NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2020
The latest on the NHL efforts to open the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13 in today’s morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports negotiations are continuing between the NHL and NHLPA on an agreement for the 2020-21 season to put to a vote by their respective sides by perhaps the end of next week. Ratification is needed as soon as possible for players on last season’s seven non-playoff clubs that require 14-day quarantines before joining their clubs in training camp on Dec. 31.
Darren Dreger indicates everyone involved in the process remains hopeful. However, there are club executives, general managers and players agents who are skeptical this can be accomplished for a Jan. 13 puck drop because of the work that still needs to be done.
Frank Seravalli noted there are as many as four or five teams that could be unable to host games in their home arenas because of local health restrictions. Playing in a hybrid bubble or hub cities with a two weeks in, one week out schedule remains an option if necessary before eventually rolling out to all 31 NHL cities.
LeBrun also reported there won’t be any restrictions on trades between Canadian and American clubs during the season. Players involved in those deals would be subject to whatever quarantine regulations there are in that state or province.
Regarding divisional realignment, LeBrun said the NHL is looking into making a few adjustments. The Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars are among the clubs that could be changing divisions. The original realignment saw the Wild in a division with Tampa Bay, Florida, Nashville, Carolina, Columbus, Detroit and Chicago. The Stars were to play with San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Vegas, Colorado, Arizona and St. Louis.
SPORTSNET: Divisional realignment is among the pressing issues to be resolved by the NHL and NHLPA before the 2020-21 season can begin. Playoff format, taxi squads, expanded rosters, exhibition games, training camps, bubble or hub cities and COVID protocols must also be addressed.
NHL insider John Shannon reported on Twitter the NHL is interested in securing COVID-19 vaccines when and if they become available for private sale. “The league is adamant they would not jump the line to do so,” said Shannon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That Jan. 13 start date could get pushed into late January or early February because of the complex issues that must be worked out. The course of the pandemic will also be the ultimate deciding factor.
The skepticism among some around the NHL is understandable. Nevertheless, the league and the PA have demonstrated they can reach agreements in a timely manner when it’s to their mutual benefit. It wouldn’t surprise me if they get this hammered out by this time next week.