2020 NHL Playoffs Post-Game Notebook Pittsburgh Penguins vs Montreal Canadiens Game 2
More details on the return-to-play plan and CBA extension, an update on the Blues’ COVID-19 tests, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reported yesterday the NHL and NHLPA were closing in on a tentative memorandum of understanding on an all-encompassing six-year extension on the collective bargaining agreement and a return-to-play plan to complete this season.
It requires ratification by the NHL Board of Governors and the full NHLPA membership. The latter would require 72 hours to vote.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said if an agreement was announced on Saturday the players’ vote could begin electronically on Monday. As of this update, there’s no sign of this agreement, though that delay could be due to yesterday’s American Independence Day holiday.
Seravalli listed the pertinent details of the proposed agreement, including the critical dates of the return-to-play plan, the term of the CBA (end of 2025-26 with a possible one-year extension), Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 pending negotiations with the IOC and IIHF, a cap on escrow (20 percent next season and gradually dropping to six percent for the final three seasons), freezing the salary cap at $81.5 million until league revenue returns to $4.8 billion, and outlawing front-loaded contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Further details on those and other issues were revealed from other sources on Friday evening. You can read about them in Saturday’s morning coffee headlines.
Other notable points include the players receiving a post-career health care subsidy of between $3,500.00 and $5,000.00 per player, the opportunity for players to rehab long-term injuries in a city or place of their choice unless the team can prove that rehab isn’t possible there, and no requirement for players who played in Europe to pass through waivers to return to the NHL provided they sign their NHL contract by Dec. 15.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last one is a significant change. In the past, a player who skated with a European team at the start of the season who subsequently signed an NHL contract could be plucked off the waiver wire by a rival club.
Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, reported the NHL remains focused on a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21 beginning in December or January. That would mean the Stanley Cup Final could be played sometime next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have to get through this season first. If the return-to-play plan is carried out to its hopeful conclusion, the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the first week of October. The 2020 Draft will be held in mid-to-late October, and the free-agent market would open Nov. 1.
Earlier reports speculated the league would kick off next season on New Year’s Day with the 2021 Winter Classic in Minnesota. That would mean training camps would have to open in early-December, meaning the clubs that reach the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final under the return-to-play plan will have a very short off-season.
STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports further details were provided on the multiple Blues who tested positive for COVID-19. A source said it was four players and one coach. The problem may have started over a week ago when several members of the team visited a local bar. One player soon tested positive, followed by another player and a coach, and then two more players.
It’s unknown if any of the five displayed symptoms or were asymptomatic. Some of them could miss the start of the training camp period in Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan slated for July 13.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said these and other positive tests weren’t necessarily surprising.
“I think it’s fair to say that our experience to this point is consistent with what we expected,” he said via email. “We didn’t go down this road thinking we were not going to see any positives. Of course, we were going to see positives.
Daly cited factors such as players spread out across the globe, their individual behaviors, locations, conditioning, and modes of travel. He stressed the importance of “conservative approaches and response management” is critical at this point.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s approach has always been that isolated cases, especially those involving asymptomatic players, wouldn’t derail the return-to-play plan. That will be put to the test under Phase 3 when the players return to their NHL cities for mandatory training camps. While the teams will be undertaking strict health and self-distancing protocols, the players will be under greater risk of exposure in those cities than they will in the two hub cities for Phase 4.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports a source claims Brent Seabrook hopes to rejoin the Chicago Blackhawks if play continues later this summer. The 35-year-old defenseman underwent surgeries on his right shoulder and both hips earlier this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook won’t be the only player sidelined at the time the schedule was interrupted by COVID-19 who could return to action in the proposed playoff tournament. Others include Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Columbus’ Seth Jones, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider, and Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel.
The NHL postpones the scouting combine, awards show, and draft, plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Jake Guentzel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The league yesterday announced the postponements of the 2020 NHL Scouting Combine, the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Awards, and the 2020 NHL Draft, which were originally scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y., June 18 in Las Vegas, and June 26-27 in Montreal respectively. The moves come as a result of ongoing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Location, timings, and format for the draft and the NHL draft lottery will be announced at a later date.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This announcement is a clear indication the league intends to resume its season, or at least stage the playoffs, during the summer if possible. I anticipate the draft combine and awards shows will be scrubbed entirely, with the latter perhaps handed out via official announcement at season’s end or a smaller ceremony involving the nominated players following the season. I also expect the draft lottery will be staged at some point during the playoffs (whenever that might be), with the draft staged via teleconference following the post-season.
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports one NHL team submitted a proposal for a tournament in which teams eligible for the draft lottery would play for the first-overall pick in this year’s draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yeah, that’ll go over well with the Detroit Red Wings, who have the best odds of winning that pick in the draft lottery. I’ll be very surprised if the league approves that proposal.
TSN: Dr. Winne Meeuwisse, the league’s chief medical officer, warns the differences across the NHL’s 31 market concerning testing, controlling and managing healthcare resources will affect when the players can return to action. The league must also determine the risks to the players, staff, and fans.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr said he and his staff remain in constant communication with their membership. He claimed between 400-500 players participated in team conference calls. He anticipates those calls will grow in frequency whenever the league gets close to returning to the ice.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist donated $100,000.00 to the Food Bank for New York City, plus “Campus Pantries as well as 27 community-based pop-up mobile markets, hoping to cover for the loss of meals provided in schools which have closed as part of the response to the coronavirus crisis.”
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is confident sidelined winger Jake Guentzel could be ready to return to the lineup once the season resumes. Guentzel underwent shoulder surgery in December and is rehabbing well. The timeline for recovery was four-to-six months.
TSN: The cancellation of the KHL season means its players on expiring contracts are free to sign with NHL clubs by May 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means players like Montreal Canadiens prospect Alexander Romanov could make their NHL debuts if the season resumes this summer.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, they re-signed Gustav Olofsson to a one-year, two-way contract.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars CEO Jim Lites and GM Jim Nill are taking 50 percent pay cuts to alleviate the financial stress on the organization as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula pledged $1.2 million to provide aid to Western New York during the pandemic.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning players created a fund to help all of the part-time employees of the team and Amalie Arena. The team will also donate “500,000 meals to Feeding Tampa Bay, a food rescue and distribution center in the Feeding America network.”
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The United Center, home of the Blackhawks, will become “a logistics hub where we will be assisting front-line food distribution, first-responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.”
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell clarified an e-mail sent to the club’s non-contracted employees that those who used up their vacation and personal time would be off without pay. ” “Everyone will get paid and we’ll figure it out after that.” He said the directive applied only to next week and that the team policy would be reviewed on a week-to-week basis, adding that the employees’ benefits would not be affected.”
ESPN.COM: Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer has switched to making medical equipment during this pandemic.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins ownership announced 68 full-time employees will be placed on temporary leave with one week’s pay and eight weeks of full-time benefit effective April 1. “In addition, 82 full-time salaried associates will be hit with an indefinite salary reduction. Anyone that has an employment contract will not fall under these cost-saving measures being made as a result of the Coronavirus impact.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins ownership is being pilloried in the Boston media for this decision. Principal owner Jeremy Jacobs is reportedly worth $3.3 billion. This decision will do little to bolster his already low popularity.
Another milestone for Marc-Andre Fleury, hat-trick performances by James Neal, Zach Werenski, and Kyle Connor, Jake Guentzel sidelined for months, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 455th career victory as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. He moves into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time wins list. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice for the Golden Knights, who move atop the Pacific Division standings with 50 points.
A hat trick by James Neal and a four-point effort by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins helped the Edmonton Oilers hold off the New York Rangers 7-5. The Oilers ran up a 6-0 lead before the Rangers made it interesting with four third-period goals. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin picked up four points. The Oilers (46 points) hold a one-point lead over the Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski tallied his first career hat trick and Elvis Merzlikins picked up his first career NHL victory in a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers, spoiling former Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s return to Columbus. Earlier in the day, the Jackets announced goalie Joonas Korpisalo will be sidelined four-to-six weeks following surgery on his right knee.
Kyle Connor’s second career hat trick carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 7-4 win over the slumping Colorado Avalanche. Mark Scheifele collected four points while Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Jack Roslovic each had three-point performances. Nathan MacKinnon tallied twice for the Avs, who’s lost five of their last six games. Jets center Mathieu Perreault returned to the lineup following a six-game absence with a concussion.
Alex Killorn scored two goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-4. Killorn and Tyler Johnson each finished with three points, as did the Sabres’ Conor Sheary. With 46 points, the Lightning move into third place in the Atlantic Division.
Patrick Kane scored twice and set up two others as the Chicago Blackhawks doused the Calgary Flames 5-3. Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner had a 41-save performance.
The St. Louis Blues’ eight-game win streak ended in a 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Antti Raanta made 38 stops while Phil Kessel netted the game-winner. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes placed defenseman Aaron Ness on waivers.
The New Jersey Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit to upset the Boston Bruins 3-2 on a shootout goal by Damon Severson. Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 42 saves in a losing cause, but the Bruins did pick up a point to extend their streak to eight games.
New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov kicked out 38 shots (18 in the third period) as his club edged the Washington Capitals 4-3. Casey Cizikas scored twice for the Isles while Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied two goals for the Capitals.
The Toronto Maple Leafs picked up their seventh win in their last eight contests by beating the Minnesota Wild 4-1. Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and William Nylander each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Leafs re-signed defenseman Justin Holl to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $2 million.
The Montreal Canadiens dropped their third straight game, falling 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes. They also lost winger Brendan Gallagher to a possible concussion after being accidentally kneed in the head by teammate Ben Chiarot. Hurricanes forwards Erik Haula and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points.The Habs have fallen to 12th overall in the Eastern Conference.
The Detroit Red Wings snapped a six-game losing skid by blanking the San Jose Sharks 2-0. Jonathan Bernier made 34 saves for the shutout while Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Hronek were the goal scorers.
A four-goal first period powered the Los Angeles Kings over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Jonathan Quick made 32 saves while Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each collected two points.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel will be sidelined four-to-six months following surgery on his right shoulder after Monday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was fined $5,000.00 and Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau $2,500.00 for their late-game scrum.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guentzel’s absence is a big blow to the injury-ravaged Penguins. With 20 goals and 43 points in 39 games, he had been selected to participate in the 2020 All-Star Game later this month in St. Louis. His lengthy absence could provide an opportunity for struggling Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk, who was the subject of frequent trade speculation in recent weeks.
The Penguins beat the Senators but lose Jake Guentzel to injury, the 2020 All-Star Game rosters revealed, stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin scored two goals to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Nick Paul scored both Senators’ goals. Malkin has 24 points in his last 13 games. Teammate Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists before leaving the game after crashing headfirst into the boards when he was knocked down by Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot. Guentzel left the ice under his own power but seemed to favor his right side. There was no immediate update as to his condition.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guentzel’s on pace for a career year, tallying his 20th goal of the season and being selected for the 2020 All-Star Game.
The NHL revealed its rosters for the 2020 All-Star Game in St. Louis on Jan. 25. Ryan O’Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jordan Binnington of the host Blues were named to the Central Division roster.
F Tyler Bertuzzi, DET (1st)
F Anthony Duclair, OTT (1st)
F Jack Eichel, BUF (3rd)
F Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA (1st)
F Auston Matthews, TOR (4th)
F David Pastrnak, BOS (2nd)*
D Victor Hedman, TBL (3rd)
D Shea Weber, MTL (7th)
G Frederik Andersen, TOR (1st)
G Tuukka Rask, BOS (2nd)
F Mathew Barzal, NYI (2nd)
F Jake Guentzel, PIT (1st)
F Kyle Palmieri, NJD (2nd)
F Artemi Panarin, NYR (1st)
F Travis Konecny, PHI (1st)
D John Carlson, WSH (2nd)
D Dougie Hamilton, CAR (1st)
D Seth Jones, CBJ (3rd)
G Braden Holtby, WSH (5th)
G Joonas Korpisalo, CBJ (1st)
F Patrick Kane, CHI (9th)
F Nathan MacKinnon, COL (4th)*
F Ryan O’Reilly, STL (3rd)
F Mark Scheifele, WPG (2nd)
F Tyler Seguin, DAL (6th)
F Eric Staal, MIN (6th)
D Roman Josi, NSH (3rd)
D Alex Pietrangelo, STL (2nd)
G Jordan Binnington, STL (1st)
G Connor Hellebuyck, WPG (2nd)
F Logan Couture, SJS (2nd)
F Leon Draisaitl, EDM (2nd)
F Anze Kopitar, LAK (5th)
F Connor McDavid, EDM (4th)*
F Elias Pettersson, VAN (2nd)
F Jakob Silfverberg, ANA (1st)
F Matthew Tkachuk, CGY (1st)
D Marc Giordano, CGY (3rd)
G Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK (5th)
G Darcy Kuemper, ARI (1st)
* Fan-elected captain
The league also released its All-Star Game “Last Men In” ballot, allowing fans to select up to four players to (one per division) to be added to the rosters.
SPORTSNET: Malkin, Boston’s Brad Marchand, Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, Florida’s Aleksander Barkov, Colorado’s Cale Makar, and Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes are among the most egregious all-star “snubs”.
Marchand not being named an All Star isn’t a snub. It’s a result of the NHL’s desire to have a representative from every team.
— Ian McLaren (@iancmclaren) December 30, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think you can also apply that to the other so-called “snubs”.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, St Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington, and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 29.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said his club would welcome back defenseman Dustin Byfuglien if the fit was right. Byfuglien’s been suspended since September for failing to report to training camp and is currently recovering from recent ankle surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The right fit being a healthy Byfuglien keen to return to the Jets’ lineup.
THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl was blunt when talking about his current slump. “I can’t speak for them (teammates), I can only talk for myself, and obviously I know I’ve been pretty shit lately,” he told reporters on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fair assessment of the Oilers as a whole of late.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins placed defenseman Charlie McAvoy (lower body) on injured reserve.
THE SCORE: Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo is listed as week-to-week with a knee injury suffered during their shootout loss to Chicago on Sunday.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) December 31, 2019