NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 9, 2020
More details on the plans to open the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13, the Flyers sign Philippe Myers, the Panthers’ expand their goalie coaching staff, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
MORE DETAILS EMERGE REGARDING 2020-21 NHL SEASON PLANS
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL understands that COVID-19 could affect the 2020-21 schedule. They are working on some empty days within the schedule to allow postponed games to be played.
LeBrun also indicates the league cannot go into a shortened season during a pandemic with the same rules governing roster limits. A proposal has been made to the NHLPA for expanded rosters indicating how many players each club can carry and “taxi squads”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a taxi squad is a group of players under contract with a team who practice with the club but aren’t on the roster. They are allowed to join the team if injuries occur. Taxi squads would address the difficulties of attempting to call up players from the minors during the pandemic.
The NHLPA held a conference call yesterday to bring the 31 player reps up to speed on the latest development. A conference call with the NHL Board of Governors is slated for today.
Darren Dreger reports there will be an opt-out option for players unwilling to participate in the coming season due to COVID-19. Mandatory vaccinations have also been discussed and agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA.
Frank Seravalli reports the Canadian teams that lack AHL affiliates in Canada (Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton) will use the taxi squad system to keep some players stashed in their home cities. The other four clubs plan to play their AHL affiliates in an all-Canadian division.
He also reports there won’t be any compliance buyouts to allow teams to garner cap relief by shedding salary without penalty.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Normal buyouts for players 26-and-older count against the salary cap as two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining term of the contract and one-third over twice the remaining term for players 25-and-younger.
Seravalli indicates local health authorities will play a role in determining if certain teams, such as the San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets, will be allowed to open the season in their home arenas.
It will take a two-thirds majority of the NHL board of governors to approve the plan for this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports indicated some owners would prefer not playing this season if they don’t get some financial relief to offset some of their losses from a shortened schedule. Speculation suggests they number around a half-dozen, which wouldn’t be sufficient to vote down the plan for this season.
The NHL and the NHLPA agreed to abide by the rules of the CBA, meaning the league has backed off from its request for $300 million in higher escrow and salary deferral from the players. The NHL might have to consider other options, such as taking out loans, to address that financial need for some of its unhappy owners.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan report the majority of the owners and players prefer a baseball-style three-game series. Hybrid bubbles or hub cities are a possibility to start the season, where teams would travel and play up to 10 games in two weeks and return home for a week.
Those hubs would be similar to those in Edmonton and Toronto during the playoffs but less strict. New Jersey, Columbus and Las Vegas are under consideration as those arenas have just one tenant, two sheets of ice and suitable nearby accommodation.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports clauses in television contracts requiring a certain number of games and/or weeks to fulfill obligations are a major factor in the sudden rush to start the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fulfilling those obligations will also help the league in its quest for a more lucrative US national broadcasting deal following this season.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW’s Adrian Dater tweets a league source claims training camp will open on Jan. 3 with the regular season opening on Jan. 13. “It’s not official yet, but this is what the players are hearing/being told.”
TORONTO SUN: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon told Lance Hornby a Canadian division will provide unique challenges for travel and broadcasting games.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens sports science and performance director Pierre Allard is telling his players to ensure they’re ready for the upcoming season. The focus is on ensuring they’re in good health and condition to avoid injury during a compressed schedule.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a concern undoubtedly shared by the other NHL clubs based on reports in recent weeks of players engaged in voluntary workouts and off-ice training to prepare for the coming season.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers announced Philippe Myers signed a three-year, $7.65 million contract. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That $2.55 million annual average value is a very affordable deal for the Flyers. Myers is expected to skate alongside Ivan Provorov on their top defense pairing. If he thrives in that role he’ll be in line for a more lucrative long-term contract in three year’s time.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers hired Francois Allaire as a goaltending consultant. He’ll be reunited with former pupil Roberto Luongo, who’s now a special advisor to general manager Bill Zito.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins minor-league assistant coach Jarrod Skalde has accused the club of violating whistleblower laws after he reported a superior for sexually assaulting his wife. The lawsuit claims then-Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin informed Skalde the superior was being terminated from his position but instructed him the reasons had to be kept quiet and not be let out. Guerin, now GM of the Minnesota Wild, denies the allegation.