NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2020

Phase 2 training groups expanded, update on the host city candidates, expiring player contracts tentatively extended to Oct. 31, plus the latest on John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reported the NHL will allow voluntary small-group training to expand from groups of six to 12 players effective today. It is a continuation of Phase 2 of the league’s return-to-play plan.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin reports Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares remains optimistic about the return-to-play plan despite 11 players testing positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 began on June 8. Tavares, a return-to-play committee member, said the league and the NHLPA continue to listen to advice from infectious-disease experts.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (Photo via NHL Images).

Certainly, you always have to be monitoring and preparing for the worst,” Tavares said. “But what we’ve been told by the experts and world health officials, everything they’re recommending, we’re more than capable of being able to come back and play as things continue to get better and improve. The other optimism I see is what’s gone on in other countries around the world that are a few weeks and steps ahead of us, especially in Europe, the soccer leagues in how they’ve handled it with their return to play. It seems there’s been some pretty positive progress. Some of those countries were hit pretty hard by the virus.”

Because players under Phase 2 haven’t faced league-imposed restrictions, Larkin feels it’s too early to declare last week’s positive tests as a threat to the return-to-play plan. The quarantine bubble under Phase 3 beginning July 10 would be much stricter. Nevertheless, Larkin believes the league could have a significant problem if cases still pop up among players in Phase 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 will tell the tale. If COVID-19 cases spike during training camp, the league could be forced to reconsider its plans.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports Las Vegas, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver figure prominently among the six cities under considerations as hosts for Phase 4. Sources indicate Chicago remains in the running while Los Angeles keeps pushing. The NHL sent more detailed information on the hub city bids to the NHLPA for review.

LeBrun speculates it could be Vegas and Vancouver or Vegas and Edmonton, with Toronto just on the outside. Las Vegas’ proposed quarantine bubble is considered the tightest. If both bubble cities are in the west, the league isn’t concerned about home-ice advantage because there won’t be any fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: George McPhee, the Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations, believes Las Vegas is well-suited to become a host city.

“It’s a service business down there and they’re used to big, big events and they can handle this one,” said McPhee.

Edmonton, meanwhile, released details of its’ proposed Olympic Village-style set up for the players.

NBC SPORTS: Columbus and Minneapolis/St. Paul were ruled out as host city candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas’ bubble had better be the tightest because cases are rising there. Vancouver and Edmonton have significantly flattened its COVID-19 curve which bodes well for their respective host-city bids. The decision is expected at the end of this week.

SPORTSNET: The NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed to extend all expiring player contracts and work permits to the end of October pending approval of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That includes players on the seven non-playoff clubs. The free-agent period usually begins on July 1. Looks like the market will instead open on November 1.


STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko took part in small-group training with several teammates on Monday. The St. Louis Blues winger had been sidelined since late October by a shoulder injury.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko is exempt mandatory military service in his native Finland because he’s a type-1 diabetic.

THE SCORE: The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the 2021 World Championship will take place from May 21 to June 6. The 2020 championship was canceled due to COVID-19.

ESPN.COM: The Dallas Stars fired a visual effects designer over a racist comment made on social media.

STLTODAY.COM: Winger Chris Thorburn announced his retirement yesterday. He spent 801 games over 14 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, and St. Louis Blues, tallying 53 goals and 134 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Thorburn in his future endeavors.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2020

A second Senators player tests positive for COVID-19, plus the latest on Shea Weber, Johnny Boychuk, Jacob Markstrom and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: A second Senators player tested positive for COVID-19 and is in self-isolation. He was among 52 people on board the club’s charter flight through California during their road trip from March 6 to 12. Eight of them have been tested thus far. Both Senators are the only NHL players to test positive thus far.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Half of the NBA and NHL coronavirus cases are linked to Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kings.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks report none of their players possess coronavirus symptoms or have been tested for the virus. In a statement, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson explained the club felt it was important to ensure those tests are available in the local community to those in the highest risk groups and those displaying symptoms.

Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber (Photo via NHL Images).

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Canadiens captain Shea Weber recorded a message on behalf of the Quebec government aimed at informing English-speaking seniors in the province to practice good hygiene during this time of pandemic.

ESPN.COM: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said defenseman Johnny Boychuk will return to action when the NHL schedule resumes. Boychuk was sidelined on March 2 after receiving 90 facial stitches when he was accidentally struck by a skate blade in a game against the Canadiens.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said goaltender Jacob Markstrom has fully recovered from his knee surgery.

TSN: NHL owners will have a conference call on Monday to discussion the league’s financial situation, including escrow.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites a source claiming the NHLPA held a conference call Friday in which the players essentially decide to defer a decision on how to handle their upcoming escrow losses until a verdict is rendered on the season. The league informed the PA that cancellation of the season could mean losses of up to $1 billion, equating to escrow losses of up to 35 percent per player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the league and the players are open to all options to salvage what’s left of the season. Nevertheless, they’ll still face significant losses. A lot of hockey fans will be adversely affected by this pandemic, leaving many without jobs or reduced income once this crisis has passed. They’re not going to spend it going to NHL games, where the fan cost index averages USD 424.62 for a family of four.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the 2020 Men’s World Championships are canceled. The tournament was to be staged in Switzerland in May.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Boston Bruins ownership announced a $1.5 million fund to aid part-time TD Garden employees if the Bruins remaining six homes games are postponed or cancelled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins faced growing criticism as the last team to unveil a plan to assist their part-time employees. The news received mixed reviews from TD Garden employees. Some were happy to hear the news, some felt ownership had to be shamed into doing something, while others are wondering when they’ll start to see the funding.

CALGARY SUN: The Calgary Flames Foundation will donate $1.15 million as part of a COVID-19 community support program.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: With their season cancelled, ECHL players have been left in the financial lurch. The minor-league Professional Hockey Players Association is starting a relief fund to help those players cover their expenses.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2019

Updates on Brad Marchand and Jordan Binnington, Mark Stone named 2019 IIHF Worlds MVP, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand is listed as “good to go” after taking a maintenance day from practice yesterday. He’s expected to be in the lineup for tonight’s opening game of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

Could Jordan Binnington become the NHL’s version of Kurt Warner? (Photo via NHL Images)

 STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington’s story is drawing comparisons to former St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner. The latter came out of nowhere to lead his club to the Super Bowl 20 years ago. Binnington, a midseason call-up, has backstopped the Blues to their first Stanley Cup Final in 49 years.

NBC PHILADELPHIA: NHL Hall-of-Famer Bob Clarke former Cherry Hill, NJ, home (with a Philadephia Flyers logo-shaped swimming pool) is up for sale for $1.4 million.

THE SCORE: Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defeated the Halifax Mooseheads 3-1 to win the 2019 Memorial Cup.

SPORTSNET: Finland upset Canada 3-1 to win the 2019 IIHF World Championships. Canadian player (and Vegas Golden Knights winger) Mark Stone was named tournament MVP.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2017

Anaheim Ducks forward Patrick Eaves celebrates one of his two goals against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM:  Ryan Getzlaf collected four assists and Patrick Eaves scored twice as the Anaheim Ducks doubled up the New York Rangers 6-3. With the win, the Ducks (93 points) surged ahead of the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division. The Rangers (96 points) failed to clinch a playoff spot but maintain a firm hold on the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. 

The Philadelphia Flyers kept their slim playoff hopes alive by thumping the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2. The Flyers (78 points) moved within six of the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. It was a costly loss for the Pens, as winger Conor Sheary left the game with an unspecified injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Meanwhile, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is unconcerned over Ottawa Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk’s harsh comments toward him over Crosby’s slashing the hand of Sens blueliner Marc Methot. “I’m just going to leave it,” Crosby said . “He likes to hear himself talk, so let’s leave it. It was four days ago.”

Andreas Anthanasiou scored in overtime as the Detroit Red Wings upset the Minnesota Wild 3-2. While the Wild clinched a playoff spot, they’ve gone 1-7-1 in their last nine games and 3-10-1 in their last 14. 

Adam Lowry scored the game winner as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. The Jets played without defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (lower-body injury) and star rookie winger Patrik Laine (illness). 

Tyler Seguin’s overtime goal gave the Dallas Stars a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. 

CSN BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture suffered a “ugly injury” after being struck in the mouth by a puck during his club’s loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Couture lost several teeth and it’s uncertain how long he’ll be sidelined.

Meanwhile, Sharks forward Micheal Haley has a disciplinary hearing scheduled for today with the NHL’s department of player safety for sucker-punching Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok. 

TORONTO SUN: No word yet as to the severity of the injury suffered by Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen during Saturday’s loss to the Buffalo Sabres. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lengthy absence for Andersen could put the Leafs playoff hopes in jeopardy. With 85 points, they’re only one ahead of the Boston Bruins for third in the Atlantic Division and only three up on the New York Islanders in the Conference standings. 

MIAMI HERALD: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad is not taking part in the club’s current road trip as he complained of a sore neck following last Tuesday’s game against Carolina. Ekblad had only recently returned from a concussion. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders forward Nikolay Kulemin was injured on Friday (upper body) and is questionable for today’s game against the Nashville Predators. 

USA TODAY: American NHL players could skip this year’s IIHF World Championships if USA Hockey uses replacement players at the upcoming women’s World Championships. The current members of the women’s team intend to boycott the tournament ” after negotiations that centered around more financial support stalled.”