NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2020
Ratings were down for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Lightning celebrated their championship in Tampa Bay plus the latest on Corey Crawford, Oscar Klefbom, Jesse Puljujarvi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
OTTAWA SUN: Michael Traikos reports ratings were down in Canada and the United States for the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
Rogers Sportsnet report 1.081 million Canadian tuned in for Game 1 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars, dropping to just 841K for Game 2. Traikos cites sources indicated Sportsnet drew 1.3 million viewers for Game 6 and never came close to eclipsing an average of 2 million viewers in the entire playoffs. The most-watched series was the qualifying round between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, averaging 1.8 million viewers.
The timing of the playoffs (summer), an absence of fans in the arenas, the elimination of Canadian teams and of big-market clubs, the absence of well-known players such as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and competition from the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays (whose ratings rose compared to last year) account for the low ratings.
The ratings in the United States weren’t any better. Only eight percent of the Tampa Bay market followed the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final with the Stars as their opponent compared to 15 percent in 2015 when they played the Chicago Blackhawks.
Overall ratings for this year’s Stanley Cup Final dropped 61 percent compared to last year’s Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues. Competition from the NBA, MLB and NFL, as well as the absence of big market clubs and household name players contributed to the overall US ratings decline. It was the least-watched Final since the Anaheim Ducks-Ottawa Senators Final in 2007 and only the second time in 13 years viewership dropped below 3 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given those factors, it’s not surprising the ratings were down. There just wasn’t that much buzz for a Stanley Cup Final between two Sun Belt teams. The ratings in Canada would’ve been much higher had a Canadian team reached the Final, and higher in the States had one of the big-market clubs got that far.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Speaking of the Lightning, they celebrated their championship with their fans with a flotilla parade up the Hillborough River through downtown Tampa and concluding with a celebration at Raymond James Stadium.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope reports Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman remains optimistic about re-signing Corey Crawford. The 35-year-old goaltender is due to become an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. All accounts suggest the two sides remain significantly divided on salary. The Blackhawks prefer something between $3.5 million to $4 million, while the Crawford camp prefers something between $4.5 million to $5.5 million. He made an annual cap hit of $6 million on his previous deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation the Blackhawks could be forced to make a cost-cutting move or two to re-sign Crawford. Maybe the two sides can come down to $4.25 million. Failing that, Bowman will have to go shopping for a goaltender via trade or free agency.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom is reportedly considering surgery to address nagging injuries that could sideline him for months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That might explain recent rumors linking the Oilers to Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, though that would be a very expensive long-term move to address Klefbom’s absence. The Journal’s Jim Matheson suggests Oilers GM Ken Holland could be in the market for a one-year replacement for a cap hit comparable to Klefbom’s $4.167 million.
Speaking of the Oilers, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports of possible progress in contract talks with winger Jesse Puljujarvi. He speculates it could be a one-year deal within a $1.25 million to $1.5 million range.
RDS.CA: Former NHL player Simon Gagne will appear in a Quebec City courthouse today facing impaired driving charges.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has agreed to stiffer penalties for fighting in exchange for $20 million in pandemic relief from the Quebec government.
Players who fight will receive a 10-minute misconduct along with a five-minute major, while the instigator will also be slapped with an additional two-minute penalty. Players who accumulate three fights will receive a one-game suspension, with an additional game for each fight thereafter.