NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2020

More reaction to the draft lottery results, updates on the CBA talks and hub cities, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Bryan Little, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: In his latest 31 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman reports more than a few NHL executives were unhappy over the results of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery, in which a yet-to-be-determined team eliminated from the qualifying round of the playoff tournament will win the first-overall pick.

Criticism lingers over the results of Phase 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery (Image via NHL.com).

Some of that reaction came from teams who felt they hadn’t received a definitive answer in advance about what would happen if the season couldn’t be finished. Friedman feels the qualifying round will now have more meaning and there will be a big audience for Phase Two of the draft lottery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conspiracy theorists already believe the NHL rigged the lottery to benefit a big-market club, screw over the Detroit Red Wings after their years of dominance, and to generate big ratings for the draft. These claims are, of course, baseless BS. 

Whatever the outcome of the draft lottery, it wasn’t going to please everyone. For every fan who feels it should’ve gone to one of this season’s bottom-feeders, like Detroit or Ottawa, some believe it shouldn’t reward those clubs for tanking the season.

Some observers, like the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, are delighted with the outcome as it gives a decent NHL team a shot at winning the first-overall pick instead of it going to a poorly-run club. However, that pick could end up going to a lesser-followed NHL market like Arizona or Florida, or a smaller market like Edmonton or Winnipeg, or a team that doesn’t need it, like Pittsburgh or Toronto. So there’s something for everyone to bitch about.

If the season can’t be completed, the eight non-playoff clubs when the regular season was paused will each have an equal shot (12.5 percent) of winning the first-overall pick. The rest of the order will be determined in inverse order by points percentage.

Friedman believes if Toronto and Vegas are named the two host cities, the Eastern teams will play in Toronto and the Western clubs in Vegas. “We’re overthinking this one.”

Regarding CBA negotiations, Friedman doesn’t expect a vote by the NHLPA membership will take place before June 30, pointing out it could take 48-to-72 hours. Some players and agents believe there should be separate votes on the CBA and the health protocols for Phase 3 and 4 of the return-to-play plan.

Friedman’s also awaiting clarity on what the one-time 10-percent salary deferral will mean for the salary cap. Some sources believe it will give teams extra room, while another said it would be counted in the year earned. He also believes the NHLPA vote will pass but will be interested to see which players opt-out of the tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We already know Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak won’t be taking part. It remains to be seen how many others follow his lead.

The league is holding firm against non-NHL players signed during the pause (Montreal’s Alexander Romanov, Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov, Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin) taking part in the tournament.

Friedman also suggested the July 10 start date for training camp could be moved back by three-to-five days to allow time to get everything done. It won’t affect the start date (July 30) for the playoff tournament.

There’s some talk of the seven non-playoff teams having “games” sometime in the fall. Details are sketchy and it’s not a priority, but those clubs don’t want to be waiting until December or January to play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: New Jersey Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald floated that proposal earlier this month. He indicated the team presidents and general managers of those respective clubs have discussed a pitch to the league to address their situation. Exhibition games among those seven teams are one option they’re looking at.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland said his club is more interested in a deep playoff run than the possibility of winning the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s attitude will be shared by the other clubs in the qualifying round. The opportunity to win that pick will be a nice consolation prize for failing to advance, but those clubs will be playing to win. Nobody’s tanking it just for a 12.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league will fairly evaluate every relevant consideration before deciding on the hub cities. The recent rise in COVID-19 cases in parts of the United States has some observers wondering what effect it’ll have on the league’s choices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Las Vegas reportedly remains a lock as one of the hub cities despite the spike in COVID-19 cases in that city and the state of Nevada. That’s prompted some observers to wonder if the league might look elsewhere. It’s expected we’ll find out sometime this week.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skated at the club’s training facility yesterday for the first time since the schedule was paused in mid-March.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Bryan Little won’t be taking part in the playoff tournament with his teammates. He’s still recovering from a perforated eardrum and concussion after being struck by a slap shot last November. He underwent surgery on his ear in March and said he’s feeling “pretty good” these days.

THE ATHLETIC: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi will take part in training camp after recovering from an injured spleen. He will be available to play in the tournament but it remains to be seen if he’ll be inserted into the lineup.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2020

Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa head the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees, plus the latest return-to-play news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa are the former NHL stars topping the Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 inductees. Former NHL defensemen Doug Wilson and Kevin Lowe, Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland, and former Canadian women’s goaltender Kim St. Pierre were the other inductees.

Former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla is among the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the HHoF Class of 2020.

It wasn’t surprising that Iginla and St. Pierre were inducted. With 625 goals, Iginla was one of the top goal scorers in NHL history, winning the Richard Trophy twice and the Art Ross in 2002. St. Pierre was perhaps the greatest goalie in women’s hockey history.

Hossa was also a first-ballot inductee. He tallied 525 goals and 1,134 points, won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, and developed into a strong two-way forward.

Holland got in as a builder for his work with the Detroit Red Wings, building on a solid foundation to turn that club into a league powerhouse and Stanley Cup champion.

Wilson’s induction was long overdue. He was one of the best defensemen of the 1980s, winning the Norris Trophy in 1982. He was also a first-team all-star in 1982 and a two-time second-team all-star while netting 827 points in 1,024 games.

Lowe had a fine NHL career, winning six Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. Nevertheless, I don’t think he should have received the nod over more deserving former stars like Alexander Mogilny, Rod Brind’Amour, and Daniel Alfredsson.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston feels the NHL faces a formidable challenge maintaining momentum toward resuming the season as more players return to their respective teams this week. More players mean more COVID-19 testing, which could result in more positive test results. Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan sees training camps open on July 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players are returning to their NHL cities by Friday to allow sufficient time to test and self-isolate those who test positive for 14 days. That would allow suitable recovery time before training camp.

The next month will determine if the 24-team playoff tournament begins in August as planned. A significant spike in positive tests could jeopardize the tournament.

THE SCORE: Older NHL coaches are putting their trust in the league’s restart plan despite being in a higher risk category for COVID-19. The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports 12 active members on NHL coaching staffs will be 60-or-older by the end of June. The league won’t impose age restrictions on the coaching staff, leaving it up to the individuals to determine if they wish to participate or not.

VANCOUVER SUN: Ben Kuzma reports a snag in local health protocols for positive COVID-19 tests could threaten Vancouver’s chances to become one of the two host cities for Phase 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Thomas Drance reports the disagreement is in the details. Pierre LeBrun said the Canucks continue to work on this issue with the league, but he and Drance agree it could prove insurmountable.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning reopened its training facility Wednesday after five players and staff tested positive las Friday. Those individuals are now in quarantine.

Former Sportsnet pundit John Shannon reports the NHL Players Association wants the July 1 bonus payments to the players to proceed as scheduled. Shannon said he’s heard the league prefer deferring those payments to the end of the tournament. More than $300 million are owed in bonus payments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shannon indicates the bonus payments are among the issues currently being discussed by both sides. They tentatively agreed to extend expiring contracts to Oct. 31.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: As coronavirus cases rise in Nevada, the Vegas Golden Knights are selling t-shirts encouraging fans to wear masks in public.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The slogan on the shirts is “Don’t Take A Chance”. Maybe it should read, “Don’t Take A Chance On Spoiling Our Hopes of Hosting The Playoff Tournament.”

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Construction of the Calgary Flames’ new arena will begin in August 20201.

NEWSDAY: Despite the owner of Nassau Coliseum shutting down the arena as he seeks a buyer, a county executive suggests the New York Islanders could still use the building next season until their new arena in Belmont Park is ready.










NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Edmonton Oilers

NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Edmonton Oilers

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2020

League commissioner Gary Bettman admits finishing the regular season might not be possible, Oilers forward Colby Cave in a medically-induced coma, plus the latest on Sergei Bobrovsky, Jeff Skinner and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman admitted finishing the regular season might not be possible, though he stressed many options are under consideration. One could see games played at neutral sites if teams aren’t allowed to play in their home arenas. It could take at least a couple of more weeks for clarity on how the pandemic affects all 31 NHL markets.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman admits completing the regular season might not be possible (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While NHL fans and pundits are calling upon Bettman to cancel the season and the playoffs, the league and the NHLPA are determined to salvage the rest of the schedule. Failing that, they’ll attempt to stage the Stanley Cup playoffs in some format during the summer.

Of course, it’ll depend upon how long it takes before the pandemic has run its course and is eventually contained. If the current situation persists through the summer, Bettman and company will have no choice but to scrap the season and look toward gearing up for 2020-21.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports being told it’s very unlikely the league would consider just one neutral site because it won’t work for its purposes. Scenarios include two locations where they each had two rinks apiece that the league could use, or four locations for 16 teams, or eight locations. LeBrun indicated it’s still very early in those discussions.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Colby Cave underwent emergency surgery yesterday in Toronto to remove a colloid cyst that was putting pressure on his brain. He remains in a medically-induced coma. The condition is not related to the COVID-19 pandemic, nor was it the result of an accident.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Cave makes a full recovery and resumes his playing career.

THE DENVER POST: A third Colorado Avalanche player tested positive for COVID-19. He’s in self-isolation and hasn’t had close contact with his teammates or team staff. The league has had eight players test positive for the coronavirus, including five Ottawa Senators.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland said it’s his understanding his club will keep its conditional third-round pick from the Milan Lucic-for-James Neal swap last summer if the season doesn’t resume. The Flames would’ve received the pick if Neal scored at least 21 goals this season and Lucic tallied 10-or-fewer goals than Neal. The latter had netted 19 goals when the schedule was paused.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is earning praise for his efforts to help the local community during the pandemic. Bobrovsky pledged $100K to cover the salaries of the Panthers’ home arena part-time staff. His teammates and team owner Vinnie Viola subsequently jumped on board to cover those employee losses.

Bobrovsky is also working with the Panthers’ Foundation to equip first responders and medical workers with N95 masks. “I think I just tried to do the right thing for those people, to support them and help them from my side,” said Bobrovsky.

KITCHENER TODAY: Former Kitchener Rangers winger Jeff Skinner donated $53,000 to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region. The donation number is a reference to the No. 53 he wired with the Rangers and wears today with the Buffalo Sabres.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien said young center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is resting at home in Finland and suffered no setbacks in his recovering from an injured spleen suffered on March 11.

NBC SPORTS: Former NHL general managers Brian Burke and Mike O’Connell are feuding over Burke’s attempt to acquire Joe Thornton during his tenure as Anaheim Ducks GM in 2005. O’Connell, the Bruins GM at the time, eventually shipped Thornton to the San Jose Sharks. Burke is still bitter about it, believing he’d made a better offer. O’Connell, however, called Burke’s claims a fabrication.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s nothing like a pissing contest between two former NHL GMs to provide a momentary distraction from this pandemic and its effects upon the NHL season.










What’s Next For The Edmonton Oilers?

What’s Next For The Edmonton Oilers?

 










Oilers Are Ken Holland’s NHL Team But Sometimes He Still Sees Red

Oilers Are Ken Holland’s NHL Team But Sometimes He Still Sees Red