NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2020

The league and several teams release statements against racism, Henrik Lundqvist talks about his future, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league released a statement sharing the sentiment expressed by their teams and players calling for racial justice and speaking out against “racism, hatred, bigotry and violence.”

 

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs released a statement on Twitter yesterday speaking out against racism. Leafs star Auston Matthews, whose mother is from Mexico, shared his thoughts on Twitter.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

As a Latino American it is impossible for me to understand and fathom what others endure,” Matthews said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have lost loved ones and who have endured pain and suffering due to hateful racist attitudes and beliefs. The world must unite not divide. We need to stand together in support of justice, love and peace for all. We need change.”

THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph hopes the protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis will lead to positive societal changes.

It is not enough to be non-racist and events unfolding today have proven that. But violent protests are not the answers or a good way to be anti-racist … we need to focus on the solution. On making a change in the way we educate children.”

DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.COM: Thirteen teams joined the league released statements yesterday addressing the nationwide protests and discussions over racial inequality sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. They include the Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals, and Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane called upon white athletes last week to take a stand against racial injustice. It looks like his message was heard by the league and individual players, particularly given the protests unfolding across America. Over the weekend, Sharks captain Logan Couture and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler also spoke out.

I daresay we’ll see more teams and players add their voices to a growing chorus of condemnation against racism, bigotry, and violence in society. Perhaps this also signals a significant step toward addressing those issues within the sport at every level.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist told a Swedish newspaper he believes he can still play a few more years in the NHL. The long-time Rangers starting goalie fell into a third-stringer role this season behind Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev.

Lundqvist, 38, said he understood the situation but intends to fight for his place in the Rangers’ net. He will become an unrestricted free agent next summer and there’s speculation the Rangers could buy out his contract. Lundqvist said he’s not thinking about that, focusing instead on his training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist will have an opportunity to win back the starter’s job when his Rangers take part in the 24-team playoff tournament set for this summer. A strong performance should put to rest any talk of a contract buyout, perhaps instead sparking talk of Georgiev hitting the trade block.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Terry Jones examines the economic benefits to the city of Edmonton if it’s selected as a host city for the playoff tournament, particularly in the Ice District section around Rogers Place.

TVA SPORTS: A Pittsburgh Penguins conditional first-round draft pick will be affected by the Penguins’ qualifying-series matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. The Penguins included a conditional first in the package they sent to the Minnesota Wild to acquire winger Jason Zucker in February. The Penguins could decide to hold onto their 2020 pick if they’re eliminated by the Canadiens, as it would be part of the eight placeholder picks in the 2020 draft lottery.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2020

Logan Couture and Blake Wheeler speak out against racism, Nick Foligno weighs in on players who feel unsafe returning to play, the league issues a ruling on 2020 conditional picks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA/TSN: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler are the latest NHL players to speak out against racism.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture (Photo via NHL Images).

Couture expressed his appreciation and support for teammate Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu, who’ve spoken out against racism in hockey.

Wheeler, a Minnesota native, spoke out against the death of George Floyd, whose death last week sparked riots in Minneapolis and across America.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse was credited with saving a local cameraman who was being beaten by a group of protesters outside PPG Paints Arena yesterday. Morehouse dragged the cameraman to safety before he was transported to the hospital. Morehouse declined to comment through a Penguins’ spokesman.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno believes NHL players uncomfortable about returning to play shouldn’t be vilified. He said he would understand if a player put the priority on his health or his family’s well-being during this pandemic. “If you don’t feel safe because of a condition or just a belief, then you have every right as a human not to return to play until you feel comfortable about it,” said Foligno.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players with medical conditions – such as diabetics like Montreal’s Max Domi or the New York Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko – could decide not to play if they feel their health could be at risk. Some with family members who’ve have or have had medical issues, such as Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, could opt out if facing possibly eight-to-ten weeks separated from their families.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL sent a memo to its teams dealing with the status of conditional trades for the 2020 Draft. A club won’t be deemed as having reached the playoffs unless or until they’ve progressed into the 16-team playoffs, and playoff games or rounds will only include those in the round of 16.

For example, the Vancouver Canucks’ conditional first-rounder to the Tampa Bay Lightning in last summer’s J.T. Miller trade converts into a 2021 first-rounder if the Canucks miss the 2020 playoffs. The Lightning sent that pick to the New Jersey Devils in February as part of the Blake Coleman trade.

If the Canucks defeat the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round of the 24-team return-to-play tournament, their 2020 first-rounder belongs to the Devils. If not, the Devils instead get the Canucks’ 2021 first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying round will be deemed as non-playoff teams.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL Players Association stridently opposes the league’s position that teams shouldn’t be permitted to sign players from their reserve lists to 2019-20 contracts so they can participate in the 24-team tournament. While deputy commissioner Bill Daly considered those players as “ringers”, Brooks noted no one had a problem with Cale Makar joining the Colorado Avalanche out of university last spring in the Stanley Cup playoffs, or Chris Kreider doing the same with the New York Rangers in 2012.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good point. If this has been going on for years with no complaint by the league, it doesn’t make sense to arbitrarily block it because of the change to the schedule wrought by the pandemic. As Brooks points out, it would only apply to a handful of players.

Brooks also reports the league’s return-to-play committee will likely be dissolved once the final details of the tournament are hammered out. Bracketing or re-seeding and whether the opening two playoff rounds will be best-of-five or best-of-seven are expected to be resolved this week. There’s been no talk of implementing new rules for the tournament or making full-face shields mandatory as a safety measure.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen believes Columbus has a good chance of being one of the tournament’s two host cities. He cited the number of available arena and training facilities, transportation, and the state of Ohio’s efforts to flatten its COVID-19 curve.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have parted ways with Mike Stothers, the long-time coach of their minor-league affiliate.

 










Pittsburgh, Columbus Best Bets to be NHL Hub Cities

Pittsburgh, Columbus Best Bets to be NHL Hub Cities

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2020

The latest return-to-play news, Evander Kane calls for white athletes to speak out against police brutality, and updates on Dylan Larkin, Cam Talbot & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): An interview by Joe Smith and Sean Shapiro with over two dozen NHL players from around the world reveals most don’t have a plan yet to return to their respective clubs during the league Phase 2 of its return-to-play format.

With nearly 15 percent of NHL players outside the United States during the pandemic, most have to work through visa issues, flight plans, and the quarantine program in their respective teams’ cities.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the “nuts and bolts of actual travel” has been left to the team and its players. Player agent Dan Milstein said the league is working with the U.S. Government on extending the players’ visas beyond their June 30 expiration to the end of the playoff tournament. The league reached out to the teams in March regarding player and coach work visa and green card status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Phase 2 small-group workouts at team facilities are voluntary. Most players living outside the US could prefer training at available facilities in their hometowns until their travel issues are sorted out. Phase 3, which involves a three-week training-camp period for the 24 teams participating in the tournament, is expected to begin sometime in July.

Jesse Granger reports sources are saying MGM Resorts International submitted a detailed proposal to the NHL highlighting its ability to host the postseason in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas is considered the front-runner to become one of the two host cities for the playoff tournament. It has the training, accommodation, transportation, and entertainment facilities to host the players and perhaps even their families during the tournament period. The local desert climate, however, could be an issue. Maintaining the ice in the arenas will be a challenge, especially in the early going when three games per day could be played.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane called upon prominent white athletes to speak out against police brutality against African-Americans.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (Photo via NHL Images).

 “It’s time for guys like (Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback) Tom Brady and (Pittsburgh Penguins center) Sidney Crosby and those types of figures to speak up about what is right, and clearly in this case, what is unbelievably wrong. Because that’s the only way we’re gonna actually create that unified anger to create that necessary change, especially when you talk about systematic racism.”

Kane praised his teammates for being supportive of his views. Sharks owner Hasso Plattner shared his support in a statement on Friday. Kane believes hockey’s culture, which frowns upon outspokenness, prevents his fellow players from speaking their minds and standing up for what’s right.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some athletes by nature aren’t comfortable with taking a public stance on social issues. In recent years, the NHL launched its “Hockey Is For Everyone” campaign “to provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, disability, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status.” However, that’s not the same as taking a public stance regarding those issues. It’ll be interesting to see how many NHL stars heed Kane’s call. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman intends to name a captain for his team. Dylan Larkin is considered the prime candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As he should be. He’s been the de facto captain for the past two seasons.

SPORTSNET: The University of Alabama-Huntsville’s hockey program was saved after supporters raised over $535K, aided in part by Calgary Flames goalie (and UAH alumni) Cam Talbot.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Vancouver Canucks have parted ways with scouting director Judd Brackett over a contract dispute. Brackett reportedly sought more autonomy over the scouting department. During his tenure from August 2015 to his departure, the Canucks drafted foundation players Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.

ARIZONA SPORTS: If play resumes this season, the Coyotes intend to return in their vintage Kachina jerseys.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes extended their lease at PNC Arena to July 2029.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should silence those occasional (and baseless) rumors suggesting the Hurricanes could be relocated to a “real hockey market”.

THE TENNESSEAN: Renovations to Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators, have been delayed.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 29, 2020

Sabres captain Jack Eichel grows weary of constant losing, four regular-season awards are handed out, the latest updates on the league’s return-to-play format, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EICHEL AND RISTOLAINEN TIRED OF LOSING IN BUFFALO.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (Photo via NHL Images).

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are growing weary of missing the playoffs. Eichel, a five-year NHL veteran who has yet to make a post-season appearance, said he’s “fed up with the losing”. Ristolainen, a seven-year veteran, said he’s never been part of a winning culture in Buffalo. Both players, however, praised first-year coach Ralph Krueger and his staff for the improvements the club made this season despite missing the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have been mismanaged for years, and it’s taking a toll on Eichel and Ristolainen. While I don’t believe Eichel will demand a trade in this off-season, his patience probably isn’t limitless. He could decide his NHL future lies elsewhere if the Sabres fail to improve over the next couple of seasons.

Ristolainen, on the other hand, could be playing elsewhere whenever next season begins. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.

FOUR NHL AWARDS WINNERS ANNOUNCED.

NHL.COM: With the regular season over, the NHL released a list of four award winners. Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is the winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s points leader (110). Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak share the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the leading goalscorers (48 each).

Bruins goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak share the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals (174), while the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for the best overall record with 44 wins.

UPDATES ON NHL’S RETURN-TO-PLAY FORMAT

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL told the NHL Players’ Association that Phase 3 of its return-to-play plan, which includes training camps, won’t begin before July 10. The league hopes to begin Phase 2, which includes small group workouts at team facilities, as early as next week.

TSN: Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top health official, said proposals are being reviewed from sports leagues (including the NHL) to resume play, but the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place for now. Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among 10 cities on the NHL’s shortlist of two host locations for its 24-team playoff tournament. Many NHL players are still in Europe and the United States.

Pierre LeBrun reports Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning suggested holding training camps in the United States because of Canada’s current border guidelines. Many players, such as Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and goalie Frederik Andersen, are working out in the US and won’t be in a big hurry to return to Canada and undergo a 14-day quarantine before they can resume training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The United States deemed professional athletes and their training staff as essential workers, making it easier for players in Canada and Europe to travel into that country for training camps.

Darren Dreger reports the NHL and NHLPA are negotiating to push the June 1 deadline for signing entry-level players to July 1. There’s also a debate between the league and the PA over allowing players recently signed to entry-level contracts (such as Montreal’s Alexander Romanov) to take part in the playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To no one’s surprise, the league is against it while the PA is for it.

Bob McKenzie reports Alexis Lafreniere, considered to be the top prospect in this year’s NHL draft, is considering all his options for next season. That could include perhaps playing in Europe if the NHL, AHL, or CHL 2020-21 seasons haven’t begun by this fall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If he does play in Europe this fall you can bet his contract will contain an out-clause enabling him to return to the NHL whenever the puck drops on the ’20-’21 season.

LeBrun reports the seven teams not eligible to participate in the 24-team playoff format can begin making trades with each other. He points out non-playoff clubs usually wait until closer to the draft to begin dealing, but if there’s a fit among those seven teams for whatever reason, they can go ahead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on this later today in the Rumor section.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers rookie winger Kaapo Kakko might not be able to participate in the playoff tournament. Kakko is a type-1 diabetic and has a higher-than-normal risk of contracting COVID-19. Rangers president John Davidson said they’ll listen to their medical people to determine if Kakko will be able to play.

SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported collective bargaining talks between the league and the PA are expected to ramp up enough for the latter to form a negotiating committee. Ryan Miller and Ron Hainsey remain active from the 2012-13 version.

Costs for COVID-19 testing during the playoff tournament could cost as much as $3 million.

Friedman thinks there’s a decent chance the tournament could be re-seeded following the qualifying round instead of going to a bracket format.

The New Jersey Devils are believed to be considering at least four candidates for their head coaching job. Current interim coach Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, and John Stevens, are believed to be in the running.

The Chicago Blackhawks could be making some cuts to the professional scouting department.

TSN: Player agent Mike Liut is advising any player who’ll listen to review their disability insurance before they return to the ice.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights announced their new AHL affiliate will be named the Henderson Silver Knights.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect center Josh Norris, 20, was selected as the AHL’s rookie of the year for 2019-20.










Five NHL Teams That Could Benefit By The Proposed 24-Team Playoff Format

Five NHL Teams That Could Benefit By The Proposed 24-Team Playoff Format