NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2020

by | Nov 24, 2020 | News, NHL | 21 comments

The latest on the return-to-play discussions, four Golden Knights test positive for COVID-19, the Bruins sign Jake DeBrusk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cited NHL insider Nick Kypreos saying there were no discussions over the weekend between the league and the NHL Players Association for the first time in weeks regarding the 2020-21 season.


The league remains focused on a Jan. 1 start but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested several times that date is flexible and could be pushed back a week or two.

Garrioch believes it’s been quiet of late because the two sides have likely retreated to their offices to come up with a plausible agreement acceptable to the owners. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk last week indicated not all the 31 owners are on board with the plan put forward because of the losses they’ll face for 2020-21. The players last week rejected two requests from the league for increased escrow and salary deferral rates.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reported “a prominent agent” said talks are currently at a standstill. Three other player agents wondered when is enough with the constant concessions the players have made since the 2004-05 lockout. One accused league commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of using the pandemic to squeeze more out of the players. Another agent claims he knows of five or six owners seriously questioning if it makes sense to stage a season.

Murphy feels the longer negotiations drag on, the more NHL and AHL players could head overseas to play in Europe, particularly those on two-way contracts who finished last season in the AHL. He also cites a league source suggesting a Feb. 5 start date for the season remains an option.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Bettman is dealing with a handful of disgruntled owners, with some believing they got a bad deal in the new collective bargaining agreement and a few telling the commissioner they’d prefer not to play if there are no fans because of operating losses.

According to a source, Bettman is “managing” those owners, telling them sitting out the season isn’t an option because of the damage to the league’s long-term health. However, he is trying to address their concerns, which include an infusion of cash to start the season, hence the league’s requests to the players last week.

Kaplan reports sources indicated the players remain willing to work with the league because it’s in everyone’s best interest to stage a season. If the league is trying to borrow money from the players, the PA could seek concessions such as increased health insurance for players in retirement. Kaplan also notes the NHL owners will be getting $650 million in expansion fees in 2021-22 plus a new U.S. Television deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This stalemate between the league and the PA could stretch on for weeks and put the 2020-21 season into jeopardy. But as long as Bettman and the players remain determined to return to play, the less likely the season will be canceled. There appears a genuine desire on both sides to get this done, though there’s no denying the league’s recent requests have stalled negotiations.

Barring a significant breakthrough by the end of this week, I think we can forget about the Jan. 1 start date. As Garrioch pointed out, Daly has previously suggested that start date was flexible. It could be anywhere between mid-January and mid-February, though the earlier the better if they hope to stage a meaningful schedule.


LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Four Vegas Golden Knights players have tested positive for COVID-19. The club confirmed their status but declined to identify them. The four are in self-isolation and “recovering well.” The club is taking precautionary measures by closing their off-ice training facilities and player areas to players and staff through Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This serves as a reminder that the pandemic will still affect the players if the 2020-21 season takes place. Without playing in a quarantine bubble as they did during the 2020 playoffs, they risk exposure to the coronavirus even with increased testing and strict health and safety protocols.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.675 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk had the bad luck to complete an entry-level contract in the midst of a pandemic that adversely affected the NHL salary cap. While his agent had suggested his client was worth $6 million per season, there was no way he was going to get that much from the Bruins or from another club via an offer sheet under the current economic conditions.

It’s a good deal for the Bruins because they get DeBrusk under contract at a reasonable short-term deal that also leaves enough cap space for other moves. The young winger still gets a decent raise and a chance for a much better deal in two years times when he’ll have arbitration rights in a potentially better economic climate.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is leaving Finnish club Pori Assat and returning to Montreal in what’s considered a sign the club is preparing to stage its training camp soon. Kotkaniemi will begin a 14-day quarantine upon his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s not the only player skating in Europe coming back to North America. If more players follow suit it’ll signal the league and the PA are close to a return-to-play agreement.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks hired Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist. She’s the organization’s first-ever female development coach. They also hired former NHL player Erik Condra as a player development coach.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets hired Dave Lowry as an assistant coach. The father of Jets center Adam Lowry said he doesn’t expect any issues with the two working for the same team.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers hired Shane Churla as their director of amateur scouting. The former NHL player spent the past seven seasons with the Canadiens scouting staff. He also spent seven seasons as an amateur scout with the Dallas Stars and another five in the same role with the Arizona Coyotes.


  1. Re Teams:

    “ few telling the commissioner they’d prefer not to play if there are no fans because of operating losses.”….. Arz front and center

    Re Kypper and

    “ Some say league could threaten to push back start as late as Feb 1st /48 games”…. how is that a threat to players? They’d still play , and without any other changes…. remain at 72% of Sal (20% escrow [bringing to 80%] , plus additional 10% [of the 80%] on deferral)

    Feb 1; 48-60 games; another 10 % and 10 % for escrow and deferral if 48 games; if 60 …. just 10% deferral

  2. A special shout out to the Chicago Blackhawks for hiring Coyne-Schofield … thank God, now we won’t have to listen to her on TV …

  3. Re
    “ Four Vegas Golden Knights players have tested positive for COVID-19. ”…. must have already been skating together; or socializing together….randomly 4 of same team getting exposed …. hard to believe

    Re DeBrusk…. IMHO , good deal both sides

    Bruins with $3M in space (that’s with 24 players Sals [including the 3 LTIRs]… so sloughing a league min player to get to 23—- effectively $3.7 M (if all LTIRs play game 1 …. they won’t)

    Chara or Vats (replacing another league min on roster)… still has Bruins with $2 – $3M in flex…. that’s w/o LTIR

    If it were a 1/1 start (uhhhh … very unlikely)…. then with 1 month (at least 1/5th of season) of LTIR for Pasta and Marchand, plus the $2M – $3M above….. Hoffman is still a possibility; Duclair could fit in for sure. Haula?

  4. The Jake Debrusk signing is a good deal for both. As Slick pointed out yesterday the second year is $4.850 meaning his qualifying offer is over $4m. I guess though for a guy whose agent feel he is a $6m man, that QO doesn’t mean much.

    A week from today is December 1st, does anyone realistically see a return to play for Jan 1st?

    Players would still want from December 23rd to December 26th off, wouldn’t you think?

    • Hi Caper

      With you re DeBrusk… fair both sides

      Re QO … from CapFreindly : “ 100% of the base salary if the base salary is equal to or greater than $1,000,000.”…. so his QO will be $4.85 M

      Yep… seriously doubting 1/1 start

      If a go… 1/2 start with 48-60 games; regional divs (including CanDiv; and “grouped” type of games…..

      E.g. Leafs host Sens 3 in 4 nights; followed by hosting Habs 4 in 6; off for 5 games; then out to Alta for 7 games (3 Oil, 4 Flames) in 12 nights ; home for ‘Nucks (3 in 5 nights ) followed by 4 in 6 with Jets; off for 7…. then spin rinse repeat with reverse of what they just did re home vs away with those opponents; and 3 games (instead of 4) and visa versa)….. 6 opponents ….. 10 games each (3-4-3; 4-3-3; 3-3-4)…. that’s 60 games.

      If 48 games…. all 4 games in 6 or 7 nights…. back to back series at home ….. 8 in 12 -14) off a week; road for 8 in 12 to 14 , week off…. tight but doable to start playoffs 1/6 … tighten playoff schedule …. done by Olympics (if happening)

      That’s 48 games 1/2 through 31/5…. where players only do 3 road trips …. max time away from home is 3 times of 13-15 days…. the rest all at home. Only 6 hotel stays. 9 total flight..l. That’s it

      • Pengy i’m not sure how the QO works, i say this because PuckMedia tweeted that Debrusk yr 1 $2.5m sal
        yr 2 $4.85m sal

        Will be RFA w/Arb rights on expiry, 2 years from UFA w/ Qualifying offer of $4.41m

        If i’m reading that right it has to do with how many years away from UFA?

      • Hi Caper

        I should have read further on Cap Friendly

        Below this found on CapFriendly:

        “ The qualifying offer is calculated from the players base salary (NHL salary minus signing bonus), and at minimum must meet the seasons minimum salary requirements:

        110% of the base salary if the base salary is less than or equal to $660,000

        105% of the base salary if the base salary is greater than $660,000 or less than $1,000,000. However, this qualifying offer cannot exceed $1,000,000.

        100% of the base salary if the base salary is equal to or greater than $1,000,000.”

        Was followed with information on the new CBA change:

        “ For players who are on expiring contracts that were signed after July 10, 2020:

        The Qualifying Offer is limited to 120% of their previous contracts annual average (AAV)”

        This was apparently done because of many recent bridge contracts that had big increases in last year…Point’s $6.75 M Cap/AAV was signed fore this so his last year of $9 M makes his QO in June of ‘22….$9 M

        So ….for DeBrusk (under new rules) that’s 1.20 * 3.675…..$4.41 M

        Thanks for pointing that out… had I not seen that ; I wouldn’t have looked again on the CapFriendly sight to see this new rule


  5. We can all fall down from exhaustion speculating on if or when the season will start. However, there are now three vaccines poised to be distributed.

    Yes, distribution, efficacy and uptake are amongst many issues. But it is almost certain vaccines will be available in the spring. That ushers in the possibility of fans in arenas, and possibly a business case for extending the season later into the year to boost revenues.

    We thus could have a season that starts in February and ends in August, and closer to a full season.

    I can’t be the only one that sees this as a possibility (no more), so I wonder if that will factor into the NHL/NHLPA decision making.

    • LJ, while we all hold out that kind of “hope” there are experts in the field telling us otherwise based on the summation of a number of factors and not the wishful-thinking media, politicians and NHL talking heads. Here, for example, from the Center For Global Development, they are looking to 2023!


      • George, I knew you would respond and I appreciate the article. But I stitched into my comment enough caveats, provisos and maybes to feed a law office for a year.

        To the article itself: ” … our modelling suggests that there is a 50 percent chance that by the end of April 2021 there will be a vaccine safe and efficacious enough to win approval from a stringent regulator.”

        Here is another quote from Associated Press today:

        “Despite the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in just a few weeks, it could take several months — probably well into 2021 — before things get back to something close to normal in the U.S. and Americans can once again go to the movies, cheer at an NBA game or give Grandma a hug.”

        Again, more caveats and provisos … but it is apparent there will be a vaccine distribution sooner than the article you quote anticipates.

        All I am saying is that it is surely worth the NHL/NHLPAs anticipating fans in the stands with (1) a later start date (2) a longer season.

      • To add more gloom to the outlook, instances of covid mutations have been reported already, so a vaccine that’s effective against this year’s edition of covid may not do so well next year.

    • I read the attached George and they are already looking to be proven wrong on a couple things.
      When the vaccine will be ready and how quickly it will be able to be produced.
      AstraZeneca vaccine is the most promising as it can be mass produced quickly and cost effectively and can be stored in normal refrigeration.
      They can and are producing now and have capacity to produce 3 billion doses per year. So vaccinate 1.5 billion people.
      Plus the others like Pfizer, and more to follow.
      Does that mean fans in the stands in Q2? I am skeptical.

      • But Ray, the population on the planet is an estimated 7.6 billion. And if we are to believe a U.K. study that reveals Covid-19 antibodies leave a recovered person after 6 months and that that might mean two vaccinations a year, we’re looking at over 16 BILLION in year 1.


        Hopeful – but, like you, skeptical.

        LJ, got a big laugh at your “stitched into my comment enough caveats, provisos and maybes to feed a law office for a year …” – still chuckling – and I hear ya, believe me.

      • Negative George, you can spin it however you like.

        There is enough press and released information out there to be hopeful.

        George there will be a vaccine well before 2023.

      • I’m not spinning anything – I simply look at the world population (and the damned thing IS everywhere except maybe Antarctica) and the logistics involved in manufacture, distribution and implementation and draw my own conclusions. If some wish to hang their hopes on the efficiency of any government-run program, so be it. I don’t.

      • I’m more optimistic than you on the vaccination of the majority of the population George.
        The Gates foundation has been involved in vaccinating in poor countries for over a decade and has funded a lot of the research into the Covid vaccine as well as investing in increasing capacity. He was Fareed Zakaria on the weekend and is “optimistic” that next US Thanksgiving will be more like normal in advanced countries and that the next 6 months is the critical part until we start to get out of this. There will be capacity.
        Most advanced countries have entered into agreements on the proper allocation of the vaccine where the lag will be is in the poor countries who can’t afford it and don’t have the infrastructure to distribute it.
        He is funding a portion of that as well and his past experience helps.
        Impressive fella that Bill.

    • They aren’t going to extend the season too long because of the Olympics, so they already have an “end date” they are trying to back into.
      Re: vaccines, even if they are available in the next month or two, there will be a priority order of roll out (healthcare workers, elderly, high risk, etc.). I think it will be a year+ before the “regular Joe” is vaccinated to the extent arenas can be sufficiently opened.

      • Exactly my thinking Dave.

        The pessimist worries constantly about the pandemic. The optimist expects an immediate cure. The realist hunkers down

        I’m a realist to the core

      • What makes you think the olympics are happening?

        The uptick in cases and deaths that is actually happening vs a dream of vaccines successfully tested, manufactured, distributed and applied ,

        To date all we have are press releases with no data drop to the FDA

        All we have for now is wishful thinking and hopes.

  6. I guess some cling to denial as opposed to acknowledging the facts – or, as I’ve seen it put in equation form

    denial = what they think – the facts.

    Acknowledging the truth shatters illusions – like the Japanese authorities who still believe they can salvage the Olympics – in a country ravaged by the pandemic. Does ANYONE truly think for a fleeting second that any country with an ounce of brains is going to send off hundreds of their citizen athletes and support personnel to certain contagion? And forget having them all vaccinated by then. That is NOT going to happen in the time frame involved.

    Nor is an all-Canadian NHL division when every province is seeing massive daily increases in infections. Never mind the massively infected U.S.

    People should quit fooling themselves.

    What screws us up most in life is the picture we form in our heads of how it’s all SUPPOSED to be

  7. Curly Garrioch and Moe Kypreos say…lol

    Add Larry Brooks and Shemp Simmonds and you have the rotating 3 Stooges of the NHL media