NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 3, 2020

by | Nov 3, 2020 | News, NHL | 14 comments

An update on the 2020-21 schedule, Brendan Shanahan weighs in on fighting and hitting, the Sharks add a depth winger, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: reports ESPN.com citing sources claiming the NHL won’t consider anything less than a 48-game schedule if they’re forced to play a shortened schedule for 2020-21. A league source told Greg Wyshynski the ultimate goal is to end up with fans in the arenas. “I don’t think we’ll get to capacity, but I think we’ll have enough socially distanced fans,” said the source. The NHL definitely wants fans in the stands for the playoffs if local health restrictions allow it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL relies more on gate revenue than any of the other major North American professional sports leagues. The sooner they can safely get fans back in the stands, the better for league revenue and the salary cap.

Playing a full 82-game season starting Jan. 1, 2021, and allowing fans gradually back into the arenas over the course of the season is their apparent target. However, there’s also talk they could push that start date to February or March on a shortened schedule (48 to 60 games) if it would safely allow more fans into the arenas by then.

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan isn’t a fan of big hits that result in injuries. During an interview with the “SmartLess” podcast, Shanahan said, “I know people get pissed at me when I say stuff like this, but I don’t get excited to see a big hit. I get excited when I see a big goal…I don’t want to see any of these young guys on the ice getting carried off.”

Shanahan also believes there’s still a place for fighting if a player is protecting a teammate, but not if it’s to intimidate or hurt another player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fans who love that style of hockey will decry Shanahan’s comments, but the league’s been trending away from targeted hits and premeditated fights for several years. Shanahan played a role in addressing those issues during his tenure as the NHL’s senior vice president.

SPORTSNET: The San Jose Sharks signed winger Kurtis Gabriel to a one-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a two-way deal worth $700K at the NHL level.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers have hired Paul Krepelka as assistant general manager. A former player agent, he spent the past two seasons as senior vice-president of hockey operations for the Carolina Hurricanes.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings prospect Jared McIsaac underwent surgery on his left shoulder and will be sidelined five-to-six months.


  1. If their target is 82 games starting 1/1/21…. why is there talk of 48 and 60 games

    To me the 82 game schedule and getting fans in stands and cup awarded before Tokyo opening ceremonies (if they are a go) is a pipe dream

    48 games …. starting 1/3/21 with pro-rated Sals (48/82) to me; has more probability

    For the owners…. no chance of fans in stands in Jan…. so why not shorten and pro-rate and hope for fans ( at least some) starting in April with maybe 1/2 to 2/3rds by end of season

    By that time with some fans in the stands perhaps they re-visit the larger complement for teams to make the playoffs (play-in series).

    My over/under (sooner/later) date for season start is 1/2/21

    For those South of the border… wishing you the best on this Election Day

    • Looking to be more like “election month”

  2. If travel is an issue or if they have to do limited hub like cities, I think the NHL should consider having teams play one another like in baseball…2-3 game mini series. Limited games and play having mini baseball season like series might help fit more games or fans for them.

  3. I agree no one ever wants to see someone getting carried off the ice. Obviously contact hockey is necessary.

    Shanahan said he gets excited about a big goal. agree. I would say all fans do, but they also get excited about a big hit and it can change momentum of a game.

    can’t say in one breath you don’t like a big hit and then say you’re ok with fighting.

    • Without hitting – or the fear of being hit – a “big” goal would become more common – something like getting excited over a SLAM-dunk. Seen one – seen them all.

    • Good post, Caper, the thing I don’t get is why governments feel there is less risk if no body checking is allowed; anyone who has played competitive hockey at any level knows there will be a lot of body contact and close quarters throughout a game.
      The virus doesn’t know or care about bodychecking – it just does its thing when unprotected people are within its range.

  4. Can we admit that there’s a narrative of respect and caring for each other that didn’t exist in the fierce competitiveness of sport,

    Andy Bathgate deliberately hit Plante in the face with a puck….hello face mask.

    Keep your head on a swivel was second nature to avoid the big hit.

    Players would never turn their backs and face the boards, it was suicide,

    Fighting was always a means of protection and intimidation.

    Times have changed and while the game has become more “civilized” it isn’t as genteel as its made out to be.

    Less fights but more slew foots, less boarding but more skate blades slicing at ankles while angling the hit.

    Its a fast physical game that players will find a way to intimidate their opponents we just might not see it eg what goes on under water in water polo.

    • Don’t forget spearing which seems to be making a comeback.

  5. I respect Shanahan and accept that his comments come from a qualified, informed position. However, I can not help but rationalize the fact that as the TML GM, his team is not built for rugged play and it relies on a nucleus of skilled players for HIS team to be successful. One big hit during the season could derail their success? Talking out of both corners of his mouth?

    • This is an interesting perspective. Plus it’s also hard to hear this from shanahan. Not exactly lady byng material in his career.

      • 2489 pen min in 1524gp. A LOT of them big hits. Sort of a “do as I say … not as I do” philosophy. His successor as Head Of Player Safety George Parros – 474gp – 1092 pen min, (18g 18a 36pts – classic definition of a “goon”)

      • Yes there’s more spearing, pretty blatant during after the whistle get togethers, a lot more facewashing as well, in other words they are finding ways.

        Sometimes it seems like putting lipstick on a pig instead of recognizing that enforcers and heavy hitters are the fan and probably locker room favourites.

        I don’t see it as hypocrisy for ex-players to criticize aspects of the game they shared in.

        Enrico Ciccone , former enforcer and now an MNA in Quebec is trying to have fighting banned in the Q. He’s speaking from experience and the impact on former teammates and opponents.

  6. Can they do 82 games…assuming the start on Jan 1….

    A normal regular season from early October to early April is about 26 weeks. Whrn you remove holiday snd all Star it’s 25 weeks.

    That takes them to June 20. Playoffs don’t end till Mid Augest. When does 21/22 start..mid December?

    22/22 you have winter games.

    They need to have a plan to get 22/23
    back to a normal start time in early October.

    If they start mid January after WJCs. Thry could go to estly May. Have playoffs done in early July before Olympics. Then 21/22 starts in early nivrmber. And goes to late April with a slightly dhortrned 70 g schedule where 4 conferences 48 games inter conference snd 28 conference games 4 agsinst each team.

    For a 4.5 month season in 2021 over about 17weekswhere every team plays H-H against everyelse. No divisions, no conference. Top 16-22 in playoffs. Anything moreeould see a play inn round.

  7. 1 inch of energy absorbing foam on the outside surface of the pads would allow the hots to move people as today, but reduce the concussion producing rapid decelaration. A few microseconds of energy absorbtion would help players health, especially head health, without changing the game.