NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2020

by | Dec 13, 2020 | News, NHL | 10 comments

The players could end up owing the owners millions of dollars by the end of this CBA, plus the latest on Braden Holtby, Nick Robertson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: During the latest “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman speculated the next round of collective bargaining between the NHL and NHL Players Association at the end of the current CBA could be affected by the players’ unwillingness to accept a higher rate of escrow and additional salary deferrals for the coming season.

Friedman noted the effects of COVID-19 upon hockey-related revenue means the players’ share for this season will exceed 50 percent. Under the terms of the CBA, the players have to repay any overage to the owners, but the 20 percent cap on escrow for 2020-21 means the players will still owe millions of dollars to the owners.

The players may feel vindicated by digging in their heels and forcing the league to adhere to the terms of the CBA. However, Friedman feels there’s a major bill coming due at the end of the current agreement that will be paid in large part by young players currently starting their NHL careers and those yet to come.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players were within their rights under the CBA to reject the league’s requests for additional escrow and salary deferral. But as Friedman also noted, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was right when he indicated the players could end up paying back more at the end of this agreement if they didn’t pay that overage during the coming season.

This could set the stage for another contentious round of negotiations as the extension to the CBA expires in September 2026. Of course, that’s not a front-burner issue right now given the push for staging a season in the middle of a pandemic. Rest assured, however, it will take on greater significance during the final two years of the agreement.

Perhaps the two sides can work out a deal that avoids another potential work stoppage in six years’ time. That will require considerable foresight on both sides.

I don’t expect Bettman and the team owners to just let this issue lie. Sure, they need labor peace right now to get a shortened season underway in order to fulfill their broadcasting and advertising contracts and prepare to entertain bids for a more lucrative US television deal next summer. They also want to ensure a smooth path for the Seattle Kraken’s debut in 2021-22. However, the NHL could raise the overage issue with the players again at some point within the next couple of years.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith lists his winners and losers of the NHL’s proposed divisional realignment for the coming season. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are among his clubs that benefit while the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks are among those that could suffer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams will be affected more than others by the quality of the opponents within their realigned divisions. Time zones and travel could also become a factor.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby said he won’t wear the new Indigenous-themed mask he planned to use this season following complaints that it appropriated aboriginal culture. “I just wanted to make sure I apologize to anyone I had offended,” said Holtby.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson won’t be joining Team USA at the upcoming World Junior Championship in Edmonton. The Leafs training camp is slated to open during the tournament.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Former hockey agency executive David Ludwig has been hired by the Arizona Coyotes as their new director of hockey operations and salary cap compliance.


  1. Mike Johnson on TSN did some potential math just for the 20/21 season. At year end when HRR is finally resolved via NHLPA audit & both parties sign off it could be over 300 million. Now the NEW uS TV deal will start to effect HRR after it’s 1st full season so added to HRR primarily following the 21/22 season but I would speculate the players will owe the owners over a billion, that’s right over billion dollars by the time the CBA expires and that short fall will be paid by players entering the NHL now & later! I said on multiple platforms the players can pay now or later and apparently today’s players have no issues with the fellow union members many of which have yet to even play in the NHL to pay for their greed.

    I wish the NHL had just postponed the 20/21 season due to the pandemic, an act of god covered under force majeure and port players contracts to the start of the 21/22 season. The NHLPA would have challenged the legality but lost.

    The NHL would have been better off as 5 to 6 years from now this is going to be a complete cluster F—k! HRR is 50/50 & the NHLPA has to make due eventually, pushing the monies so future NHL players can pay it back makes no sense to me.

    The CBA and MOU can be read easily on the NHLPA web site.

    • It’s a Christmas miracle!

    • Well Matt, I think “the NHL” did try to arrange a deal with a more upfront payment schedule, no?

      It clearly was the NHLPA who objected.
      So maybe you should address your comments that way, no?

      As was pointed out, the NBC contract had to be taken into consideration.
      As well other aspects, for eg the NFL and NBA playing right now.
      Maybe NBC would pay a lot less for a product that might be seen to have less viewer relevance a year from now?

      And Bettman up front has warned about the situation of kicking the can down the road. .

      The pandemic is current.
      Yet the current players, most likely the currently most highly-paid faction, have chosen to shaft their own brethren down the line.
      It’s called personal greed.

      Bottom line, I pretty much trust Gary Bettman’s judgement in a matter like this over your judgement.
      By a factor of several billion.

      Love him or hate him, Bettman has done a great job for the owners and the health of the League overall in the long run.

      I would argue that, although not perfect, he is by far the most influential commish this League had ever had.

      The guy is HOF material, in any sport.


  2. Holtby apologizing is another sign of the times we live in … PC world has white people walking on egg shells.

    • Its so bad that if he did a Klingon themed mask the Klingons would complain about cultural appropriation — I’d say don’t make a Klingn mad but I understand they are mad all the time anyhow.

    • I am white and not walking on eggshells, just recognizing that people deserve equality including respect. The government by the white guys has failed to deliver for over half the country.

    • Ed v I,

      I don’t think that “white” (actually beige) really has anything to do with it.

      Nevertheless, I do think you are correct as I have never understood this “cultural appropriation” business.

      Does this also mean that a musician, whose background is “Native American”, for eg, cannot play Mozart (Germany) professionally?
      Or wear a beret (France)?

      Can a poet from Zimbabwe not professionally compose haiku (Japan)?

      And on, and on.

      This all seems to me to be one of the more “frothy”aspects of the current PC “Cancel Culture”.

      imo we are heading, slowly and long-term, to a World Culture where aspects of all original cultural strands will be intertwined.

      I stand on my right as a human being to express in whatever fashion, myself, all aspects of previous human cultures, as long as I do so with respect.

      imo, this is the birthright of all humans.


    • “Cultural appropriation”… what a mountain of crap.

  3. if Keefe playes Robertson with Tavares and Marner he will score at a 30 goal pace (for a full season).

  4. Sometimes it seem people look for a problem where there isn’t.

    Most aboriginal people don’t look at a mask as a sign of disrespect, just the opposite.

    After living on 9 different reserves, I can tell you alot of natives were Blackhawk fans, some local teams dom the crest. It was never deemed disrespectful, now, im not saying everyone but I never heard it.

    My question would be why would anyone where something that they didn’t respect?

    Would you wear a t-shirt that said “misogynist”? Or imagine of something you didn’t like?

    Holtby if he wants could approach the assembly of Chiefs for BC and ask permission, if granted then wear it with that much more pride.