Have The Toronto Maple Leafs Turned The Corner At Last?
The latest on plans to resume the season, Toronto and Edmonton being discussed as host cities for neutral-site games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the NHL hopes to initiate Phase 2 toward resuming the season sometime in late May. Under that scenario, teams could reopen its facilities to allow small groups of players to voluntarily train together. “But here’s an interesting twist to all of that,” said Dreger. “Even though a majority of clubs may be able to open up unless they can all open up at the same time or around the same time, the NHL isn’t going to allow players to go to their club facility again until the majority are able to do that.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer it takes for the majority of teams to reopen training facilities, the more likely the late May timeline for Phase 2 gets pushed ahead into June.
If the league returns to action this summer, it’ll be in empty arenas. Frank Seravalli reports the NHL is leaving it up to its teams to determine plans to refund tickets. Most teams would prefer rolling that money toward 2020-21 season-ticket plans. The New Jersey Devils are offering refunds and incentives. Philadelphia Flyers fans can ask for a refund or receive credit toward future scheduled events.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cites a league executive saying it feels like staging the 2020 NHL Draft next month will happen “because the league wants it and they’ve spent a lot of time on this file to try to alleviate everybody’s concerns.”
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged the possibility that a club could win the draft lottery and the Stanley Cup. “But we think it is a very remote possibility and is extremely unlikely to happen,” said Daly. Garrioch feels that’s why the league is proposing going back to the old draft lottery system that allows teams to move up only four spots and fall back one.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whether we like it or not, the NHL seems intent on staging a virtual draft sometime next month. The league hopes this will generate buzz among hockey fans hungry for a resumption of the season. I think opening training camps and staging exhibition games in preparation for resuming the schedule will stir up more excitement than a bastardized version of the draft, especially when trading established NHL players won’t be allowed.
TSN: Ontario premier Doug Ford said he’s been in contact with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment about the possibility of Toronto being a host city for teams should the NHL resume this season.”They’ve been in contact,” Ford said. “They’re coming up with a game plan, (the) NHL as a whole. They haven’t really divulged anything else as of yet, but we have had a conversation. Once I get more information, I’ll be able to pass it along.”
Ryan Rishaug, meanwhile, reports things appear to be progressing between the Edmonton Oilers and the province of Alberta regarding the city of Edmonton becoming a host city if the league resumes action in the coming weeks. “As meetings continue between [Alberta Health Services] and the Oilers organization there remains a strong sense of optimism from both sides that a realistic proposal will be possible. While there is still lots to work through, criteria from the NHL and AHS seem to be aligning on many fronts,” writes Rishaug.
TORONTO STAR: Leafs defenseman Justin Holl said American players on Canadian clubs like himself are waiting for a concrete plan before returning to their clubs. Under Canadian guidelines, anyone who arrives in Canada from another country must follow all rules of self-quarantine for two weeks.
TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens are collaborating with Tablée des chefs and Moisson Montréal to use the Bell Centre as an enormous kitchen to prepare tens of thousands of meals for families in need.