NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2022
The World Cup of Hockey is expected to return in 2024, the salary cap could significantly rise after 2023-24, Phil Kessel signs with the Golden Knights, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the league and the NHL Players Association are moving forward with plans to stage the World Cup of Hockey in 2024. The intent is to hold the tournament during a 17-day window in February 2024 featuring at least eight nations with games played in North America and Europe.
Daly indicated the plan is to play a preliminary round pool in Europe and a preliminary round in North America, with the semifinals and the final held in a North American city.
There is uncertainty over Russia’s participation in the tournament. The NHL has suspended all business operations with that country over its invasion of Ukraine. That’s in alignment with the International Ice Hockey Federation suspending Russia from all international tournaments until further notice.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s decision not to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns pretty much guaranteed a World Cup of Hockey for 2024 thanks to the extension to the collective bargaining agreement. The NHL is also expected to participate in the 2026 Olympics.
It’s interesting that the league is willing to shutter its operations in midseason for a World Cup. One of the main reasons why they stayed out of the 2018 Olympics was the supposed unhappiness among team owners over “lost revenue” from a two-week pause in February for the Olympics every four years. It’s a different story for a league-run international tournament where they get the bulk of the revenue.
ESPN.COM: Speaking of Russian players, Daly said the league isn’t anticipating that they’ll have any difficulty obtaining work visas for the coming season. Russian players reapplying for visas encountered some difficulties earlier this season. Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov was twice denied entry to the United States before successfully returning earlier this month.
Several European players played without work visas last season after the NHL worked out an exemption with the U.S. Government due to the pandemic.
SPORTSNET: Daly also believes the NHL salary cap will significantly increase following the 2023-24 season. That will be a year earlier than previous forecasts. He said revenue projections for the coming season are very solid. The salary cap rose by just $1 million to $82.5 million for 2022-23
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cap was artificially set at $81.5 million for the past two seasons due to revenue losses caused by the pandemic. It is to rise by $1 million again in 2023-24 and was supposed to rise by another $1 million in 2024-25 until the players paid back their share of hockey-related revenue through escrow.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights signed Phil Kessel to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. The 34-year-old winger played the past three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, netting 44 assists and 52 points last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights needed some offensive depth among their top-six wingers after trading away Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov this summer in cost-cutting moves. Kessel could end up skating alongside first-line center Jack Eichel. He also needs just eight more games to set the NHL’s Ironman record, currently held by Keith Yandle with 980 games.
NHL.COM: Timo Meier said he hasn’t held contract extension talks yet with San Jose Sharks general manager Mike Grier. The 25-year-old winger is a year away from restricted free agent status.
Meier said he’s focused on preparing for the upcoming season. He looks forward to meeting with Grier and new Sharks head coach David Quinn when he returns to San Jose for training camp next month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Re-signing Meier should be Grier’s priority if he’s retooling the roster rather than rebuilding it. The winger enjoyed a career-best performance last season with 35 goals and 76 points in 77 games.
Meier’s earning an annual average value of $6 million but his actual salary is $10 million. That’s what it will cost the Sharks to qualify his rights next summer unless the two sides can reach an agreement on a new contract at an AAV below $10 million before then.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Alexandre Texier will not be joining the Blue Jackets for the coming season as per the advice of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. He will not be paid his $1.525 million NHL salary for 2022-23 and it won’t count against the club’s salary cap. Texier will be permitted to sign a one-year contract with a European team for this season.
Texier was granted an indefinite leave of absence from the Blue Jackets last March after being sidelined by a fractured finger in January. In a statement, he indicated that he’s experienced personal issues and challenges that require him to be close to his family. He expressed his appreciation to the Blue Jackets and their fans for their support and empathy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Texier receives the help he needs and can maintain his playing career either in the NHL or in Europe.
NEW YORK POST: Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho was arrested on Aug. 13 in Sweden for drunk driving and had his license suspended as a result. Aho blew .03 on the breathalyzer, putting him over the .02 limit. He was fined 40,000 Swedish Krona.
The incident occurred at 10:30 am after Aho and his wife had visited friends the night before. His agent, Claude Lemieux, said his client was surprised he was still over the limit by the next morning and is very sorry about the mistake.