Laviolette Latest To Find A Ride On NHL Coaching Carousel
A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NOTES FROM DAY ONE OF TRAINING CAMP
NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent.
TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.
THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.
THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.
CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.
TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.
TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.
IN OTHER NEWS…
MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.
SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.
TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.
1/2 The NHL will release player awards finalists on these days.
July 14: Ted Lindsay Award
July 15: Jack Adams Award, Calder Trophy
July 16: Lady Byng Trophy, Masterton Trophy
July 17: Willie O’Ree Award, Vezina Trophy
July 20: Norris Trophy, Selke Trophy
July 21: Hart Trophy
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) July 10, 2020
The latest on the league’s potential plans to resume the schedule in July, stage the draft in June and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL SCHEDULING AND DRAFT NEWS
NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet the NHL is considering a scenario of resuming the season by staging three games per day in arenas without fans. He said the number of cities and locations hasn’t been determined yet, but indicated they would be in areas that aren’t COVID-19 hot spots.
The league also ruled out holding games in non-NHL neutral site cities because NHL arenas are best equipped to handle its needs if it decides to centralize games. Bettman stated the NHL isn’t in a race to resume action, stressing the importance of ensuring everyone involved is safe and healthy.
THE SCORE: Florida Panthers president Matthew Caldwell told a conference call yesterday the league is considering returning to action in July.
“At least for the NHL, we’re trying to target sometime in July and then when we feel that players are safe, we have enough testing, and have enough ways to get back on the ice, it’s probably going to be contained to playing at four or five neutral sites, so that’s all being discussed right now,” Caldwell said. “My guess is that we would start with either limited fans or empty arenas.” He added nothing’s been finalized, “but this is the direction things are going.”
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports it appears the league intends to complete its 82-game schedule divided into divisions and following an intradivisional schedule.
“Columbus and Carolina (Raleigh) would be options for the Metro Division; Tampa Bay and Florida (Sunrise) in the Atlantic; Minnesota and perhaps Colorado or Dallas in the Central and Calgary and Edmonton among those in the Pacific,” writes Brooks, who adds Las Vegas is also under consideration for a Pacific Division location.
Team presidents have been pushing for completing the schedule, rather than implementing an immediate, expanded playoff schedule. Plans also include expanding each team’s active roster to 30 players.
OTTAWA SUN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly remains optimistic about resuming the schedule this summer. “We have to be prepared for every eventuality. We need to do our due diligence so that the time it takes for us to respond to the circumstances is basically that the work is done and the only thing that needs to be implemented is the decision,” said Daly.
He added there’s been growing optimism over the past couple of weeks around the league. He also stressed holding those games would have to be done in a safe environment with plenty of readily-available testing.
Daly said the league hasn’t closed the door on staging game in non-NHL cities, but felt it makes more logistical sense to play neutral-site games in NHL cities. He said the league has been in touch with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s office to keep them informed on the league’s plans for the seven Canadian franchises.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Alberta premier Jason Kenney said Bettman spoke to him about staging 2020 NHL playoff games in Alberta. Reports have suggested Edmonton as an option. The city has a high number of people tested for COVID-19 but a low number of confirmed cases and deaths per million.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes told the NHL it was interested in having its state serve as a host site to resume the schedule. The team has declined to comment on the matter.
cross-border travel will be an issue. And what about players who have gone overseas–there could be problems for them to get back into the US or Canada. I still have the feeling the NHL is throwing lots of mud at the wall and seeing what is popular and what sticks.
— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) April 22, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman, Daly, and Caldwell aren’t definitively saying the league is returning to action in July. Nevertheless, it appears their wish is to resume the schedule during that month in NHL cities with the highest COVID-19 testing and the lowest confirmed cases and deaths.
Health and safety, however, remain primary concerns. League officials appear to be hoping for a flattening of the coronavirus curve in the cities they’re looking at staging their games. They also want to make sure the players have a training camp period (perhaps in June?) to get back into game shape and avoid unnecessary injuries. There must also be a sufficient self-quarantine period for players returning from European countries.
As a freelancer, I’ll be thrilled if the NHL returns in July. My income has taken a substantial hit since the schedule was paused in mid-March, so a resumption of the season will benefit me. However, I don’t want to see the league rush its return, only to end up shuttering again within weeks because a player or a league official tested positive for COVID-19. They must be certain they can ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.
Bettman also said the league floated the idea to the general managers of holding the 2020 NHL Draft in June before the season ends. “No decision has been made. And I said as we were getting some feedback, ‘We don’t live in a world of perfect anymore. We’re going to have to make adjustments.’
SPORTSNET: Daly said the league must decide “relatively quickly” if it’ll hold the draft in June. He said the league will consult with all 31 teams before deciding on staging a virtual draft two months from now.
TSN: NHL general managers will be paying close attention to the NFL’s 2020 Draft, which begins today and runs through Saturday, April 25. League commissioner Roger Goodell will be hosting a virtual draft, with team executives making their selections remotely from their homes.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun examined the pros and cons of staging the NHL Draft in June ahead of the resumption of the schedule. While most team executives he spoke to seem cool to the idea, LeBrun speculates the league’s trial balloon was less to receive feedback and more of a heads-up of what is coming.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league could be trying to gin up some excitement among sports fans for their product with a June draft, especially if a resumption of the season gets pushed ahead to August. Doing so, however, means untangling several problems, such as sorting out the draft lottery and addressing the issue of conditional draft picks exchanged in previous trades. There won’t be trades involving NHL players in a June draft if the league is returning to action soon afterward.
IN OTHER NHL NEWS…
NATIONAL POST: NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr isn’t ruling out the possibility of working out a multi-year extension to the current collective bargaining agreement with the NHL.
“It’s easy to envision scenarios in which in order to resolve everything we need to resolve, it would be much easier to do it in the context of a multi-year arrangement rather than a single year,” said Fehr. “Whether that’s going to come to pass remains to be seen. But it is certainly conceivable.”
Fehr said he and league commissioner Gary Bettman speak almost daily about the issues currently facing the league amid the coronavirus pandemic. For now, their focus is on salvaging this season.
THE SCORE: Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka said the current NHL schedule hiatus won’t prevent his club from making a contract offer to Taylor Hall. The 28-year-old winger is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
TSN: Jacob Markstrom said his goal is to stay with the Vancouver Canucks. The 30-year-old goaltender will become a UFA following this season.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard donated $50K worth of N95 masks to the Detroit Medical Center.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights re-signed Nicolas Roy to a two-year contract extension worth an average of $750,000 a year.
NJ.COM: Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine hopes to stay on as their full-time coach after this season.
TWINCITES.COM: Minnesota Wild interim coach Dean Evason hopes he’s done enough to stay on as the club’s full-time bench boss.
No decision yet on the fate of the 2020 regular season and playoffs, more speculation over the format of the 2020 post-season, interim coaches facing an uncertain future, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The NHL has not yet decided whether the remainder of the 2019-20 season will be played, or what format the 2020 playoffs might take. In a press release, the league indicated the resumption of play and format would depend upon what transpires between now and when it is permitted to resume play.
The league reiterated it doesn’t anticipate any resumption that would affect its ability to stage the 2020-21 season in its entirety. It also stated it was premature to assume games would be closed to the public whenever the schedule recommences.
THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the league told the board of governors it is too soon to determine when the schedule will resume, adding it is considering every option. Sources said some team executives prefer the usual 16-team playoff field, while others like an expanded one. A larger playoff format could also affect the draft lottery.
LeBrun speculates the likely postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics (July 24 to Aug. 6) could provide the league more flexibility to return to action this summer. He also said he couldn’t recall a higher level of cooperation between the league and the NHL Players Association than he’s seen right now, but that collaboration could be tested as both sides consider difficult financial decisions that affect both sides.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams on the playoff bubble would prefer an expanded playoff format if the regular season cannot be staged. Whatever that might look like remains to be seen. It will depend upon when they’re approved to resume by health officials in Canada and the United States.
NBC Sports provides national US TV coverage of the NHL. They’re also scheduled to cover the Tokyo Olympics. Postponing the Olympics ensures no broadcast scheduling conflict for the league.
It’s in the best interest of the league and the PA to cooperate during this crisis. They cannot allow petty squabbles of the past to derail efforts to find a workable solution to the anticipated decline in hockey-related revenue brought about by this pandemic. If they can successfully navigate through this, the stage could be set for a rancor-free extension of the current collective bargaining agreement.
STLTODAY.COM: Jeff Gordon observes the pause in the NHL schedule leaves the league’s interim coaches in limbo. They include the Calgary Flames’ Geoff Ward, the Dallas Stars’ Rick Bowness, the San Jose Sharks’ Bob Boughner, the New Jersey Devils’ Alain Nasreddine, and the Minnesota Wild’s Dean Evason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nasreddine could face the most uncertain future. He was hired by Ray Shero, who lost his job a month later. There’s talk the Devils could replace interim GM Tom Fitzgerald. If so, that person could bring in his own bench boss.
TSN: Mark Master reports ice makers in the 31 NHL arenas will face a daunting challenge if the league returns to action this summer.
THE SCORE: The 2019-20 Canadian Hockey League playoffs and the 2020 Memorial Cup have been canceled. It’s the first time in the Cup’s 102-year history that it won’t be awarded to Canada’s top junior team.