NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2020

Four more members of the Senators test positive for COVID-19, plus the latest on Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: Three more Senators’ players and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to seven people aboard the club’s charter flight that returned from their California road trip on March 12. The club indicated the five players and the staff member have all recovered. Broadcaster Gord Wilson confirmed a positive test on Friday.

League deputy commissioner Bill Daly said there aren’t any plans to test the entire Senators team. “Everyone who had symptoms was tested,” Daly said.”There really is no reason to test anyone else. No one is symptomatic and no one is sick and they all have been in self-quarantine for three weeks.”

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have been hardest hit among the 31 NHL teams by this pandemic. Fortunately, it seems they suffered mild symptoms and most recovered quickly.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres captain Jack Eichel is partnering with hockey manufacturing company Bauer to donate 5,000 protective shields to Buffalo area hospitals. Teammate Jeff Skinner, meanwhile, is donating $53,000 to a fund created by Pegula Sports and Entertainment to help frontline health care workers and others affected by the coronavirus in Western New York.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino will be ready to go if the NHL season resumes. Dumoulin underwent surgery in December to repair lacerated ankle tendons. Marino missed five games in March before the schedule was paused recovered from broken facial bones.

THE SCORE: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin said he won’t be interviewing coaching candidates during the NHL’s schedule hiatus. He’s happy thus far with the work of Dean Evason, who took over as head coach in mid-February on an interim basis after Bruce Boudreau was fired. The Wild are 8-4-0 under Evason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild are one point out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Guerin sounds like he wants to continue evaluating Evason before deciding if he’ll keep him on the job or seek a full-time replacement.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The play of Jonathan Bernier, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Robby Fabbri was among the pleasant surprises in an otherwise disappointing season for the Red Wings.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The ECHL and Professional Hockey Players’ Association announced a relief fund to help the league’s players and their families left without salaries following the cancellation of the season.

 

 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2020

A second Senators player tests positive for COVID-19, plus the latest on Shea Weber, Johnny Boychuk, Jacob Markstrom and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: A second Senators player tested positive for COVID-19 and is in self-isolation. He was among 52 people on board the club’s charter flight through California during their road trip from March 6 to 12. Eight of them have been tested thus far. Both Senators are the only NHL players to test positive thus far.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Half of the NBA and NHL coronavirus cases are linked to Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kings.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks report none of their players possess coronavirus symptoms or have been tested for the virus. In a statement, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson explained the club felt it was important to ensure those tests are available in the local community to those in the highest risk groups and those displaying symptoms.

Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber (Photo via NHL Images).

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Canadiens captain Shea Weber recorded a message on behalf of the Quebec government aimed at informing English-speaking seniors in the province to practice good hygiene during this time of pandemic.

ESPN.COM: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said defenseman Johnny Boychuk will return to action when the NHL schedule resumes. Boychuk was sidelined on March 2 after receiving 90 facial stitches when he was accidentally struck by a skate blade in a game against the Canadiens.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said goaltender Jacob Markstrom has fully recovered from his knee surgery.

TSN: NHL owners will have a conference call on Monday to discussion the league’s financial situation, including escrow.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites a source claiming the NHLPA held a conference call Friday in which the players essentially decide to defer a decision on how to handle their upcoming escrow losses until a verdict is rendered on the season. The league informed the PA that cancellation of the season could mean losses of up to $1 billion, equating to escrow losses of up to 35 percent per player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the league and the players are open to all options to salvage what’s left of the season. Nevertheless, they’ll still face significant losses. A lot of hockey fans will be adversely affected by this pandemic, leaving many without jobs or reduced income once this crisis has passed. They’re not going to spend it going to NHL games, where the fan cost index averages USD 424.62 for a family of four.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the 2020 Men’s World Championships are canceled. The tournament was to be staged in Switzerland in May.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Boston Bruins ownership announced a $1.5 million fund to aid part-time TD Garden employees if the Bruins remaining six homes games are postponed or cancelled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins faced growing criticism as the last team to unveil a plan to assist their part-time employees. The news received mixed reviews from TD Garden employees. Some were happy to hear the news, some felt ownership had to be shamed into doing something, while others are wondering when they’ll start to see the funding.

CALGARY SUN: The Calgary Flames Foundation will donate $1.15 million as part of a COVID-19 community support program.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: With their season cancelled, ECHL players have been left in the financial lurch. The minor-league Professional Hockey Players Association is starting a relief fund to help those players cover their expenses.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 15, 2020

The latest league news, how some teams are looking after its arena workers affected by the pause in the schedule, how this unexpected break will help several banged-up rosters, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

 

 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the NHL will do whatever it takes to return to action and award a Stanley Cup champion this season, even if it means playing just a shortened playoff schedule without spectators. Doing so would allow the league to at least collect media-rights fees from broadcasting those games,

Will the NHL award the Stanley Cup this season?

If the season is canceled, the full 2020-21 season will proceed as usual, though the 2020 NHL Draft could become a teleconference affair. Buyouts and free agency would continue as normal, though the league and the NHL Players Association would have to agree to an artificial salary cap. If the number is the same as last season or lower, amnesty buyouts might have to be implemented to make the system work.

Should the league return to action and the playoffs extend into July, next season’s schedule will have to change, as will the dates for contract buyouts, free agency and the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rules regarding trades aren’t mentioned, but if the league returns to action in May or even June, I expect they’ll follow the usual off-season template. In other words, no trades over the rest of the regular season. When the post-season starts, non-playoff clubs will be allowed to make trades with each other, followed by clubs that are eliminated from post-season play. Once the playoffs are finished, everyone can get trade freely, though they’ll likely all wait until the salary cap for next season is determined.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks are joining several NHL clubs in ensuring its arena staff adversely affected by the postponement of the NHL schedule receive compensation.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula are also ensuring their arena staff continues to be paid. They’re also having their staff work from home if possible.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has committed to relief for his arena’s part-time employees. “They’re pulling together who works consistently, how many games are we actually going to miss,” Dundon said. “We’ll do something, though.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins parent company is “actively exploring support options” for their associates (arena employees). Meanwhile, several Bruins players have donated to a GoFundMe campaign to support TD Garden employees affected by the schedule postponement.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers announced plans to help its employees make up the difference between their regular salaries and what employment insurance covers. The Calgary Flames, however, indicated it won’t assist their part-time, hourly, and event staff who will be underemployed during the suspension of the NHL season.

 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets ownership is doubling down on its decision not to pay their staff affected by the schedule shutdown.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a good look for the Jets during a pandemic. The club’s billionaire owner could easily afford to compensate those workers. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any significant backlash.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The pause in the NHL schedule could help the banged-up Blue Jackets get some players back in time for when (if?) play resumes this season. Among the sidelined are Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson, and Oliver Bjorkstand.

DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche could also benefit from this layoff. “Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Matt Calvert all were on “mid-March” return schedules, and superstar center Nathan MacKinnon is already a week into his projected one- to two-week absence.”

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks could also have a healthier roster if the league resumes play in a few weeks. Their sidelined players include Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev and Jay Beagle.

SPORTSNET: The ECHL canceled the remainder of their season and playoffs.

NBC SPORTS: Jokerit has pulled out of the KHL playoffs over coronavirus concerns.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2020

What next for the NHL in the wake of pausing the season over coronavirus concerns? What could be the effect upon the playoff race and the off-season? Check out the latest in today’s morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league had been closely monitoring what was going on regarding the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus before its decision to pause the schedule. He admitted the NBA having a player test positive and forcing the cancellation of a game left him no doubt this would be a game-changer.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman remains hopeful of resuming the remainder of this season (Photo via NHL.com).

Bettman said he’s hesitant to use the word “suspension”, remaining hopeful the season will resume at some point. He’s not sure how far it could push the schedule into the summer. The league is taking a day-to-day approach for now.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll depend upon how long before the spread of the virus is significantly slowed or contained. TSN’s Frank Seravalli cited an NHL governor telling colleague Darren Dreger the league is focused for now on returning to action within three weeks, but that will depend upon the players’ health, how many (if any) contracted the virus, and recommendations from the health community.

THE SCORE: The playoff picture, the ripple effect upon the off-season schedule, and the salary cap are the major storylines to monitor as the NHL pauses the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule over coronavirus concerns.

Depending on when the league returns to action, it could pick up its schedule where it left off, play an abbreviated number of games to begin the playoffs closer to the starting date, or cancel the rest of the regular season and opt for a wild-card play-in or beginning the postseason based on the standings at the time the regular season was paused.

It could also affect the dates when the league stages its annual prospect combine and draft in June. The annual July 1 start date for free agency could also change. Next season’s salary cap could remain closer to this season’s $81.5 million rather than reach the projected range of $84 million to $88 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I daresay the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, slated for April 9, will move to a different date later in the spring. 

NEW YORK POST: Teams are standing pat with no practices or meetings. That could change if they think they’ll start playing games again.

Most teams intend to deal with their ticket holders individually. Most could be willing to transfer those tickets to next season.

If the players are still paid during the hiatus, they could end up giving it all back via escrow to ensure the 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue with team owners. As for hourly workers at arenas, individual teams could examine some form of compensation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Toronto Maple Leafs (via Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) and Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley announced they’ll look after their arena staff during this period. I expect the other clubs either have a plan in place for their respective personnel or are working on one.

ESPN.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it’s a team-by-team thing for testing players for COVID-19. “Testing kits are controlled by local health, and each state is allocated different amounts based on population and experience. At this point, the need for testing is greater than the supply of tests. That will start to change as manufacturers are ramping up production.”

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks announced a part-time employee at SAP Center in San Jose tested positive for the coronavirus. The individual is under self-quarantine and receiving care from medical personnel.

SPORTSNET: The International Ice Hockey Federation is considering cancelling the Men’s World Championships. The 16-team tournament is set to begin on May 8.

NBC SPORTS: The AHL, ECHL, and CHL are following the NHL’s lead and pausing their schedules.

THE SCORE: Despite the interruption in the schedule, New York Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux will have a hearing today for interfering Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi during Wednesday night’s contest.

CALGARY SUN: Long-time Flames executive Ken King passed away at age 68. He was team president and chief executive officer for many years beginning in 2001, and until recently played a role in securing a deal for a new arena in downtown Calgary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to King’s family, friends, and the Flames’ organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2019

An update on Phil Kessel plus the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE SCORE: Phil Kessel is hoping to bring more than scoring to the Arizona Coyotes. He’s also hoping to take on a leadership role with the club.  “I haven’t really got to have that in my career. I think it’s going to be great. I’m going to do whatever I can to help these guys win and help them improve. (If) the young guys have questions or anything they want to talk about, I’m there to talk about it. Try to get our team better and them better.”

Phil Kessel hopes to take on a leadership role with the Arizona Coyotes (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During Kessel’s latter years with the Toronto Maple Leafs he was expected to become more of a leader. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out well. By his own admission, he’s a quiet person and not a “rah-rah guy.”

Kessel’s critics will scoff but he could be an effective leader with the rebuilding Coyotes. He’s now 31 and more mature than he was during his Leafs days. He’s also got more playoff seasoning and now in a market where the spotlight is considerably less harsh compared to his previous NHL stops.

NBC SPORTS: The New York Rangers avoided arbitration with Pavel Buchnevich, re-siging the winger to a two-year, $6.5 million contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.25 million. Cap Friendly indicates the Rangers are above the $81.5-million salary cap by over $4.1 million, with restricted free agents Brendan Lemieux and Anthony DeAngelo to re-sign. Something’s gotta give via trade or contract buyout. I’ll have more in today’s rumor update. 

NBC WASHINGTON: The Capitals avoided arbitration with forward Chandler Stephenson, inking him to a one-year, $1.05-million contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals sit $1.3 million over the cap. They’ll also have to shed salary before the start of the season, though their options will be easier than those facing the Rangers. More on that in the rumors section. 

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Dominic Turgeon to a one-year contract. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins traded a conditional sixth-round pick in 2021 to the Edmonton Oilers for prospect defenseman John Marino. 

The Vancouver Canucks extended their affiliation with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings. 

SPORTSNET: The St. Louis Blues are donating equipment to the Hockey Hall of Fame celebrating their first Stanley Cup championship. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2019

The Devils provide an elaborate welcome for P.K. Subban, the Leafs acquire Jordan Schmaltz from the Blues, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The New Jersey Devils provided a red-carpet welcome for P.K. Subban as they formally introduced the defenseman to over 200 fans at Prudential Center yesterday. The Devils acquired Subban during last month’s NHL Draft. Subban was also presented with a Ric Flair-style robe.

 

 

The New Jersey Devils staged an elaborate formal introduction of P.K. Subban to their fans yesterday (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a busy summer for the Devils. In addition to acquiring Subban for a song from the Nashville Predators, they selected top prospect Jack Hughes with the first-overall pick in this year’s draft and signed power forward Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $5-million contract. The Devils might not be done making moves. I’ll have more in the Rumors section. 

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired defenseman Jordan Schmaltz from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for blueliner Andreas Borgman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas continues to wheel and deal. Schmaltz is his latest move, coming on the heels of his recent acquisition of permanently sidelined winger David Clarkson with the intent of placing him on long-term injury reserve.

Schmaltz, a first-round pick by the Blues in the 2012 draft, is a once-promising puck-moving defenseman who struggled to crack the Blues lineup. A right-shot rearguard, he’ll provide additional depth at that position for the Leafs.

WGR550: An arbiter awarded Buffalo Sabres forward Evan Rodrigues a one-year contract worth $2 million. Rodrigues sought $2.65 million while the Sabres countered with $1.5 million.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers accepted an arbiter’s award of a one-year contract for defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. Cap Friendly indicates the salary is $1.6 million. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes agreed to a two-year affiliation deal with the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush.