NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2020

Players defer final paycheck by one month, plus speculation about resuming the schedule, next season’s salary cap, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported NHL players deferred their decision to draw their final paycheck of the season until May 15. The paycheck is worth around $140 million. It would allow more time for the league and the NHL Players Association to determine if the season will continue.

“Players have been debating whether to forgo some or all of the last paycheque to help escrow,” wrote LeBrun, who also indicated the players are getting their 2018-19 escrow return next week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canceling the season would cost the league around $1.1 billion in revenue, but those losses could be cut in half if the season is resumed in empty arenas in neutral-site locations. That will have an effect upon next season’s salary cap, as well as how much escrow money will be clawed back from the players’ salaries. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks has some interesting tidbits regarding the league’s plans to continue the season, including the possibility of playing in more than one NHL city spared the worst of the pandemic, whose COVID-19 curve tracks positively, and in a state where social distancing restrictions would be relaxed by the time the schedule resumes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Neutral-site games in cities/towns under the same conditions have also been discussed. I daresay the league’s preference is to return in as many of its markets as possible. As Brooks pointed out, however, the logistics of either scenario are daunting.

Brooks indicated there have been discussions between the league and the PA over extending the current CBA beyond its 2022 expiration date to stabilize the salary cap at its current $81.5 million over the next three seasons. It would reduce the players’ escrow burden. Resuming with a 24-team playoff schedule would generate around $350 million in broadcasting and sponsorship money, and between $450 million to $500 million under a full resumption.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of how long this pandemic lasts, its economic effects will be felt everywhere, perhaps for years. Considering the circumstances, it might be wise for the league and the PA to hash out an extension of the current agreement by a year or two. It could set the template for warmer labor relations that would result in longer-term labor peace down the road.

Brooks also reports there isn’t anything close to unanimity among the players over leaving their families for perhaps up to two months to complete the season and playoffs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the players’ health and safety can be suitably assured by the league, I doubt they’ll grumble too much about being away from their families for a month or two, especially if it helps them financially next season.

SPORTSNET: Taylor Hall‘s agent said the Arizona Coyotes haven’t made a contract offer to his client yet. The 28-year-old winger will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Coyotes have nearly $80 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21. Based on GM John Chayka’s recent comments regarding Hall’s contract, the Coyotes are waiting until they gain some certainty over next season’s cap numbers before making their pitch to the winger’s agent. It would also determine how much salary they need to shed if Hall re-signs with them.

TA3.COM: Boston Bruins forward Peter Cehlarik was told he was almost part of a deal at the trade deadline. Cehlarik, 24, has become frustrated that he’s not an NHL regular. He’s considered playing in Sweden, where he spent four seasons before joining the Bruins. The KHL is another option, as St. Petersburg holds his rights in that league. (Stick tap to Alexander Wirdzek for the link).

THE SCORE: Former Buffalo Sabres minority owner Larry Quinn criticized the club’s current parent companies recent mass firings. Pegula Sports and Entertainment fired 21 employees and furloughed 104 others. The furloughs are due to the pandemic, while the other cutbacks were planned before the NHL paused its schedule.