NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 21, 2020

More details revealed for the Stanley Cup playoff tournament, three Canadian cities remain among potential host destinations, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL released a directive to its clubs on Friday following a general managers’ meeting setting the dates for the start of the 24-team Stanley Cup tournament.

According to Brooks, the qualifying round will begin on July 30 at two host cities that will be selected within the next week or so.

Training camps scheduled to commence July 10 will last approximately two weeks, followed by a travel period (July 23 or 24) for the 24 teams to move to their respective host cities. Teams will play one exhibition game each before the tournament begins.

Training camp rosters will contain 30 skaters plus unlimited goaltenders. The tournament roster will consist of 28 skaters and unlimited goalies. Players on injured reserve won’t count again the limit.

Brooks reports coronavirus testing will be done every other day for all personnel entering the facility. It’s unclear if media will be granted access. Players and staff won’t be allowed to socialize outside the facility in numbers larger than the local social distancing guidelines.

The schedule is expected to be part of a comprehensive agreement between the NHL and NHL Players Association. It will also contain health and safety protocols for the training camps and the tournament, as well as a possible extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the time frame set for Phase 3 (training camp) and Phase 4 (tournament) of the return-to-play plan, the league and the PA need an agreement on the guidelines soon. Any delay could push those dates further ahead in the calendar and create further complications.

Reports indicate teams are reaching out to their players to return to their respective NHL cities by the end of this week. That will provide sufficient time for any returning players testing positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate for 14 days in order to be recovered in time for training camp.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s his understanding the NHL has reduced the number of host city candidates from 10 to six. Las Vegas remains in the mix, as well as Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver. A decision could come by week’s end as the league must negotiate deals (hotels, etc) with the host cities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Given the rise of COVID-19 cases in some American NHL markets, there’s a chance both host cities could be in Canada, where the pandemic curve has been flattened and reduced. There’s some recent speculation out of Vancouver suggesting that city could become a front-runner. 

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo and James Mirtle report the NHL isn’t considering pushing back the July 10 start date for training camps despite 11 players testing positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 (voluntary small-group training) commenced on June 8.

The report cites an unnamed Western Conference player claiming the recent outbreak confirms his belief the league is moving too quickly with its return-to-play plan.

Guys are not happy. This is why we better have a full player vote and not just an executive board vote. But I’m not convinced (NHLPA executive director) Don (Fehr) is going to allow that because he knows there’s so many of us on the fence. That’s why I think the league was trying to be hush-hush on these positive tests.

In my opinion, no way we play.”

Russo and Mirtle cite several player agents indicating a growing number of their clients are expressing concern over returning to play in a hub city. One agent suggested 35 to 40 percent could be on the fence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players have every right to be concerned following Friday’s report of 11 positive tests among their ranks. They’re the ones putting their health – possibly their lives – at risk, as well as those of their teammates and families. If they feel the league can’t guarantee their safety, they have the power to stop the return-to-play plan dead in its tracks.

The report also suggests the league might have to give the players sufficient enticement to ease their concerns. They’re already aware that a projected loss of $1.1 billion in hockey-related revenue from canceling the season will have far-reaching consequences for their paychecks. 

Perhaps a CBA extension with some concessions from the league (like a cap on escrow and assurances of Olympic participation) might garner sufficient approval from the PA membership. They could also allow players who wish to opt-out of the tournament to do so without facing repercussions.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: A rare Connor McDavid rookie card fetched over $113K US at a recent auction.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier is spending the off-season as a reservist in the Swiss Army. Service is mandatory for Swiss citizens once they turn 18. He’ll complete his initial training in August.

THE DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes the Colorado Avalanche could win the Stanley Cup this year if they get decent goaltending from Philipp Grubauer or Pavel Francouz.

STLTODAY.COM: Only three Blues are expected to participate in small-group training this week as the team reopens its training facilities for the first time since mid-March. Some of the Blues are skating elsewhere in St. Louis while others are training out of town.

RUSSIAN MACHINE NEVER BREAKS: cites a report from Isport indicating Martin Erat has retired. Erat spent 13 seasons with the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, and Arizona Coyotes from 2001-02 to 2014-15, with nearly 11 seasons with the Predators. He went on to spend one season in the KHL and four in the Czech League. Erat tallied 176 goals and 545 points in 881 career NHL games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Erat in his future endeavors. His best seasons were with the Predators, enjoying eight straight 49-plus point seasons. He was also involved in one of the most controversial trades in Capitals history, as they gave up then-prospect Filip Forsberg as part of the deal for Erat at the 2013 NHL trade deadline. He washed out with the Caps while Forsberg would become the Preds’ best forward.










What’s In Store This NHL Offseason For The New Jersey Devils?

What’s In Store This NHL Offseason For The New Jersey Devils?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 6, 2020

Game recaps, Leafs acquire Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford from the Kings, plus the latest on Mark Giordano, Anthony Mantha, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Charlie McAvoy’s overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Sean Kuraly also scored for the Bruins (78 points), who picked up their fifth straight victory. They move one point ahead of the Washington Capitals into first place in the Eastern Conference and overall standings. Alex DeBrincat replied for the Blackhawks (58 points), who picked up a point to move within two of the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Chris Kreider scored and collected an assist in the New York Rangers 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider scored six seconds apart in the first period as the New York Rangers downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and two assists. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs (63 points), who remains two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot and one back of the Florida Panthers for third in the Atlantic Division.

Following the game, the Leafs traded winger Trevor Moore, a third-round pick (originally from Columbus via Ottawa) in 2020, and a conditional third-rounder in 2021 to the Los Angeles Kings for goaltender Jack Campbell and winger Kyle Clifford. The Kings retain half of Clifford’s $1.6-million annual salary-cap hit. The 2020 third-rounder becomes a second-round pick if the Leafs re-sign Clifford, or Campbell wins six regular-season games and the Leafs reach the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas had no choice. Starting goalie Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a neck injury, Michael Hutchinson isn’t getting the job done as the backup, and third-stringer Kasimir Kaskisuo has limited NHL experience. With the Leafs spinning their wheels and in danger of missing the playoffs, Dubas had to shore up his goalie depth.

Campbell’s stats (8-10-2, 2.85 GAA, .900 SP) are better than Hutchinson’s. He’s also signed through 2021-22 at an affordable $1.65-million AAV. Clifford, meanwhile, should bring some welcome grit and veteran leadership to the Leafs’ lineup. Moore, 24, is a Southern California native who can be an immediate fit with the rebuilding Kings’ checking lines.

If this deal doesn’t pan out, it’ll stoke ongoing criticism of Dubas’ inability to suitably address his club’s depth between the pipes. 

CALGARY SUN: No word yet regarding the status of defenseman Mark Giordano. The Flames captain underwent an MRI for a lower-body injury suffered during Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames were reportedly in the market for a top-six forward. Their priority could shift if Giordano is out long-term. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bobby Ryan rejoins the Senators for the first time since entering the NHL’s Players’ Assistance program on Nov. 20. While medically cleared to resume skating, there’s no timetable when he’ll return to action. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha revealed he suffered a punctured lung after being slammed to the ice by Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin during an altercation on Dec. 21. He also came down with the flu that week. Mantha estimates he could return to the lineup between Feb. 10 – 15. 

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (laceration, left knee) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (lower-body bruise) will miss tonight’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. 

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals rookie goaltender Ilya Samsonov is listed as day-to-day with a head injury from a high shot taken by Alex Ovechkin during practice on Tuesday. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2020

Sidney Crosby picks up four points in his return to action, Connor Hellebuyck sets a Jets record, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby scored and set up three others to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Minnesota Wild 7-3. It was Crosby’s first game since undergoing core muscle surgery two months ago. Evgeni Malkin tallied twice for the Penguins. Wild winger Zach Parise potted two goals as his club dropped its fourth straight game.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a four-point performance in his first game since Nov. 9 (Photo via NHL Images).

After being blown out 8-4 in their previous game, the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the New Jersey Devils 7-4. Austin Matthews tallied a hat trick, John Tavares had three points, and call-up defenseman Rasmus Sandin had two assists. Blake Coleman netted a hat trick for the Devils.

Connor Hellebuyck set a franchise record for shutouts as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Hellebuyck made 41 saves for his 18th career shutout, setting the club record. Kyle Connor scored twice and picked up an assist.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 34 saves for his second straight shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Boston Bruins. The Jackets are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers (47 points) but the latter holds the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with a game in hand. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask left the game in the first period with a concussion after getting elbowed in the head by Columbus forward Emil Bemstrom. There was no penalty on the play.

The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on an overtime goal by Esa Lindell. Nathan MacKinnon had two assists for the Avalanche, who’ve dropped nine of their last 12 contests.

A lacrosse-style goal by Filip Forsberg couldn’t prevent his Nashville Predators from dropping a 4-2 decision to the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisailt each had three points for the Oilers, as the duo remain atop the NHL scoring race.

Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall each scored twice to lead the Arizona Coyotes over the San Jose Sharks 6-3. Derek Stepan and Conor Garland each collected three points for the Coyotes.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to edge the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on a shootout goal by Steven Stamkos. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 38 saves to pick up his ninth consecutive victory. Jeff Carter had two points for the Kings.

A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders to an 8-2 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings. Brock Nelson scored twice and Jordan Eberle netted his 500th career NHL point. The Isles snapped a three-game losing skid.

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored the game-winner as his club doubled up the Vegas Golden Kights 4-2. Sabres winger Sam Reinhart also scored and picked up two assists. Vegas winger Jonathan Marchessault returned to action following a four-game absence with a lower-body injury. The Golden Knights have dropped four in a row.

Jonathan Toews’ overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the slumping Ottawa Senators. Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame. The Senators are winless in their last eight games (0-4-4).

HEADLINES

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Devils center Nico Hischier will replace sidelined teammate Kyle Palmieri in the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis on Jan. 25.

THE ATHLETIC: A lower-body injury will prevent Arizona Coyotes netminder Darcy Kuemper from participating in the upcoming All-Star Game.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian vows to repay Matthew Tkachuk in kind after taking what he considered to be two blindside hits from the Calgary Flames winger in a recent game. Kassian is serving a two-game suspension from the league following an altercation with Tkachuk after the second hit. The league determined Tkachuk’s hit didn’t break the rules. Kassian’s first game following his suspension will be against the Flames on Jan. 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have a feeling league officials will let both players know they’ll be closely watched in their upcoming games against each other.

CBS SPORTS: Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson will be sidelined five-to-six months following shoulder surgery yesterday.

KSDK.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed defenseman Colton Parayko (upper-body) on injured reserve and activated blueliner Carl Gunnarsson.










Devils Fire GM Shero, Who Leaves a Nice Cache of Talent For Successor

Devils Fire GM Shero, Who Leaves a Nice Cache of Talent For Successor

 










NHL Injury Outlook Week 11: From Hischier to Makar

NHL Injury Outlook Week 11: From Hischier to Makar