NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 23, 2020

by | Nov 23, 2020 | News, NHL | 12 comments

Latest return-to-play news plus updates on Max Domi, Nikita Zadorov, Jesse Puljujarvi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox suggests hockey could return to normal by next September with coronavirus vaccines on the way. The NHL, meanwhile, is attempting to stage a shortened 2020-21 season with empty arenas, an all-Canadian division, a canceled All-Star break and playoffs that could finish in mid-July.

Talk of starting the season on Jan. 1 appears increasingly unlikely with each passing day. The pandemic is hitting rates in some American states not seen elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, the all-Canadian division could hit a snag with rising COVID-19 rates in the provinces with NHL clubs.

Setting aside the entire season, however, doesn’t make sense for the league from a business standpoint. Return-to-play negotiations hit a snag last week over the league’s request for additional escrow and salary deferral from the players.

THE PROVINCE: An NHL player agent told Ben Kuzma the players hold the leverage in return-to-play negotiations because league commissioner Gary Bettman “has to preserve the integrity of the game and they have to play a season – whatever it looks like.” Failure to do so, according to the agent, would hurt the league’s brand.

If it was a just a clear deferral, I think players individually would look at that, if they had the flexibility,” added the agent. “But players are in different situations. If a guy is on a long-term deal, would it make sense for him to defer some money this year? That’s a voluntary decision and it might be able to work, but the players and league have to agree on it.

And part of the problem with deferred income is that in the U.S., it’s not guaranteed. So, if an owner wants to declare bankruptcy, the first thing a court is going to throw away is unsecured debt. And if you secure it, you add tax to that particular year.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA are running out of time to reach an agreement on a return-to-play plan for Jan. 1. The quickest way to that route would be the league backing off on their requests for increased escrow and salary deferral rates, but I don’t see Bettman and the team owners doing that. The players have dug in their heels. If the league does the same, the entire 2020-21 season will be in jeopardy.

ESPN.COM: In a recent interview with Greg Wyshynski, Max Domi addressed his recent trade from the Montreal Canadiens to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He pointed to his and the Canadiens’ struggles last season as factors that led to the deal, but he expressed no ill will toward his former club.

Domi’s looking forward to playing for the Blue Jackets as he feels they’re a team that’s ready to win. “They’re the hardest team to play against in the league. I can tell you that first-hand.”

THE ATHLETIC: Nikita Zadorov is looking forward to a larger role and more responsibilities with the Chicago Blackhawks after being largely a third-pair defenseman with the Colorado Avalanche. Zadorov was traded last month to the Blackhawks.

SPORTSNET: Jesse Puljujarvi’s improvement in Finland bodes well for his return this season to the Edmonton Oilers. He spent all of last season with the Oilers over a contract dispute.

TORONTO SUN: Defenseman Mikko Lehtonen terminated his contract last week with KHL club Jokerit Helsinki and is heading to Toronto to join the Maple Leafs. The 26-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Leafs in May and was loaned to Jokerit in August.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers have officially partnered with the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits.


  1. Re

    “ Jesse Puljujarvi’s improvement in Finland bodes well for his return this season to the Edmonton Oilers.”

    Agree; but on a side note regarding that League; Anton Lundel (just selected in this year’s NHL draft) is tearing that League up…. 11-7-19 in 15 games; + 8

    Looks like a good mid first round pick up by Panthers

    • Maybe not Pengy. Somewhere – perhaps a link via this site? – quoted a scout saying that effort and a commitment to defense need improvement from Puljujarvi.

      • Hi LJ

        No denying that his 200’ game needs improvement…. no idea if he is accomplishing that over there

        The offence has improved

        He has everything to prove once he returns; and he will be in game shape upon return… so it will all be “between the ears” needed improvement IMHO

  2. Just call an end to this coming season now – anything else is stupid to the bone – forget the success of the “bubble” format – it isn’t going to happen that way again with the virus reaching new heights and full implementation of a vaccine still months way – Ontario, as one example, is predicting 6,000 cases PER DAY by mid-December at the current rate – Quebec on about an identical path, as is Alberta and Manitoba.

    The U.S. is simply waiting for the roof to collapse – and there are STILL morons out there – on BOTH side of the border – shrugging it off as a “conspiracy.”


    So there’s no hockey for the better part of year – big frikken deal – it didn’t stop them from cancelling an entire season not that long ago over disagreement as to how to divvy up billions. Now they want to forge ahead to “salvage a small % of that?

    Unfortunately, there is NO vaccine for stupidity.

    • You could be right George, I’m starting to get to where you are on this.
      No vaccine for stupidity George, but there is a cure for ignorance. People believe what they want these days and get their info from places that reinforce an existing belief. That has now become obvious.
      Not sure how we fix that, but we need to.
      I don’t want to go full rant again, so I won’t.

      Alberta is bad this time around and it is all about attitude and what people want to believe so they can continue to do what they want to do.
      Not enough folks care about their fellow citizens I guess.
      The citizens of this province couldn’t handle it on their own, so my guess is the gov’t will do it for us. Any day now. No choice.
      My guess is the same folks that caused the problem will scream the loudest about the solution.

    • Hi George

      Re “ Unfortunately, there is NO vaccine for stupidity.”

      My late father might disagree with you

      There were times in my youth that my father would cuff (to put it lightly… not!) me or my brother on the back of the head for no reason….he’d then say “that’s for nothing; just try something” (I’m surprised I never got a detached retina!)

      That stupidity vaccine was very effective for bouts of 2-3 weeks at a time for me

      I then needed re-vaccination

      My brother’s was less effective…. sometimes only lasting a couple of days. One day he was vaccinated 4 times 👍

      • LOL. You should try having a dad who was a Regimental Sgt.-Major and who didn’t see you from the time you were 1 1/2 to 7 y/o!

        Absolutely NO room – nor tolerance – for stupid behavior as you moved into your teens.

        That’s not to say there was no stupid behavior – just make damned sure you weren’t caught.

      • I was better than my brother at not getting caught

        My Dad was just shy of being old enough to volunteer for WWII… but he ruled the house like a Regimental Sgt. Major…. must have been self taught…. repetitive learning by experiment… you’ll never guess who he experimented on

      • Nothing like a Iittle child abuse story to break up the hockey talk

      • Child abuse my ass – everything I got I deserved

    • Has there been a “rush” job that has ever worked?
      Agree. Just shut it down ’til Sept., 2021

  3. Considering that the major part of the NHL’s TV revenue is garnered by Canadian teams. I would think than an all-Canadian division would make a league about to get poorer grow poor more rapidly. If American teams don’t generate a TV audience sufficient to attract sponsors, will there be enough Canadians interested in games between American teams to make them worth televising?