NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

Lightning edge Islanders to take 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final, Bruce Cassidy wins the Jack Adams Award, GM of the Year finalists announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Islanders winger Matt Martin opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it before the period was over.

This was a close-checking, physical contest. Lightning winger Alex Killorn was ejected early in the first period for boarding Isles center Brock Nelson, who left the game under concussion protocol but returned to action. Martin and Luke Schenn received fighting majors early in the second period. Martin and Pat Maroon received roughing minors later in the period.

It was a costly victory for the Lightning as first-line center Brayden Point left the game in the second period with an apparent lower-body injury. Head coach Jon Cooper said an update on Point’s condition could be revealed on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Islanders. They rebounded well from their 8-2 blowout loss in Game 1 and did a good job for the most part shutting down the Lightning’s offense until Kucherov struck in the dying seconds. They outshot the Bolts 13-4 in the first period and 28-21 overall.

However, the Isles couldn’t get more than one puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and failed to capitalize on four power-play opportunities. They now find themselves in a deep hole against a very talented club approaching Game 3 on Friday night.

Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins is the 2020 winner of the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year. He guided the Bruins to this season’s best record as they were the only club to reach 100 points, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for their efforts.

Julien BriseBois of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still targeting an 82-games schedule for 2020-21. However, he admitted the projected start date of Dec. 1 appears less likely. They’re also hoping to have fans in the stands when they reopen but can’t guarantee that’ll be the case. Daly also doesn’t think it would be a problem if the league staged games next summer, pointing to how well ice conditions held up in the bubble cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a miracle, next season won’t open on Dec.1. Or Jan. 1. And I have my doubts it’ll start on Feb. 1. My guess is we’ll see a shortened schedule between 50-60 games starting in mid-February at the earliest, with the playoffs running into late-July.

THE SCORE: NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire is no longer in the running for the Arizona Coyotes’ vacant general manager position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several folks on Twitter yesterday observed McGuire almost always seems to be in the running for a GM job and always seems to be the first one eliminated from the competition.

Meanwhile, Arizona Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan reports former Coyotes captain Shane Doan isn’t under consideration for the job. He cites several sources suggesting the club believes Doan, who works for the NHL, had a hand in the sanctions the league handed the Coyotes for violating fitness testing rules for draft-eligible players. However, there’s no indication Doan was involved in the league’s decision.

THE ATHLETIC: Dan Hinote is expected to join the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2020

The Lightning and Canucks tie their respective series, updates on the Avalanche and Islanders, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored his first goal of the playoffs in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 4-3. With the win, the Lightning tied the series at a game apiece. Blake Coleman scored twice for the Bolts while the Bruins’ Brad Marchand also netted two goals, including the game-tying goal that forced the extra frame. The two clubs face off again tonight in Game 3.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE A better effort from the Lightning in this contest compared to Game 1. They rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, taking their first lead of the series until Marchand tied it late in the third, and getting that big goal from Palat to tie the series.

The Vancouver Canucks tied their series with the Vegas Golden Knights with a 5-2 victory in Game 2. Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli marked his return from injury with a goal and two assists, Elias Pettersson also had three points, Bo Horvat scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back performance by the Canucks following their meek effort in a 5-0 loss to Vegas in Game 1. The return of Toffoli and his two-way skills provides a welcome boost to their lineup.

THE DENVER POST: Down 2-0 in their series with the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche need production from their secondary scorers if they’re to rally back. Apart from Nazem Kadri’s secondary assist in Game 1, none of their forwards beyond the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog has a point in this series.

NEW YORK POST: Facing back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, the Islanders could sit starter Semyon Varlamov for one of them. Varlamov’s played in every game thus far for the Isles in this postseason.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The NHL fined Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella $25K for his quick exit from his post-game video press conference following his club’s opening- round elimination by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tortorella answered just two questions before abruptly leaving.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella’s GAF factor (Give A F**k) was probably at zero by the end of that game.

NHL.com: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly isn’t ruling out the possibility of the league returning to action next season in divisional bubble cities but it’s not something they’ve necessarily considered.

 “I don’t think our current format for bubbles would work for the regular season, particularly because our objective is to play a full season and I’m not sure how we do that in the format we’re currently utilizing. It’s already a significant amount of time just to complete our playoffs in that type of bubble format. I don’t think it’s going to look like what we’re currently doing, but could it be a variation of what we’re currently doing. I wouldn’t rule that out any more than I would rule out any number of other alternatives.”

Daly said they’d love to be in the position to open on Dec. 1 with full arenas but acknowledged that might not be possible under the current course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Options could include pushing back the start date of the season or opening to partial crowds in all or part of their 31 markets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s intention is to stage a full 2020-21 campaign. Daly indicated they will be flexible and will keep a close eye on other leagues that open this fall to determine what works and what doesn’t. With 24 of the league’s 31 teams located in the United States, the course of the pandemic in that country will determine when the puck drops next season and how and where they stage those games.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2020

More reaction to the draft lottery results, updates on the CBA talks and hub cities, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Bryan Little, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman reports more than a few NHL executives were unhappy over the results of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, in which a yet-to-be-determined team eliminated from the qualifying round of the playoff tournament will win the first-overall pick.

Criticism lingers over the results of Phase 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery (Image via NHL.com).

Some of that reaction came from teams who felt they hadn’t received a definitive answer in advance about what would happen if the season couldn’t be finished. Friedman feels the qualifying round will now have more meaning and there will be a big audience for Phase Two of the draft lottery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conspiracy theorists already believe the NHL rigged the lottery to benefit a big-market club, screw over the Detroit Red Wings after their years of dominance, and to generate big ratings for the draft. These claims are, of course, baseless BS. 

Whatever the outcome of the draft lottery, it wasn’t going to please everyone. For every fan who feels it should’ve gone to one of this season’s bottom-feeders, like Detroit or Ottawa, some believe it shouldn’t reward those clubs for tanking the season.

Some observers, like the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, are delighted with the outcome as it gives a decent NHL team a shot at winning the first-overall pick instead of it going to a poorly-run club. However, that pick could end up going to a lesser-followed NHL market like Arizona or Florida, or a smaller market like Edmonton or Winnipeg, or a team that doesn’t need it, like Pittsburgh or Toronto. So there’s something for everyone to bitch about.

If the season can’t be completed, the eight non-playoff clubs when the regular season was paused will each have an equal shot (12.5 percent) of winning the first-overall pick. The rest of the order will be determined in inverse order by points percentage.

Friedman believes if Toronto and Vegas are named the two host cities, the Eastern teams will play in Toronto and the Western clubs in Vegas. “We’re overthinking this one.”

Regarding CBA negotiations, Friedman doesn’t expect a vote by the NHLPA membership will take place before June 30, pointing out it could take 48-to-72 hours. Some players and agents believe there should be separate votes on the CBA and the health protocols for Phase 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan.

Friedman’s also awaiting clarity on what the one-time 10-percent salary deferral will mean for the salary cap. Some sources believe it will give teams extra room, while another said it would be counted in the year earned. He also believes the NHLPA vote will pass but will be interested to see which players opt-out of the tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We already know Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak won’t be taking part. It remains to be seen how many others follow his lead.

The league is holding firm against non-NHL players signed during the pause (Montreal’s Alexander Romanov, Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin) taking part in the tournament.

Friedman also suggested the July 10 start date for training camp could be moved back by three-to-five days to allow time to get everything done. It won’t affect the start date (July 30) for the playoff tournament.

There’s some talk of the seven non-playoff teams having “games” sometime in the fall. Details are sketchy and it’s not a priority, but those clubs don’t want to be waiting until December or January to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: New Jersey Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald floated that proposal earlier this month. He indicated the team presidents and general managers of those respective clubs have discussed a pitch to the league to address their situation. Exhibition games among those seven teams are one option they’re looking at.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said his club is more interested in a deep playoff run than the possibility of winning the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s attitude will be shared by the other clubs in the qualifying round. The opportunity to win that pick will be a nice consolation prize for failing to advance, but those clubs will be playing to win. Nobody’s tanking it just for a 12.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league will fairly evaluate every relevant consideration before deciding on the hub cities. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the United States has some observers wondering what effect it’ll have on the league’s choices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Las Vegas reportedly remains a lock as one of the hub cities despite the spike in COVID-19 cases in that city and the state of Nevada. That’s prompted some observers to wonder if the league might look elsewhere. It’s expected we’ll find out sometime this week.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skated at the club’s training facility yesterday for the first time since the schedule was paused in mid-March.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Bryan Little won’t be taking part in the playoff tournament with his teammates. He’s still recovering from a perforated eardrum and concussion after being struck by a slap shot last November. He underwent surgery on his ear in March and said he’s feeling “pretty good” these days.

THE ATHLETIC: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi will take part in training camp after recovering from an injured spleen. He will be available to play in the tournament but it remains to be seen if he’ll be inserted into the lineup.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2020

Highlights of the league’s return-to-play plan, the updated draft lottery procedure, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCES RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN

NHL.COM: The NHL yesterday formally announced its’ return-to-play plan with a 24-team tournament to determine the 2020 Stanley Cup champion. the format was approved by a 29-2 vote by the NHL Players’ Association executive board on Friday.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

The tournament will open with a 16-team, best-of-five play-in round, while the top-four teams in each conference will compete in a three-game round-robin to determine their seeding for the playoffs. The 12 qualifying teams in each conference were determined by points percentage.

These rounds will be played at two hub cities, one for each conference. The candidates for those cities include Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Vancouver.

League commissioner Gary Bettman said the final selection of the hub cities and when play can begin depends on COVID-19 conditions, testing ability, and government regulations. For example, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver would be ruled out as hub cities if the Canadian government maintains its 14-day self-quarantine for non-essential border travel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Las Vegas is believed to be a “near lock” as one of the hub cities. NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger reported the U.S. Acting Director of Homeland Security has signed an order indicating professional athletes are considered essential workers. According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, however, the Canadian government has yet to determine if it’ll follow suit.

Bettman said it’s not required to have Eastern Conference clubs play in an Eastern hub or Western Conference teams to play in a Western hub. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated the league might not allow a team to play in its own city to avoid the appearance of competitive advantage.

Training camps could open in mid-July as part of Phase 3 return-to-play plan. Bettman estimated the games could begin sometime this summer and carry on into early autumn. Teams will be limited to 50 personnel in their traveling parties and will strictly limit the number of support staff.

Bettman stressed the health and safety of the players, coaches, essential support staff, and communities remain the priority.

SPORTSNET: Bettman said the 2019-20 regular season is considered to be over for purposes of record-keeping and awards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means the Boston Bruins are the winners of the 2019-20 Presidents’ Trophy. Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl has won the Art Ross Trophy (becoming the first German-born player to do so), while Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Boston’s David Pastrnak will share the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with the most goals this season (48).

He also indicated it hasn’t been decided if the winners of the qualifying round will be re-seeded for the playoff rounds, or if it will follow a bracket-style format. The qualifying round would be as follows:

Eastern Conference (standings seeding in brackets)

(5)Pittsburgh vs Montreal (12)

(6 )Carolina vs NY Rangers (11)

(7)NY Islanders vs Florida Panthers (10)

(8)Toronto vs Columbus (9)

Western Conference

(5)Edmonton vs Chicago (12)

(6)Nashville vs Arizona (11)

(7)Vancouver vs Minnesota (10)

(8)Calgary vs Winnipeg (9)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s formal announcement of the 24-team tournament generated plenty of buzz among hockey fans. While this is a step toward returning to action, plenty of potential obstacles must be overcome before this tournament takes place. As TSN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted, the league and the PA continue to negotiate about the location of the hub cities, testing, protocols, etc.

Responding to questions from fans on Sportsnet, Bettman suggested the start of the 2020-21 season could be pushed ahead to November or December.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reports this plan will cost the league tens of millions of dollars and involve 30,000 COVID-19 tests. Bettman indicated the league’s medical advisors said that by the time they’re doing that testing over the summer, it will be a relatively insignificant number compared to the tests that will be available.

The league stated a single positive test or several isolated positives during tournament won’t shut things down, but weren’t as optimistic in the event of a team suffering a COVID-19 outbreak.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One or two players with positive tests can be isolated, but I’m assuming that means their teammates would have to go into self-quarantine. If not, there’s a real risk of the virus spreading quickly among their teammates and to other clubs they’ve faced in the tournament.

THE ATHLETIC‘s Michael Russo reported via Twitter that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league’s position remains no contracts can be signed for 2019-20. However, the issues remain to be resolved with the NHLPA.

NHL DRAFT LOTTERY PROTOCOL REVEALED

NHL.COM: The league also announced the protocol for the 2020 NHL Draft, with the first phase slated for June 26. That phase will consist of three drawings and include the seven teams (Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, and Buffalo Sabres) that didn’t qualify for the 24-team playoff tournament, plus eight placeholder spots for the eight clubs that fail to advance in the tournament’s play-in round. The lottery odds for those clubs were determined by their points percentage in the final standings

Detroit Red Wings — (.275) 18.5 percent chance for No. 1 pick

Ottawa Senators — (.437) 13.5 percent

Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks, .450) — 11.5 percent

Los Angeles Kings — (.457) 9.5 percent

Anaheim Ducks — (.472) 8.5 percent

New Jersey Devils — (.493) 7.5 percent

Buffalo Sabres — (.493) 6.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team A — 6.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team B — 5.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team C — 3.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team D — 3.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team E — 2.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team F — 2.0 percent

Qualifying Round Team G — 1.5 percent

Qualifying Round Team H — 1.0 percent

After the first drawing, the odds for the remaining teams “will increase on a proportionate basis for the second drawing, and again for the third drawing, based on which team wins the second drawing.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy provides a detailed breakdown of how the draft lottery will unfold through each phase to determine the final placements. He noted this format will eliminate the possibility of the Stanley Cup champion also winning the draft lottery.

The Red Wings still have the best odds of winning the lottery, but there’s a real possibility the Senators, holding the second and third overall picks, could also win it. A club eliminated from the play-in round could also have a chance (albeit slim) of winning the lottery.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Depending on the outcome of the play-in round, determining those placeholders spots can get complicated. Kennedy’s breakdown provides a clearer picture.

IN OTHER NEWS…

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula announced Jason Botterill will remain general manager for 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rather curious timing by Pegula, given all the news coming down from the league yesterday. Coincidence? You make the call!

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights will unveil the new name and logo of its AHL affiliate on Thursday. Earlier this season, they purchase the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage with the intent of moving it to Henderson, Nevada.










Is NHL Biting Off More Than It Can Chew By Restarting Season?

Is NHL Biting Off More Than It Can Chew By Restarting Season?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2020

Discussions continue over a 24-team tournament format, several cities pushing to become playoff hubs, Canada-USA border closure an issue, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

24-TEAM PLAYOFF FORMAT

TSN: Darren Dreger reports there is concern within the NHL and the NHL Players Association return-to-play committee over the fairness of returning with a 24-team tournament that would determine a 16-team post-season. Under that format, the Montreal Canadiens (a non-playoff team under normal standards) would face a good playoff club like the Pittsburgh Penguins. “Should they be at an equal position starting at the play-in of the 24-team format?”, asked Dreger, adding this must be resolved before the two sides sign off on this scenario.

Pierre LeBrun reported constant dialogue among the return-to-play committee since Saturday. “The hope is for resolution over the next 7-10 days but no guarantee,” said LeBrun.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports multiple sources are claiming the remarkable reputation of Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price among his peers raised concern over the unfairness of facing him in a best-of-three series. He claims there’s growing support for a best-of-five opening-round would temper the impact of a hot goalie in a short series.

Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans and pundits consider Price past his prime, but the Canadiens goaltender remains highly respected among his peers. He’s probably not the only reason players and general managers aren’t keen for a best-of-three opening-round format, but he’s a good example of the concerns raised about the fairness of the 24-team tournament. 

NATIONAL POST: Michael Traikos wonders if a 24-team playoff format could become the norm following this season. Expanding the postseason would generate more money for the owners, especially since revenue could be lower next season because of the pandemic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expanding the playoff format was being bandied about by several pundits before the pandemic. If the proposed 24-team tournament proves popular with fans this summer, the league could consider implementing that format permanently. 

CANADA-USA BORDER CLOSURE AND NHL NEUTRAL-SITE HUB CITIES.

THE SCORE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly remains optimistic about the league’s plans to resume play despite the recent 30-day extension of the border closure between Canada and the United States to non-essential travel. “I remain hopeful that today’s announcement will not materially impact our return to play planning,” said Daly. Non-essential travel is considered tourism, recreation, and entertainment.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the league and the PA aren’t concerned about the border closure extension. They don’t anticipate playing games until mid-to-late July at the earliest. The league’s Phase 2 plan involves players participating in small group workouts on a voluntary basis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because the NHL is considered a business, I daresay they’ll receive an exemption from the Canadian government.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Alberta premier Jason Kenney believes Edmonton would be the safest place on the continent for the NHL to play. He points to the low number of COVID-19 cases in the city and the province, as well as the highest per-capita testing in North America. Kenney also touted the Oilers’ state-of-the-art arena and the local facilities to accommodate the players. “All of the services are right there to be safely integrated in a protected zone that would keep the players and staff insulated. So I think we have a very strong pitch to make.”

NBC SPORTS: California governor Gavin Newsom said pro sports could return in his state by the first week of June without fans.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild are interested in St. Paul becoming a host city when the league returns to action.

THE TENNESSEAN: The city of Nashville would also like to become a neutral-site host for NHL games this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several factors will go into determining which cities the NHL selects as neutral-site hosts. Ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved will be the priority.

MORE NHL-NHLPA HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Tampa Bay Lightning analyst Brian Engblom wonders what will happen if one of the players isn’t comfortable with returning to action and stays home.

“What if it’s a key guy? People are afraid and they have every right to be. If you have one player, and maybe he’s a real key player. What do you do? It’s a free country. That person is allowed to say no. These are unprecedented times. How can you make them do anything? What’s a team going to do? Are they going to fine them? You can’t, in my opinion. This is a person’s choice because of an unreal situation.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a fair point by Engblom. In all the reports about hammering out a return-to-play format, no one has raised what will happen if a player, especially a superstar, decides he doesn’t want to risk contracting COVID-19 and refuses to report. The players are under contract, but these are extraordinary times. If one star refuses to participate, others could follow his example, creating a potential marketing headache for the league and a contractual standoff between the players and their teams. 

TSN: The NHLPA’s 31 player representatives agreed to further defer a decision on their Apr. 15 paychecks until the end of May.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the league and the PA have discussed the possibility of extending the current collective bargaining agreement beyond 2021-22. The main issue could be a cap on escrow payments. Brooks said the players “are currently responsible for making up the 2019-20 carryover escrow next year. The players would obviously prefer to extend the payment over multiple seasons.” The anticipated escrow cap offer would be higher than 25 percent.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the current relationship between the league and the PA is the best he’s seen in his career. Much of that harmony involves the return-to-play committee, which includes Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr, and special assistant Mathieu Schneider, as well as notable players such as Connor McDavid, John Tavares, and Mark Scheifele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why we’re hearing so much hopeful speculation suggesting a new era of NHL labor peace could emerge from this current situation. Nevertheless, the escrow cap issue could be the major sticking point. Resolving that will smooth a pathway toward a CBA extension.

THE SCORE: The NHL is unhappy over teams signing players to entry-level contracts with “to be determined” start dates. The league made a rule when this season was paused that such contracts couldn’t have a 2019-20 start date, but some clubs hoped to use “TBD” as a potential loophole. The league isn’t allowing contracts with undetermined start dates to be submitted to Central Registry.

OTTAWA SUN: NHL players in the Ottawa area will be allowed to skate at the privately-owned Minto Arena after receiving approval from the Ontario government. Strict conditions will be in place, such as only five players on the ice at a time and maintaining physical distancing in the building at all times.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Goaltender Cory Schneider said he hasn’t given any thought to retirement and intends to complete his contract with the Devils. He split his time this season between the Devils and their AHL affiliate in Binghamton.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators winger Mikkel Boedker signed a two-year contract with Lugano of the Swiss league starting next season.

WGR550: The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly close to signing Jesper Olofsson, brother of Sabres winger Victor Olofsson.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes are close to extending their deal with PNC Arena to 2029.