NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2020

The latest on the return-to-play plan and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

PHILLY.COM: In the wake of Friday’s news of 11 NHL players testing positive for COVID-19 since June 8, Sam Carchidi wonders if the league’s return-to-play plan is worthwhile.

Why not just bag the season and start the next campaign after a vaccine has been developed?  The NHL would lose lots of TV revenue — estimates are around $500 million — but it would gain respect for putting lives ahead of dollars.”

Could recent COVID-19 tests threaten the NHL’s return-to-play plans?

Carchidi advocates a wait-and-see approach but feels the league should shut down plans to complete the season and look toward starting 2020-21 on time if virus cases balloon if/when training camp opens next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One factor behind the NHL’s plans is the concern of a possible second wave of the pandemic keeping arenas empty throughout autumn. Staging the tournament from August through early October in empty arenas would allow the league to recoup perhaps half of its estimated $1.1 bn in losses. It would also enable the league to hold its off-season from late October to the end of December. It’s believed they intend to stage a full 2020-21 schedule starting on New Year’s Day in hope social distancing rules ease to allow fans back into the arenas.

The course of the pandemic, however, could upset those plans. League officials claim a handful of tests won’t shut things down as they’re confident their testing, contact tracing, and quarantine arrangements could keep the coronavirus in check. The training camp period, set to open next month, will test that theory.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Sarah McLellan believes upcoming days will become more urgent for all parties to preserve July 10 as a viable start date for teams to reconvene. That’s when training camps are slated to open for the 24 teams involved in the playoff tournament.

An agreement between the league and NHL Players Association must be implemented soon to provide sufficient time for players to travel to their NHL cities. It’s unclear what effect the recent positive COVID-19 tests will have upon those plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league issued a terse statement on Friday acknowledging 11 players have tested positive under Phase 2. They also announced they’ll issue a weekly update of the number of tests administered to players and the results, though they won’t reveal the identities of those who test positive and what teams they play for.

I suspect the league will be pressed for further details as July 10 approaches. Recent reports suggest a comprehensive agreement between the league and PA could be revealed soon, perhaps by the end of this week.

VANCOUVER SUN: Ed Willes observed recent reports claim Vancouver is among six locales under consideration to become one of the two host cities for the NHL playoff tournament. He wonders if that’s a good idea for the city and the province after reducing their COVID-19 numbers due to strict social distancing guidelines. Willes doesn’t think it’s worthwhile for a tournament that will only benefit a couple of hotels and the foodservice industry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The city council and provincial government made the pitch for Vancouver as a host city, assured by the league’s self-quarantine plan that the influx of 12 teams won’t be a risk to the general public. While the benefit to the local economy appears minimal, the city and the province see it differently.

NEWSDAY: Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich was expected to arrive in New York yesterday after spending the scheduled pause in Russia. Other European Rangers, including Henrik Lundqvist and Mika Zibanejad, are expected to follow.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights rookie Cody Glass isn’t expected to be on the club’s roster for the playoff tournament. He underwent knee surgery in March and isn’t expected to be fully recovered when the tournament begins.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings dietician Lisa McDowell revealed she contracted COVID-19 in March, leaving her very sick for three weeks. She suffered a high fever for over a week, difficulty breathing, and bleeding gums when brushing her teeth. McDowell said she was rarely around the team leading up to the pause in the schedule and hadn’t exposed anyone to the virus. She recovered in early April and feels stronger each day but indicated she’s not back to full strength yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much is made about how NHL players could be less affected by COVID-19 because they’re high-performance athletes. McDowell isn’t in the same athletic class but she’s an accomplished runner. The virus could hit an NHL player just as hard.

NHL.COM: Martin Brodeur said he’s not interested in the role of New Jersey Devils general manager right now, even if the job was available. He told The Hockey News he’s happy in his current role as the club’s executive vice president of hockey operations and senior advisor.