Habs , as at right now…. the better of the two

        TSN and SN lauding Leafs as potential tops of proposed CanDiv…. I just think Habs are better than them

        If it wasn’t for the uncertainty in how the goaltenders will fair in 20/21 and the Klefbom issue; I’d have said Ed has a fair shot at top two in the Div

        Sens on the build; Jets still with uncertainties

        ‘Nucks, Flames, Oil, Habs, Leafs will be tight IMHO; but if pressed now to see (on paper) which team is better…. to me Habs

        As I said…. anything can happen…. that’s my viewpoint as at right now with current roster make-up

        Not sure how they may do the temp realign for other divs (I would think Metro would be least affected) but of the current US based Western franchises…. Knights followed by Avs IMHO

      • That is a good question regarding the CDN division standings.
        As much as I don’t want to encourage Wendel, I would go:
        Leafs, Oil, Flames, Habs, Jets, Nucks, Sens.

        I might flip flop the Jets and Habs.
        Probably wrong with all.

  6. no easy way. here in south florida i believe there is a 13,000 seat limit at dolphin games. at bbt arena, dont know what perentage of fans would be permitted. and yes you still have to pay for the in house staff. no more concessions or severely reduced, and probably forget about going down on the glass for warmups.going to be very different.

  7. “It’s unclear if Becher’s statement means the Sharks would have to build a new arena or move to another city in the Bay Area.”

    It seems pretty clear to me, at least based on this Becher quote in the article:
    “Unfortunately, those discussions have yielded limited results and the planners of these projects appear intent on moving forward in a manner that could force the Sharks out of San Jose.”