NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2020

The latest return-to-play news plus updates on Carey Price, Mikko Rantanen, Nick Foligno, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The NHL announced 26 players out of over 250 tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 of the return-to-play plan began on June 8. Fifteen who took part in small-group training tested positive while an additional 11 tested positive outside the Phase 2 protocols. All have self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. Over 1, 450 tests have been implemented.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league didn’t indicate when those players contracted the coronavirus or the severity of their symptoms. Earlier reports indicated most were asymptomatic, with a small number having a low-grade fever. We also don’t know how many of those players have since recovered.

Those numbers will increase as more players report to their NHL cities ahead of Phase 3 (mandatory training camp) on July 10. Health and social distancing protocols will be stricter in Phase 3, though the league won’t be quarantining the players during that period.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports a decision on the two host cities for the 24-team playoff tournament could come today. While the state of Nevada is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, Las Vegas could still be chosen as a host because it could have the best “locked-down” or “protected” bubble of the remaining candidates.

McKenzie also reports the league and the NHLPA appear to be getting closer toward an agreement on the final two phases of the return-to-plan plan and a CBA extension. A vote could come this week. July 10 is the tentative start date for Phase 3 but it could be pushed back a little with no effect upon the start of Phase 4 on July 30.

In a lengthy Twitter post, McKenzie pondered some possible changes in the CBA extension. He wanted to know if it would be 3 or 4 years or 3 years with a mutual opt-in/opt-out in year 4. He also wondered if there would be limitations on salary variance and signing bonuses, or opt-outs of the playoff tournament for players with existing medical conditions (diabetes, asthma, etc) or penalty-free opt-outs for those uncomfortable with taking part.

McKenzie points out the two sides still haven’t reached an agreement regarding bonus money owed on July 1. He also notes they must work out an international hockey calendar, but the Winter Olympics no longer appear a consideration.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the bonus issue is part of the CBA extension, the two sides might need a separate agreement on that, perhaps a tentative on to push the bonuses to the end of October as they did with expiring contracts.

Until recently, it was believed the players were keen to return to the Olympics. If that’s no longer the case it’s probably because the changes in the NHL calendar over the next couple of years and ongoing concerns over the coronavirus could make participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games almost impossible.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sean Shapiro reports the availability and location of hotels near American Airlines Arena played a major role in Dallas being ruled out as a potential hub city.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price returned to Montreal for the first time since the schedule was paused in mid-March.

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen skated with his teammates in Phase 2 training. Rantanen had been sidelined by an injured shoulder suffered in late February

Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer have recovered from their previous injuries. Sidelined defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, and Sami Vatanen could be ready to participate in the Phase 3 training camp.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said he and his teammates aren’t interested in the possibility of his club having a shot at winning the first-overall pick in the 2020 draft. “We play to win the Stanley Cup regardless,” he told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio. He added the No. 1 pick is management’s concern.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a silly theory floated by some fans suggesting some teams in the qualifying round could tank to become eligible for the second phase of the draft lottery to determine the winner of the No. 1 pick. They’re not going to endure Phase 3 training camp followed by a locked-down Phase 4 tournament isolated from family and friends away from their home cities while undergoing constant COVID-19 testing just to have a 12.5 percent chance at winning the rights to Alexis Lafreniere. Their motivation is winning the Stanley Cup and helping the league recoup some of their $1.1 billion in losses from the COVID-19 shutdown. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings canceled their prospect tournament in September and will conduct training camp for 2020-21 at Little Caesars Arena due to COVID-19.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The sports-marketing agency Wasserman expanded its pool of European hockey talent by acquiring Acme World Sports. Acme’s clients include Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen, Dallas’ Esa Lindell, and Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen.

VANCOUVER SUN/TAMPA BAY TIMES: Vancouver Province sportswriter Tony Gallagher has been honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for journalism excellence. Tampa Bay Lightning play-by-play man Rick Peckham received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions by a broadcaster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallagher and Peckham.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2020

Some possible regional neutral-site locations to reopen the schedule, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Quick weigh in on a possible resumption, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont reports a league source confirms Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of the NHL’s board of governors, is interested in having TD Garden become one of the four regional neutral-site locations if the season resumes in July.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen reports Las Vegas could be a fit as one of those neutral-site locations. Nevada isn’t a COVID-19 hotspot compared to other NHL cities like New York or the San Francisco Bay area, plus the city has suitable facilities to host and accommodate NHL players. However, it could lack sufficient rinks for training camps.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sean Shapiro believes Dallas will be high on the list of possible neutral-site locations. The area has suitable accommodations, training facilities, and a major international airport. Climate, however, could make it difficult to sustain acceptable ice conditions.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The league could consider Raleigh, North Carolina as a neutral-site city, but Luke Decock believes a lack of practice facilities would be a major obstacle.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Columbus, Edmonton, Minnesota, and Toronto could be among the leading neutral-site candidates.

Could Las Vegas become one of the NHL’s regional neutral-site locations?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the aforementioned cities have low COVID-19 numbers and less stringent social-distancing restrictions. Boston, however, is not among them. Jacobs is a very powerful league owner, but I doubt he’ll have enough influence to overcome the local health curtailments.

Meanwhile, Edmonton’s chief medical officer recently announced a recommendation to ban events of 15 or more people until the end of the summer. If approved, kiss that city goodbye as a neutral-site location.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated a single positive or multiple positive tests involving players or personnel wouldn’t put an immediate halt to on-ice activity. “Everything depends on the facts and the entire set of circumstances,” said Daly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Daly, local health officials will make that decision, not the league. If they feel one or multiple positive tests among NHL players or staff creates a risk of spreading the coronavirus to the local population, that city will shut down games in their location. If that happens, the league’s plan to resume the schedule could be derailed.

Former NHL player John Scott took to Twitter yesterday claiming NHL training camps will begin on June 1. He anticipates European players will be returning to their NHL clubs soon. However, SPORTSNET’s Eric Engels recently reported Montreal Canadiens winger and NHLPA alternate player rep Brendan Gallagher said on Wednesday that a resumption of the schedule in July has not yet been put before the PA membership for approval.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick believes netminders will need time to get back into form if the league resumes this summer. He recalled his own long recovery from a groin injury just one game into the 2016-17 season.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington teamed up with local businessman David Corbett delivered 2,000 N95 masks to Mercy’s Virtual Care Center in Chesterfield.

SPORTSNET: Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is using Scotiabank Arena as a giant kitchen to prepare 10,000 meals a day for Toronto’s front-line health-care workers, their families, and the city’s community agencies and shelters.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2019

Game recaps, three stars of the final full week of December, and more in the first NHL morning coffee headlines of 2019.

NHL.COM: Sean Monahan collected five assists while teammates Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk each had four-point performances (two goals, two assists) in an 8-5 win over the San Jose Sharks. Flames forward Sam Bennett could face supplemental discipline for a high hit on Sharks defenseman Radim Simek late in the third period.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan collected five assists in an 8-5 win over the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images).

The league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning extended their points streak to 15 games (14-0-1) by squeaking past the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Brayden Point netted the winner in overtime.

The Nashville Predators picked up their first road victory since Nov. 10 and snapped a six-game losing skid with a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Ryan Johansen led the way with a goal and two assists.

New Jersey Devils rookie goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood picked up his second straight shutout by blanking the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Miles Wood and Sami Vatanen each had a goal and an assist.

Three goals late in the third period lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Pierre-Luc Dubois (four points) and Zach Werenski each scored twice for the Jackets while Ryan Dzingel tallied twice for the Senators. The Jackets were playing without captain Nick Foligno, who’s on an indefinite leave of absence as his young daughter Milana underwent heart surgery on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to the Foligno family. Here’s hoping Milana makes a full recovery. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins collected their sixth straight win by edging the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Penguins winger Phil Kessel had a goal and two assists while Wild captain Mikko Koivu had a goal and an assist.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel suffered an upper-body injury during his club’s 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Sabres coach Phil Housley doesn’t expect Eichel to be sidelined for long. Isles goalie Robin Lehner made 39 saves to pick up his first win over his former team and was named the first star of the game.

The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, chasing Flyers rookie goalie Carter Hart from the net after he gave up three goals on 10 shots. Earlier in the day, Flyers forward Jori Lehtera was charged “for allegedly obtaining and possessing cocaine in his native Finland last summer.” He’s not due in court but Finnish prosecutors seek a five-month suspended sentence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtera previously denied any wrongdoing. The league is also conducting its own investigation into the matter.

Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 37 shots as the New York Rangers nipped the St. Louis Blues 2-1. Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk picked up an assist in his first game since being sidelined on Dec. 10.

Florida Panthers goalie James Reimer made 12 saves in relief of Roberto Luongo and two more in a shootout to give his club a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Detroit Red Wings. Luongo was pulled after giving up three goals on eight shots in the first period. During the morning skate, Wings defenseman Trevor Daley suffered a broken foot sidelining him three-to-five weeks.

Dustin Brown’s overtime goal gave the Los Angeles Kings a 3-2 win over the slumping Colorado Avalanche, who’ve dropped nine of their last 11 games. Kings captain Anze Kopitar collected two assists.

Phillip Danault scored two goals and Jeff Petry tallied in overtime as the Montreal Canadiens nipped the Dallas Stars 3-2. Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi made 45 saves against his former club.

Rookie Brendan Lemieux scored twice, including the game-winner, to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-3 win over the struggling Edmonton Oilers, who’ve lost six straight games. Leon Draisaitl tallied twice for the Oilers.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, and New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 30, 2018.

SPORTSNET: The NHL intends to announce today the Dallas Stars will host the 2020 Winter Classic. No word yet as to who the Stars’ opponent will be.