NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2020

by | Dec 18, 2020 | News, NHL | 46 comments

The seven Canadian teams could play all their games this season in the US, Henrik Lundqvist sidelined by a heart condition, Alexander Steen hangs up his skates, the Panthers sign Anthony Duclair, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the NHL and the seven Canadian franchises have been trying to work out protocols with the provincial health authorities but the latter has not yet signed off on them. The league’s preference is for its 31 teams to play their game in their own arenas. If that’s not possible, the Canadian teams could play in one hub city or play all their games this season in the United States. Seravalli said the league remains optimistic this can be sorted out.

Pierre LeBrun believes this information being revealed to the public could work to the NHL’s advantage, putting a little public pressure upon the provincial governments. If the seven Canadian franchise must play this season in the United States it would mean the end of the proposed Canadian division, forcing another temporary divisional realignment.

Seravalli also revealed the NHLPA wants to ensure the players decide whether they’ll receive COVID-19 vaccinations. He said it will be their choice.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the provincial authorities must be comfortable with the league’s health protocols, which are still being negotiated with the NHLPA. Future talks are expected with the health authorities at the provincial and federal levels.

Johnston indicates moving the seven Canadian franchise this season to the US would follow the precedent set by MLB and the NBA. The Toronto Blue Jays played their 2020 season in the US while the Toronto Raptors will begin this season in Tampa.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports the plan for an all-Canadian division this season remains very much alive. League and PA sources indicate moving the Canadian clubs to the United States this season is one of the last options.

One source indicated the Canadian COVID restrictions “aren’t the sticking points,” adding they expected that “everything will be resolved to mutual satisfaction. Another said the topic was mentioned but hasn’t received much discussion. McGran said the Toronto Maple Leafs met with Ontario officials Wednesday and have another on Friday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports the Canadiens are close to an agreement with Quebec officials allowing them to hold training camp at their practice facility in Brossard. Paul Wilson, the Canadiens vice president for public relations, said he was encouraged by Premier Francois Legault’s “enthusiastic” for an NHL return to action in mid-January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The initial reports of the Canadian clubs possibly playing all their games in the US this season generated quite a stir on social media, creating the impression an all-Canadian division was doomed. However, this doesn’t appear to be a fait accompli.

A heart condition sidelined Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist (NHL Images).

The league and the PA very much want to play their games in their home arenas. The difficulty seems to be coming up with protocols that will satisfy provincial officials. While this could still go off the rails, the league seems confident this can be worked out.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Henrik Lundqvist won’t be playing for the Capitals this season after all. The 38-year-old goaltender released a statement yesterday indicating he’s been sidelined by a heart condition for which he’s receiving treatment. Lundqvist signed with the Capitals as a free agent in October after being bought out of the final year of his contract by the New York Rangers.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Lundqvist’s condition isn’t life-threatening and not related to COVID-19. Given the goalie’s age, however, he speculates this could mean the end of his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist didn’t say he was retiring so it’s possible the future Hall-of-Famer might return in 2021-22 with the Capitals or another NHL club. Here’s hoping he makes a complete recovery.

The Capitals will place him on injured reserve for the season as they try to determine how to replace him. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Alexander Steen is hanging up his skates after being diagnosed with “multiple levels of degenerative herniated discs of his lumbar spine.” The 36-year-old began his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs but was traded early in the 2008-09 season to the St. Louis Blues, where he spent the remainder of his 15-year playing career. He tallied 622 points in 1,018 games and helped the Blues win the Stanley Cup in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Steen in his future endeavors. He became an invaluable core player and leader with the Blues. Because he’s not officially retired, he will be placed on long-term injury reserve. That will provide the Blues with some much-needed salary-cap wiggle room. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE SCORE: The Florida Panthers signed Anthony Duclair to a one-year, $1.7 million contract. The 25-year-old winger became an unrestricted free agent after the Ottawa Senators declined to send him a qualifying offer. The signing leaves the Panthers with over $6.6 million in cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair will be an affordable replacement for the departed Mike Hoffman, though he probably won’t score with the same consistency. The Panthers could make another addition but it remains to be seen if they’ll invest that cap space in a trade or free agency or promote from within.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the NHL is exploring the possibility of pushing the 2021 Draft to December 2021. The reason is most of the junior leagues haven’t begun to play yet because of COVID-19. Scouts are also limited in their ability to travel and scout prospects in North American and Europe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch points out nothing is set in stone and this remains a concept. However, I agree that it could make sense. Current health protocols are making it difficult to properly evaluate prospects during this season. Moving the draft to December would buy them time to scout those prospects if things return to some semblance of normal when next fall rolls around.

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks signed forward Justin Bailey to a one-year, two-way contract.


  1. Ahhhhh…. Duclair $1.7 M. 🤬😡🤬😡🤬😡

    I know there are tax advantages in Florida…. but per Gavin group…. $1.9 M in Pennsylvania gets $1.1 M take home (as does $1.7M in FLA))

    Jimbo you Mofo… you could have easily got Duclair …. #2 to WBS….. You are then over $2M in space

    3rd line of McC Duclair Poulin would have been great

    Wake up Jimbo!!!!!

    Congrats on great careers and enjoy retirement Hank and Alexander

    I would think at least Hank will take a non playing job down the road…and of course for Rangers….. advisory roll?

    Iowa Prince…. just guessing here that you are happy with the cleared Cap space? Hoffman on Blues??

    • I bet Duclair had to swallow hard before signing that whopping $50,000 increase over last year’s cap hit after turning down an increase of anywhere from $1,350,000 to $1,850,000.

      Re Washington, as I said late yesterday, Craig Anderson wouldn’t be a bad gamble for one short season on a PTO basis.

      Re Montreal: if Legault is restricting all public gatherings to no more than 8 – and only outdoors – between Dec 25 and mid-January – he’s going to be confronted with a lot of protest if he allows an exception to the pros during that span. How, exactly, does he justify that?

      They’re not all hockey fanatics in La Belle Province!

      • One advantage to signing in Florida for Duclair is no state taxes.

      • George, if the NHL follows its protocol of daily testing for teams and no fans in the stands for games, that would surely make things much safer and more manageable.
        Not a good environment in Quebec or Ontario right now but I can’t see how a move stateside would improve things.

      • I agree. But Legault, in his press conference, was adamant that his rules for Dec 25 to mid-Jan were rigid and that there’d be no room for infringement without fines. So, say, a group of 15 to 20 get together for some outdoor activity in that span, are caught and fined for exceeding the 8 limit … how well do you think that would go over with 30-to-40 pros gathering at some indoor arena?

        And I heard Ford say yesterday that his government is seriously considering following Quebec’s lead.

      • Lyle, you have to wonder if that was the reason he chose Florida’s offer over any others he may have received. Whatever he “saves” by going there still won’t come anywhere near what he could have made by accepting Dorion’s offer.

        And, if there were other offers, you then have to think they were considerably lower than that offered by Florida. It’s telling that it came down to this after over 2 months of free-agency.

        One good thing for Florida is if this smartened him up and, as a consequence, he gives them a solid two-way effort in any season that may emerge in the hopes of landing a longer, more lucrative deal next year. If he doesn’t he can pretty much forget about an NHL career.

      • Hi Lyle

        Yes … adv in the State tax…. but the lower the gross ; the lesser the advantage.

        As per Gavin group… he could have signed for $1.9 M in Pitt; and would have received that same take home (after tax) as he is going to get in FLA with the $1.7 M gross

        …. and he would be on a contender (Pens) and likely to have a better chance at higher producing line mates …. leading to higher production for him this upcoming season …. and then leading to an increase in his value (next contract)

        Pens need to have a 3rd line that produces…. and

        McC Poulin Duclair would be much speedier; and leaps and bounds (production-wise) above

        McC, Jankowski , and Rodrigues or Sceviour

        Jimbo asleep at the wheel again

    • As usual delusional … Pens have enough forwards who don’t play defense, last thing they needed was another in Duclair … stick to the Maple Loaves …

  2. Re ‘21 Draft possibly in Dec… would make things very interesting…. starting the season before the draft!!!!

    Less draft day deals ???

    Since 23 man roster in place by then, does a Dec draft almost effectively preclude any ‘21 draftees from playing in the season??

    Certainly all will be eligible for their countries WJC teams that will be chosen in/around that potential Dec draft

    • Pengy–Perhaps, your expectations for Sam Poulin are a bit high if you expect him to play in the NHL this season. He was recently nudged out of a position on the Team Canada WJC team.

  3. Duclair isn’t a replacement for
    Hoffman in any way shape or form.

    6th team in 7 years, he doesn’t bring enough to the table for anybody to want to hang on to him and groom him.

  4. The Seattle canucks
    The Houston oilers
    The Atlanta flames
    The Kansas City jets
    The Hartford Canadians
    The Cleveland leafs
    The New Orleans senators!

    Love it!

    (As a temporary thing).

    • That is very funny, Chrisms

      Merry Christmas Lyle (and to all fellow daily followers). Thoroughly enjoy your columns.

    • The Baltimore Senators would be more appropriate – they’re more familiar with that nickname in the region.

    • Replace New Orleans with Milwaukee…always thought that would be a good hockey market (I know it’s not as big as some other cities, but how do you not have an NHL team in Wisconsin!?

      • Have wondered that too, Marko. The metro pop is 1,572,245 – not huge, but larger than several Canadian markets and not that far back of Nashville (1,959,495) and Phoenix (1,572,245).

        Perhaps the fact they have never been mentioned as an NHL site is the fact they are only about 100k north of Chicago and perhaps that organization has no more desire to see another franchise that close to them as does Toronto want to see a team in Hamilton (or another one in the GTA),

      • I’d love to see more hockey interest from those in San Diego…but alas it is likely a pipe dream

        It is listed as 8th largest (by pop) city in the US; and 2nd in Cal

        Metro of $3.3 M +

        Re Chrisms list…. Leafs to New Orleans…. just for the melodic alliteration alone…..

        “Looooouuzianna Leafs”

    • Well done Chrism. I like it. As in the past the arenas will remain empty.

      • Ha!

  5. The issue is the NHL is dealing with 5 different provincial governments.

    I stated yesterday I don’t think the Jets should be allowed in their Arena until after the Jan 8th restrictions.

    The Provincial Premier of Manitoba has some of the toughest restrictions and he certainly be sending the wrong message by allowing anyone to gather regardless of their protocols.

    This isn’t a sacrifice for some and a pass for the rich.

    • I look at it differently and I’m OK with it. I know that the NHL and players want to play for their own financial interest, but I see it as also being a benefit to a large portion of Canadian society. Hockey fans, and there are a lot of us.
      Those of us who follow the rules we won’t be stuck at home watching another Netflix or HBO series and can watch some actual hockey.
      To me as long as there are stiff penalties for those involved breaking protocols and risking other folks health, I’m good and see the benefit for a large portion of society.
      How about a little joy in our lives that is safe and can be done at home?
      Folks could use a pick me up and the risk can be limited, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a bubble again for the first month. They did it once, they can do it again.

      • I started off in Caper’s camp, and am gravitating to yours, Ray.

        The restrictions are absolutely necessary but they are likely to go beyond a calendar year and have been not just an inconvenience but a real strain for some who are alone or who have mental health issues. For the rest of us, not damaging but sure a long drag.

        Sports gives a chance to cheer for something.

      • Sorry Ray, one set all rules for.

        A large portion of our society is Christian; therefore we should be able to go to church?

        Just because you’re a hockey fan, doesn’t give you more rights then the others.

        No groups, no groups.

  6. Canadian teams are desperate for all Cdn division since little or no gate they need to leech off the ratings the mighty Leafs generate to try to stay afloat.

    • Yeah, you’re right. They have been SO dominant with such a blazing history the past 53 years it’s a wonder the entire population isn’t buying Leafs memorabilia. Another unsolved mystery.

      How silly of us not to see it.

    • I’m surprised you feel that way Wendel.

      • Please keep this up. It’s stupendous

      • I’m also a big fan. For sure, keep this going.

    • Hi W17H

      We as Leafs fans covet a CanDiv as that moves the needle and almost assures Leafs of being back in the playoffs after missing last year

      Divs untouched (same as last year) and using historical qualifying rules for playoffs (top 3 each Div plus 2 WCs) …. and Leafs are in the bubble … again…. and must battle likely 4 Metro teams for the last WC spot….. as IMHO … on paper right now…. Bolts, Bruins, Habs are (as an entire team) better than Leafs

      So… Pengy, Pengy fam and almost all of Pengy’s friends (who are huge [and diehard] Leafs’ fans) …. are hoping and praying for a CanDiv


  7. Wendal, the comedy you provide is pure gold! Keep it coming.

    • It is sad, it is silly, is repetitive, it is unimaginative and it is excruciatingly boring.

      • Is that your stage name as well? I suspect the J is for Johnson. As for the L, I will let the readers speculate. Lol.

    • Pengy,

      Habs are a lottery team

      Bruins are a bubble team

      Leafs are one of the 4 elite teams along with TB, COL & VGK.

      • Hi NYR4. You go ahead and talk about the past. I think its more interesting to talk about 2021 and those are your top 4 teams without question.

      • While I hate to admit it I agree with Wendel on this one.
        He isn’t far off the Vegas odds either.
        In order – COL, VGK&TB, BOS are the top 4.
        Next group tied – TOR, PHI & WSH.

        I agree that BOS takes a step back. Father time is due. I like Philly and TOR to step up, but I think COL wins it all this year. I said that last year too however.

    • Thanks Raging! The key element of comedy is the underlying truth.

      George focus…focus George…the comment’s topic was about team interest and generating revenue. I suppose OTT doesn’t need the Leafs. They did have a number of near sellouts last year with their “Come dressed as an empty seat promotion”.

      See what O mean Raging?

      • It’s you that needs to focus Wendell. The fact that the Leafs continue to draw significant following – not only in the GTA but also within the bailiwicks of the other 6 Canadian franchises – speaks less due to any stelllar performance over 53 years and more to the average intelligence of the fan base which has to be somewhere in turnip territory for staying with (and attachment to) such continuous futility.

        I would venture that the vast majority of “rabid” Leafs fans have become so in the past 53 years when they have won zilch simply because, most 35 and over in 1967 are likely dead.

      • I can almost see the vein in your forehead, lol. Lighten up, have some fun Giorgio. Cheers.

      • Oh make no mistake – I get huge laughs at your posts – the problem is, I just haven’t yet come to a solid conclusion – one way or another – as to whether you are actually serious with those Leafs posts or, as I’ve stated before, you are anything BUT a Leafs fan and are deliberately inviting the ridicule that follows. Both are funny – but from entirely different perspectives.

        So, until I come to finally concluding which it is I’ll continue to respond as if you’re serious simply because that approach by you is the most hilarious.

      • Gold man, pure gold!

  8. The US has increasing daily deaths so how is it safer for Canadian teams to move down there even temporarily?

    There are more than 20,000 deaths a week, that’s twice as many total covid deaths in Canada.

    • Maybe I missed where someone stated the move from Canada by these teams would be related to safety. Pretty sure this is strictly related to softer covid protocols in the US.

  9. SO glad that Steen has a ring (and a new baby) with his retirement.

    Such a strong two-way player, and one of the best father/son combos!

    With Steen’s retirement, as well as losing Petro, Allen, and Boumeister, the Blues have a void in their veteran leadership group.

    • Hi Iowa Prince

      with the space…Hoffman on the Blues??

      • Hi Pengy:

        1st things 1st—let’s get Dunn signed!

        Hoffman is too rich for my blood. I love Granlund. but same story.

        I think that speedy Grabner or speedy Athanasiou would be cheaper options for a year.

        It wouldn’t shock me if Brouwer is signed and returns for a 3rd time–GM Armstrong is such a creature of habit. You heard it here 1st.