NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 21, 2020
The latest return-to-play news plus updates on Joe Thornton, Braden Holtby, Anton Khudobin and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports Canadian NHL clubs could be affected if provincial borders close for non-essential travel. British Columbia premier John Horgan recently called upon the federal government to follow his provinces’ lead in discouraging inter-provincial travel.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadian teams are located in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and BC. The NHL is considering having an all-Canadian division for this season due to the pandemic as those clubs would have difficulty traveling across the Canada-US border with current restrictions in place. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he won’t force the closure of provincial borders. However, if provinces decide to do it themselves, he would support it.
The NHL hopes to start the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1, but its push for the NHLPA to accept further salary cuts could close the negotiation window. Hornby cites a source telling Boston Hockey Now’s Joe Haggerty a mid-January return was more likely as the players could object to training camp during the Christmas holiday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr reportedly continue holding daily discussions. The salary issue upset the players and generated plenty of headlines, but both sides have not released public statements on the matter nor have they been sniping at each other through the media.
Perhaps cooler heads are prevailing here or it’s the calm before another labor storm. Nevertheless, there’s a belief the two sides should be able to work through the salary issue. They’ll have to hammer out an agreement by Nov. 30 at the latest to maintain their Jan. 1 season-opening timeline.
An outbreak of COVID-19 among players for Davos of the Swiss League has sidelined Joe Thornton. “The whole team is in quarantine after five players, not known to include Thornton, tested positive the past few days,” writes Hornby. Thornton, who recently signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, is playing for Davos while awaiting the start of the NHL season.
Speaking of Thornton, SPORTSNET’S Luke Fox reports Davos general manager Raeto Raffainer believes the 41-year-old center’s experience, hockey smarts and leadership will benefit the Leafs in whatever role they choose for him. Thornton has six points in his first six games with Davos.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skating in a European pro league should give Thornton a competitive edge whenever the NHL starts up this season.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby had some difficulty getting across the US border into Canada with his family’s two pet tortoises. It’s since been resolved after securing the necessary export papers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things kind of slowed to a crawl for a while there for Holtby. See, because he has tortoises and they crawl and, okay, I’ll stop now…
NHL.COM: Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin is expected to be ready for training camp following surgery last month to repair a nerve issue in his right arm.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Bruce Garrioch recently reported Anders Nilsson is still plagued by concussion symptoms, putting his availability for the coming season into jeopardy. The 30-year-old goaltender’s been sidelined since suffering the injury on Dec. 16.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Former NHL winger Ken Schinkel passed away at age 87. He spent 12 seasons in the NHL from 1959-60 to 1972-73. His first six seasons were with the New York Rangers until selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1967 NHL expansion draft at age 35. He enjoyed his best NHL seasons with the Penguins, with three 45-plus point campaigns. Schinkel went on to coach the Penguins for parts of four seasons and held a variety of front-office roles with the club before joining the Hartford Whalers in 1989.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Schinkel’s family, friends and former teammates.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 19, 2020