NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2020
The NHL is still pushing for a mid-January start to 2020-21, the Wild sign Andrew Hammond as Alex Stalock remains sidelined, the Blackhawks name Stan Bowman president of hockey operations, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said the 2020-21 season could start in mid-January with a shortened schedule, a temporary divisional realignment with one of them composing all seven Canadian teams, division games only, and games in home arenas, hub cities or a combination of both.
Bettman indicated discussions between the NHL and NHL Players Association are ongoing as they try to adjust to government regulations at every level arising from COVID-19. He reiterated that playing an entire season in a quarantine bubble similar to the 2020 playoffs isn’t feasible. However, the league could consider moving teams toward a hub if enough of them cannot hold training camps or games in their home arenas due to local restrictions.
The commissioner maintains the biggest challenge facing the league remains to ensure the health and safety of the players and the support staff while ensuring they’re not doing anything that puts local communities at risk.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports five cities are under consideration if the NHL begins the season in hub locations. “Columbus, Newark, Vegas, and Toronto/Edmonton” are potential hubs but they won’t be permanent bubbles as in the playoffs.
KUKLA’S KORNER: cites TSN’s Frank Seravalli tweeting he’s heard the NHL is considering a triple header for opening night, centered around the Tampa Bay Lightning raising its 2020 Stanley Cup banner (“vs. CHI?”), with a “big East clash (NYR/BOS?) first and marquee West matchup late (COL/STL?).” While the league remains focused on a Jan. 13 start, Seravalli said they’re not beholden to that date. “Could be a week later.”
THE SCORE: cited Seravalli reporting Bettman sought the council of Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institutes of Health over the course of the pandemic. Fauci recommended the best way to start the NHL season safely was to do so in hub cities. While that’s not the preference of the teams and the players, Seravalli said that option remains on the table.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Quebec premier Francois Legault believes the Canadiens and the league can put measures in place to protect the players. The Habs are hoping to receive permission to stage training camp at its practice facility in Brossard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m growing skeptical that the league can stage its season-opener on Jan. 13. Recent reports suggest a vote of approval by the league board of governors and the NHLPA executive would have to come by the end of this week to meet the necessary timelines.
The 2020-21 season will take place. The team owners and the players want it to happen. However, it could take a little longer than expected to reach an agreement because of the work required to address the issues raised by the pandemic. Jan. 13 remains possible but I wouldn’t be surprised if the season opener gets moved into late January.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. It’s expected promising Kaapo Kahkonen will back up starter Cam Talbot to begin the 2020-21 season. Talbot was signed in October to a three-year, $11 million contract.
The Wild also confirmed the signing of goalie Andrew Hammond to a one-year, two-way contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hammond will likely start the season with their affiliate in Iowa when the AHL begins its season on Feb. 5.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks named Stan Bowman as their president of hockey operations. He’ll retain his role as general manager.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move has raised questions over whether Bowman can be his own boss. I wonder if this is a possible transition move if ownership decides at some point to make a change in the GM’s office.
CALGARY SUN: Former NHL goaltender Jason LaBarbera takes over as the Flames full-time goalie coach as the club announced the creation of a restructured goaltending department.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Hadall, the man charged with theft of hockey memorabilia from Walter Gretzky, has deep ties with the Gretzky family, as well as Hockey Hall-of-Famers Doug Gilmour and Bobby Orr. Hadall was slated for induction into the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame in Parry Sound, Ontario.
Meanwhile, Ontario Provincial Police officer June Dobson also faces fraud and breach of trust charges in connection to a stick from Wayne Gretzky’s childhood sold to a memorabilia dealer for $6,000.00. The two cases aren’t related but the Dobson case stemmed from the Hadall investigation. She was a friend of Walter Gretzky for many years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both have not been convicted of the charges and remain innocent until proven guilty. If the latter, they would’ve taken advantage of one of the kindest men in hockey.