NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2020

The proposed Jan. 1 start of the 2020-21 season in jeopardy, four Blue Jackets test positive for COVID-19, plus updates on Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the lack of progress over the last five days to draft protocols could jeopardize the NHL’s proposed Jan. 1 start date for the 2020-21 season. Well-placed sources tell Brooks of continuing adamant, widespread resistance among the NHLPA membership to the league’s recent requests to renegotiate the terms of the recent CBA extension to increase the escrow and salary deferral rates.

The league made those requests citing liquidity issues. While the players’ share of hockey-related revenue cannot exceed 50 percent, Brooks said the adoption of annual escrow caps combined with uncoupling the salary cap from actual HRR has ended the assurance of a yearly 50-50 split.

Brooks notes the 10 percent salary deferral for this season was to be repaid without interest in three equal annual installments over the final three years of the extension. He wonders if the players would be amenable to adjusting the agreement if the league agrees to repay all deferred money with interest.

The stalled negotiations suggest a 48-game schedule beginning the third week in January appears more likely. The NHL returned from the 1994-95 lockout on Jan 20 and from the 2012-13 lockout on Jan. 19. Brooks reports the league remains focused on playing in home arenas with or without fans in attendance despite recent positive COVID-19 tests among two NHL teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL was facing a tight schedule to meet a suitable timetable for a Jan. 1 start well before the recent lull in negotiations with the PA.

They need a 14-day training camp period in the run-up to the start of the season while last season’s seven non-playoff clubs were promised an extra seven-to-10 days of camp. Many players remain scattered across North American and Europe with those returning to Canadian clubs needing to self-isolate for 14 days. The players could also be reluctant to take part in training camp during the Christmas holidays.

The league and the PA were hoping for a Jan. 1 start in order to stage a 60-game schedule. If they cannot hammer out an agreement by the end of this week, they’ll have to push that start date to late January or early February and consider adopting a shorter schedule.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran believes the prospect of a new US television agreement next season brings the promise of the NHL playing this season. The current contract with NBC Sports expires at the end of 2020-21.

Playing this season means the league could enter into lucrative new deals with a diverse group of broadcasters and/or streamers starting in ’21-’22. That includes traditional TV networks like NBC, cable networks like ESPN and Fox, and streamers such as DAZN and Amazon Prime.

The effect of COVID-19 upon league revenues could result in a less fruitful bidding war than anticipated. However, McGran points out Major League Baseball just signed a seven-year extension with Turner Sports worth a 65 percent increase annually over its previous deal with the broadcaster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the saying goes, it’s all about the Benjamins. That’s one of the main reasons why the NHL and the NHLPA are keen to return to play as soon as possible. That’s why commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly believes canceling the season would damage the league’s long-term health.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets announced “several players” tested positive for COVID-19. Those players immediately began to quarantine and the club closed its off-ice facilities at Nationwide Arena beginning Nov. 16. This news comes a day after the Vegas Golden Knights announced four players tested positive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will be an ongoing concern for the NHL’s efforts to stage a 2020-21 season. Teams are following health and safety protocols similar to those in use prior to the 2020 playoffs but it doesn’t make the players immune from the coronavirus.

Edmonton Oiler captain Connor McDavid is training with Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in Arizona (NHL Images).

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid joined Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in Arizona earlier this month. The two superstars have skated together four days a week. They’ve been joined in recent weeks by several NHL players, including Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players have been taking part in informal voluntary workouts and on-ice training throughout North America and Europe in preparation for whatever format the ’20-’21 schedule will be.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said his players are waiting to see when training camp begins. He said it doesn’t make sense to bring everyone to Vancouver right now to go through a two-week quarantine, only to have them return home for Christmas and then go through another quarantine when they return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything’s in a holding pattern right now for all NHL teams. Because of the health and safety protocols, they can’t bring their players back in anticipation of a December training camp when they don’t know if that’s even going to happen.

OTHER NOTABLE NHL HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel believes the club did an “awesome job” with its offseason moves. Those include adding left wing Taylor Hall and centers Eric Staal and Cody Eakin.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault said he’s had no contract talks with the club and expects to enter the final season of his current deal without an extension. He said he’ll see what happens, leaving it up to general manager Marc Bergevin.

Danault clarified that he never said he wanted to be the club’s full-time first-line center but the two-way center doesn’t want to be placed into just one role. Pat Hickey believes the Canadiens’ offseason additions of Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson means Danault will likely remain with linemates Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault’s future with the Canadiens will depend on the development of promising centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. If they outperform Danault, this season could be his last with the Habs.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Daniel Carcillo recently told HBO’s Real Sports that psychedelic drugs helped him cope with the aftereffects of brain trauma suffered during his playing career.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets prospect Dylan Samberg was involved in a multi-vehicle accident in Minnesota that left him unhurt but sent four other people to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

TSN: The NHL is embroiled in a legal fight with several insurance companies refusing to pay most of the costs related to the league’s concussion lawsuit and the settlement reached with retirement players.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Former Blackhawks forward Fred Sasakamoose, one of the first Indigenous players in the NHL, passed away yesterday at age 86 from COVID-19. Sasakamoose played 11 games with the Blackhawks in 1953-54 and was a pioneer and role model for Indigenous and Native American players. Sasakamoose was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and received the Order of Canada in 2017.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes mourning the passing of nine-year-old fan Leighton Accardo, who passed away yesterday following a long battle with cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Sasakamoose’s family, friends and former teammates, and to the Accardo family and the Coyotes’ organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2020

The Canadian government clears the way for allowing hub cities, a CBA extension could be part of the return-to-play plan, plus updates on Seth Jones, Sean Couturier, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cites a Canadian Press report indicating the Canadian government has issued an order-in-council that would allow Edmonton, Toronto, or Vancouver to serve as one of the NHL’s two hub cities for its 24-team playoff tournament later this summer.

Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena could be among one of two host arenas for the NHL’s playoff tournament.

The order, which now awaits the Governor-General’s signature, would allow the NHL to work around Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine protocol for individuals entering the country. The league had to provide a plan that adhered to Canada’s public health requirements before the government went ahead with the order.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those three Canadian cities are among 10 in the running to host the tournament. Las Vegas is reportedly considered the front-runner, but it’s also believed the league prefers placing one of those hosts in Canada.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun cites a source claiming the NHL and NHL Players Association are attempting to negotiate the layers for Phase 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan while also trying to hammer out an extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

LeBrun’s source, who’s close to the negotiations, suggested the return-to-play plan and a CBA extension (or a memo of understanding for the latter) could be presented as one package to the players before the end of this month.

LeBrun also reports there are players with questions about such issues such as health concerns in their respective NHL cities, life under quarantine conditions during the tournament, and economic issues such as escrow payments.

Should the playoff tournament go off without a hitch, the Stanley Cup could be awarded in early October, with the draft and free agency beginning later in that month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A CBA extension (perhaps to 2026) would be a silver lining in the COVID cloud hanging over the NHL. Because of the effects of the pandemic upon hockey-related revenue, both sides must work together to ensure labor peace in the coming years. Given the limited timeline and the myriad of issues to be discussed, it remains to be seen if they can work out an agreement by the end of June. 

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports if an NHL  player tests positive for COVID-19 we won’t know what team they belong to. Instead, the league could simply say a player has tested positive. McKenzie speculates it could be part of a weekly report going forward indicating how many players have or haven’t tested positive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will raise questions over which teams those players belong to, how many of them could be sidelined, and the effect upon the proposed playoff tournament. 

McKenzie thinks most of the players understand the need to return to action is an important one but there is a vocal minority raising concerns. He feels a player could be allowed to opt-out of returning if he had strong objections of doing so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the league and the PA are believed to be working on opt-out language in the plan for players who don’t want to return. Friedman also said part of the pitch will be the quarantine bubble the teams will be under will be safer than in some parts of North America.

McKenzie also said a decision on the two host cities could come next week. The league’s preference is a home team doesn’t play in its own hub. In other words, if Las Vegas is selected, the Vegas Golden Knights could play in the other hub city.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the NHL has assured its coaches they won’t face any restrictions preventing them from doing their jobs. Those of a certain age or in an at-risk demographic won’t be prevented from being behind the bench. Health and safety protocols for coaches and their interactions with players are still being discussed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The coaches could be required to wear masks behind the bench and elsewhere in the facility. We’ll learn more details when the league and the PA release their health protocol plans for Phase 3 and 4.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defensemen Seth Jones (right ankle fracture and sprain) and Dean Kukan (knee injury) have been activated off injured reserve.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Luke Kunin knows he’s at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 because he’s a type-1 diabetic. Nevertheless, he remains focused on joining his teammates for the playoff tournament. “I don’t think it’s going to stop me from suiting up,” said Kunin.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov are among the Flyers that have taken part in small-group training at the team’s practice facility.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Goaltender Darcy Kuemper is among several Coyotes skating at Gila River Arena in preparation for the league’s return-to-play tournament.

TSN: Vancouver Canucks forward Nikolay Goldobin signed a two-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. He’s slated to become a restricted free agent at the end of this NHL season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL player Dan Carcillo is one of two former CHL players to file a class-action lawsuit alleging they were routinely hazed, bullied, physically and verbally harassed, and physically and sexually harassed and assaulted during their junior careers. This comes days after a former Kitchener Rangers player claimed he was forced to do cocaine in a team bathroom during his rookie season in 2016.










NHL Could Face A Reckoning on CTE

NHL Could Face A Reckoning on CTE

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 14, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 14, 2018

Game recaps, Joe Thornton reaches another milestone, plus updates on Tuukka Rask, Shea Weber, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Joe Thornton reached another milestone in his long career by scoring the game-winning goal as the San Jose Sharks downed the Nashville Predators 5-4. It was Thornton’s 400th career goal. Teammates Erik Karlsson also reached a milestone by collecting his 400th career NHL assist. Joe Pavelski scored twice for the Sharks while Filip Forsberg also tallied two goals for the Predators.

Taylor Hall’s four-point performance led the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo via NHL Images)

Taylor Hall factored in all his team’s goals (two goals, two assists) as the New Jersey Devils snapped a three-game losing skid by doubling up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. With just 17 points in 16 games, the Penguins have slid toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Two goals by Tom Kuhnhackl helped the New York Islanders break a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck tallied his first goal in 52 games.

Mike Hoffman tied a Florida Panthers’ record by extending his points streak to 13 games as his club edged the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Hoffman had an assist in the Panthers’ game-opening goal.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their third straight win by squeezing past the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Jeff Skinner and Kyle Opkoso tallied for the Sabres.

Six unanswered goals powered the Detroit Red Wings to a 6-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Mike Green scored and added two assists. With four straight wins, the Wings’ now have a .500 record with 18 points in as many games.

Earlier in the day, the Coyotes announced that defenseman Jakob Chychrun had agreed to a six-year contract extension beginning next season. The annual average value will be $4.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun, 20, is in the final season of his entry-level contract. He’s shown considerable potential over the past two NHL campaigns, though his injury history is a little worrisome. If he can stay reasonably healthy over the next seven seasons he has the all-around ability to become a reliable top-two blueliner for the Coyotes. Should Chychrun reach his full potential, general manager John Chayka will look like a genius for locking the young rearguard into a long-term deal for an affordable price. 

After having his 20-game suspension reduced to 14 games, Tom Wilson scored in his return as the Washington Capitals defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Dmitry Orlov also scored twice for the Capitals.

The Edmonton Oilers ended a four-game losing skid in grand style by thumping the Montreal Canadiens 6-2. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl led the way with three points each. The Canadiens did get some good news as sidelined captain Shea Weber could return from offseason knee surgery as early as late-November.

John Tavares extended his points streak to six games with a goal and two assists in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Nazem Kadri netted two power-play goals for the Leafs.

BOSTON HERALD: Goaltender Tuukka Rask has returned to the Bruins roster following a brief leave of absence to deal with a personal matter.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights have placed forward Erik Haula (lower-body, possible right-knee injury) on injured reserve.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault left practice yesterday with a lower-body injury.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks placed forward Marcus Kruger on injured reserve and recalled defenseman Gustav Forsling. 

CBS SPORTS: The Carolina Hurricanes sent forward Valentin Zykov to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on a two-week conditioning stint. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets placed Adam Clendening on waivers

THE SCORE: Former NHL player Dan Carcillo said he won’t opt into the proposed concussion lawsuit settlement between the NHL and NHLPA. “Carcillo, for his part, has decided to opt out, saying he wants the NHL to admit liability for failing to sufficiently protect the health of the league’s players.”

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2018

Results of the opening round of the 2018 NHL Draft, plus the latest on John Carlson, Paul Martin, Phil Kessel and much more in your morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres selected Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the first-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Carolina Hurricanes took right wing Andrei Svechnikov second overall, the Montreal Canadiens selected center Jesperi Kotkaniemi third overall, the Ottawa Senators took left wing Brady Tkachuk with the fourth selection and the Arizona Coyotes used the fifth overall selection to take Barrett Hayton. You can see the full list of the 31 selections by following this link. Rounds 2 through 7 will be held today starting at 11 pm ET.

Buffalo Sabres selected defenseman Rasmus Dahlin with the first-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were a few surprises among the top-10 selections. Hayton went much higher than expected while forward Filip Zadina dropped to the sixth overall selection and the Chicago Blackhawks surprised by selecting defenseman Adam Boqvist. Those moves saw a reshuffling of the projected order, resulting in the Edmonton Oilers landing defenseman Evan Bouchard (10th overall) and the New York Islanders getting blueliner Noah Dobson 12th overall.

There was also a notable lack of trades involving established NHL players in the opening round. Just prior to the start of the draft, the Washington Capitals dealt goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Colorado Avalanche for a second-round pick (47th overall). I’ll have more on the absence of deals later this morning in the Rumors section. I’ll have analysis on any notable moves later today in my Soapbox section. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said his club is really close to re-signing defenseman John Carlson, who’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Dealing defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado yesterday freed up $5.5-million of salary cap space, providing much-needed room to sign Carlson, who could get an eight-year deal worth around $8 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The interview period for potential UFAs to speak with other clubs begins on Monday, June 25. MacLellan obviously wants to ensure Carlson is signed before then. 

THE MERCURY NEWS:  The San Jose Sharks placed defenseman Paul Martin on unconditional waivers Friday for the purpose of buying out the final season of his contract. The move will free up $3.2 million of salary cap space to put toward re-signing other players or to pursue a free-agent talent such as the New York Islanders’ John Tavares or former KHL winger Ilya Kovalchuk. The Sharks will now have around $19.2 million in cap room.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan denied reports claiming he has a rocky relationship with winger Phil Kessel.  He said their relationship is one of mutual respect and that hasn’t changed in the last three seasons. Rumors claiming otherwise emerged following the Penguins second-round elimination from the 2018 playoffs, sparking speculation Kessel could be traded.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sullivan needed to make those remarks about a month ago when those Kessel trade rumors first surfaced. I daresay his comments will be treated with skepticism now. 

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars re-signed defenseman Stephen Johns to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2.35 million.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Vancouver Canucks re-signed forward Markus Granlund to a one-year, $1.475-million contract. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Tampa Bay Lightning won’t be re-signing pending UFA winger Chris Kunitz. They re-signed backup goaltender Louis Domingue to a two-year deal worth $2.3 million and hired Jeff Halpern as an assistant coach. 

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have agreed to a three-year contract with defenseman Samuel Morin. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings hired Dan Bylsma as an assistant coach. Bylsma was formerly head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. 

THE ATHLETIC: The Anaheim Ducks have parted ways with assistant coach Steve Konowolchuk. 

TSN: Former NHL players Nick Boynton and Dan Carcillo are suing the NHL, “alleging it failed to warn players about the long-term risk of brain damage from fighting.”

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2018

Penguins and Predators tie their second-round series at 2-2, Hall of Fame GM Bill Torrey passed away, Coyotes acquire Kruger from Hurricanes. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel scored twice and Matt Murray made 20 saves to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 4 to tie their second-round series at two games apiece. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored the winning goal in Game 3, was held without a shot in this contest. The series returns to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday.

Jake Guentzel scored twice to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a better defensive effort by the Penguins, who didn’t give up nearly as many odd-man rushes as they had in the previous three games. Guentzel, meanwhile, leads all playoff scorers with 10 goals and 21 points. 

P.K. Subban scored the game winner as the Nashville Predators held off the Winnipeg Jets 2-1, tying their second-round series 2-2. Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has a strong outing with 32 saves. Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine got his first goal of this series, which returns to Nashville for Game 5 on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators also did a better job tightening up their defensive play, which had been uncharacteristically sloppy through the first three games of this series. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES/NBC SPORTS BOSTON : Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos’ lack of production could be cause for concern. Meanwhile, Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk skipped practice yesterday for “maintenance days” but are expected to be in the lineup tonight.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning’s depth has thus far compensated for Stamkos’ puzzling offensive difficulties. At some point, however, his sputtering production could become a factor. 

THE MERCURY NEWS / LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL:  San Jose Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi managed to play in Game 4 against the Vegas Golden Knights despite being hampered by a lower-body injury. He’s still not fully 100 percent approaching Game 5. As for the Golden Knights, head coach Gerard Gallant could tinker with his lineup for Game 5 after his club was shut out by the Sharks in the previous contest. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes yesterday acquired center Marcus Kruger and a third-round pick in this year’s draft from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for winger Jordan Martinook and a 2018 fourth-round pick. The Hurricanes are also retaining 10 percent of Kruger’s $3.083-million cap hit. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember, non-playoff clubs are allowed to make trades during the postseason. The Hurricanes acquired Kruger last summer from the Vegas Golden Knights but he spent most of the season buried in the minors. He’ll get a better opportunity to return to the NHL full time next season with the Coyotes, who are in need of experienced depth at center.

Martinook, meanwhile, is a versatile checking-line forward who can skate at center or left wing who carries an affordable $1.8-million cap hit. He should bring some much-needed grit to the Hurricanes’ lineup.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski underwent shoulder surgery on Thursday and will be sidelined up to six months. 

Former NHL player Jeff Parker, who died last year at age 53, “had Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), researchers at Boston University told The New York Times.” Parker was among over 100 players involved in a class-action lawsuit with the NHL claiming the league withheld information regarding the long-term effect of concussion injuries. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks enforcer Dan Carcillo pledges to donate his brain for CTE research following his death. 

SPORTSNET: Former general manager Bill Torrey passed away on Wednesday evening at age 83. During his career, Torrey was GM of the Oakland Seals and New York Islanders and the first president of the Florida Panthers. Torrey built the Islanders into a dynasty, winning four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Torrey’s family and friends. He did a masterful job building the Islanders into a championship powerhouse, drafting Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies and Mike Bossy and acquiring Billy Smith and Butch Goring. They formed the core of their Cup dynasty.