NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2020
Players are returning to their respective teams as negotiations continue between the NHL and NHLPA on a format for the 2020-21 season. Check out the latest in the morning coffee headlines.
TORONTO SUN: Joe Thornton reportedly departed Switzerland yesterday on his way to joining the Maple Leafs. The 41-year-old center played with HC Davos in preparation for a shortened 2020-21 NHL season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton is among a number of players reportedly returning to their NHL club over the last week or two. His return to North America is seen as another indication the NHL is making progress in its plans toward starting this season in mid-January.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings center Dylan Larkin is looking forward to returning to the ice with his teammates for the first time since the pandemic derailed the 2019-20 regular season. Larkin found it tough mentally dealing with the uncertainty over when this season would begin.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings are among the seven clubs that missed the playoffs last season. Those teams are expected to begin training camp on Dec. 31, four days before the other 24 clubs.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks’ proposal for a 14-day group quarantine of their players returning from Europe and the United States has apparently been rejected by local health officials. “Everything I’m hearing is that they didn’t accept the group cohort quarantine,” said general manager Jim Benning.
The Canucks presented a training-camp style plan where those players would practice as a group at Rogers Arena with a professional athlete exemption, traveling only to and from the arena and their homes.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the NHL and NHLPA announced Monday they are making progress toward a 56-game schedule for this season. He indicates the majority of players are returning to their teams, especially those in Canada whose players must quarantine for 14 days before joining their teammates.
The focus remains playing in all 31 arenas but Plan B is playing in hub cities. An agreement on a format will have to reached by the end of this week to meet the timeline to open training camps in two weeks’ time.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports the NHL Players Association’s 31-member executive committee could vote as early as Wednesday on a wide-ranging plan for the ’20-’21 season. The NHL Board of Governors would vote on Thursday.
An industry source tells McGran the two sides are working “around the clock on transitional rules and return-to-play protocols, and working to firm up agreements for logistical issues.” Another source tells McGran he doesn’t see any issue that could derail negotiations. “It’s just a matter of how long it’s going to take. I don’t see any reason not to play a season.”
Issues still to be sorted out include the timing for the 2021 NHL Draft and the expansion draft, new dates for free agency if the 2021 playoffs stretch into July, and rules governing cross-border trades.
NEW YORK POST’s Larry Brooks reports players are being told to expect training camp to begin shortly after New Year’s Day. Teams have been told to expect the season to begin between Jan. 13 and 16.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: COVID-19 is a pretty good reason not to play but the team owners and the players want this season to take place. With the NFL season ongoing, the NBA opening their season on Dec. 22 and MLB spring training slated to begin on Feb. 27, the NHL doesn’t want to disappear from the sports calendar. The owners want to salvage whatever revenue they can while the players need to get paid.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are expected to hire Cory Stillman as an assistant coach. A two-time Stanley Cup champion during his 16-year NHL playing career, Stillman has worked at the front-office level with the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. He also spent two seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.