NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 1, 2020

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Cory Schneider, the updated salary-arbitration list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Michael Arace recently reported contract talks between the Blue Jackets and Pierre-Luc Dubois have stalled. The 22-year-old center is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images)

Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, however, isn’t concerned by the lack of progress in contract talks with the Dubois camp. “It’s funny how everyone’s worried about RFAs, because I’m not worried at all,” he said on Tuesday. “They get done when they get done.” He pointed out contract talks for defenseman Zach Werenski weren’t settled until right before training camp last year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen has every reason to be unconcerned. Dubois lacks arbitration rights plus there’s uncertainty over what league revenue will look like over the next couple of years. Those factors alone give the Jackets GM the hammer in contract talks.

The Jackets have over $12 million in cap space so there’s plenty of room for Dubois’ next contract. I think Kekalainen will attempt to get Dubois under a short-term bridge contract with the promise of a bigger payday down the road.

NHL.COM: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said Friday he’s considering signing Cory Schneider. The goaltender had his contract bought out by the New Jersey Devils, making him an unrestricted free agent. “There’s a good sort of chance of that transpiring,” said Lamoriello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on Oct. 12 the Isles were finalizing a one-year, $700K deal with Schneider. Lamoriello gives nothing away, of course, but LeBrun is a well-respected, well-sourced NHL insider. He probably got that info from someone close to the Isles’ front office or the Schneider camp.

I suspect the Islanders’ limited cap space explains why this hasn’t been finalized yet. They’ve got $8.9 million remaining but Lamoriello must also re-sign RFAs Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock. Once that’s sorted out, the Schneider contract will be probably be finalized.

NHLPA.COM: Only six players of the 26 who filed for arbitration this year are slated for hearings. Carolina’s Warren Foegele’s is on Nov. 4, the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome on Nov. 5, the Rangers’ Brendan Lemieux and the Islanders’ Ryan Pulock are on Nov. 6, Ottawa’s Christian Jaros is on Nov. 7, and Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar is on Nov. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only one – Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi – went before an arbiter. There’s a good chance the rest could be settled before their respective hearings.

THE SCORE: Ontario premier Doug Ford said Saturday his government is engaging with the Ontario Hockey League on a safe return-to-play plan for this season that must be confirmed by health experts. “To date no decisions have been made. I would like to see the OHL return as normal as possible with bodychecking.”

Ford’s remarks contradict comments made by Ontario sports minister Lisa MacLeod on Friday. She stated “prolonged or deliberate contract while playing sports is not permitted” to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if Premier Ford got a phone call from NHL headquarters regarding MacLeod’s comments. The OHL is one of the NHL’s main development leagues. They would probably frown upon their promising prospects being forced to play an entire season without bodychecking.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2020

Logan Couture and Blake Wheeler speak out against racism, Nick Foligno weighs in on players who feel unsafe returning to play, the league issues a ruling on 2020 conditional picks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA/TSN: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler are the latest NHL players to speak out against racism.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture (Photo via NHL Images).

Couture expressed his appreciation and support for teammate Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu, who’ve spoken out against racism in hockey.

Wheeler, a Minnesota native, spoke out against the death of George Floyd, whose death last week sparked riots in Minneapolis and across America.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse was credited with saving a local cameraman who was being beaten by a group of protesters outside PPG Paints Arena yesterday. Morehouse dragged the cameraman to safety before he was transported to the hospital. Morehouse declined to comment through a Penguins’ spokesman.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno believes NHL players uncomfortable about returning to play shouldn’t be vilified. He said he would understand if a player put the priority on his health or his family’s well-being during this pandemic. “If you don’t feel safe because of a condition or just a belief, then you have every right as a human not to return to play until you feel comfortable about it,” said Foligno.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players with medical conditions – such as diabetics like Montreal’s Max Domi or the New York Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko – could decide not to play if they feel their health could be at risk. Some with family members who’ve have or have had medical issues, such as Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk, could opt out if facing possibly eight-to-ten weeks separated from their families.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL sent a memo to its teams dealing with the status of conditional trades for the 2020 Draft. A club won’t be deemed as having reached the playoffs unless or until they’ve progressed into the 16-team playoffs, and playoff games or rounds will only include those in the round of 16.

For example, the Vancouver Canucks’ conditional first-rounder to the Tampa Bay Lightning in last summer’s J.T. Miller trade converts into a 2021 first-rounder if the Canucks miss the 2020 playoffs. The Lightning sent that pick to the New Jersey Devils in February as part of the Blake Coleman trade.

If the Canucks defeat the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round of the 24-team return-to-play tournament, their 2020 first-rounder belongs to the Devils. If not, the Devils instead get the Canucks’ 2021 first-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying round will be deemed as non-playoff teams.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL Players Association stridently opposes the league’s position that teams shouldn’t be permitted to sign players from their reserve lists to 2019-20 contracts so they can participate in the 24-team tournament. While deputy commissioner Bill Daly considered those players as “ringers”, Brooks noted no one had a problem with Cale Makar joining the Colorado Avalanche out of university last spring in the Stanley Cup playoffs, or Chris Kreider doing the same with the New York Rangers in 2012.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good point. If this has been going on for years with no complaint by the league, it doesn’t make sense to arbitrarily block it because of the change to the schedule wrought by the pandemic. As Brooks points out, it would only apply to a handful of players.

Brooks also reports the league’s return-to-play committee will likely be dissolved once the final details of the tournament are hammered out. Bracketing or re-seeding and whether the opening two playoff rounds will be best-of-five or best-of-seven are expected to be resolved this week. There’s been no talk of implementing new rules for the tournament or making full-face shields mandatory as a safety measure.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen believes Columbus has a good chance of being one of the tournament’s two host cities. He cited the number of available arena and training facilities, transportation, and the state of Ohio’s efforts to flatten its COVID-19 curve.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have parted ways with Mike Stothers, the long-time coach of their minor-league affiliate.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2020

Reaction to the league’s proposal to stage the 2020 Draft before resuming the season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports this week will be a big one for the NHL. A board of governors’ conference call will be held today to discuss stage the 2020 draft next month, perhaps on June 5 and 6.

The league will review bids on Tuesday for potential hub cities to host games should the season resume this summer. Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Las Vegas are believed among those expressing interest. The league must also address concerns raised by players regarding potentially lengthy separations from their families.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: J.J. Regan raised questions about staging the draft before the season resumes. He wants to know how the draft lottery will work, what happens with conditional picks, if teams will be allowed to trade players, and what happens with the investigation into claims the Arizona Coyote violated draft rules by fitness-testing at least 20 draft-eligible prospects before the league’s annual draft combine.

Las Vegas is believed among the cities interested in being a hub location for resuming the NHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regan pointed out deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested using points percentage as a way of determining the draft order, as well as reverting to the previous draft lottery system where one winner is picked and can only move up four spots. However, he noted that it raises the possibility of a team winning the draft lottery and going on to win the Stanley Cup if the season resumes this summer.

Regan cited Daly’s suggestions that teams involved in previous deals involving conditional picks in this year’s draft could sort them out between themselves or the league would do it for them. I agree with his take that it’s a simplistic solution for a complicated issue. It doesn’t sound like the league will allow players to be traded.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes appear to have inside information on 20 prospects, giving them an unfair advantage in this draft. I’ll be very surprised if that isn’t raised during that conference call today.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson cites an NHL team executive expressing doubt that staging an early draft will be a TV rating bonanza. “I know we’re gung-ho to get on the airwaves but our draft isn’t like the NFL draft. Nobody knows our players. I don’t think we’ll have massive ratings. There’s no intrigue leading up to the draft if you can’t trade real players, either, it’s just picking at a draft.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Comparing the NFL and NHL drafts, Matheson notes that few Canadians follow junior hockey here or in Europe with the same intensity that Americans follow U.S. college football. As he also points out, this year’s draft will lack spice because of the inability to trade established NHL players. I agree with him that the league must aggressively market this year’s prospects to NHL fans if they intend to hold the draft a month from now.

TSN: NHL teams are preparing for an early draft despite incomplete information on this year’s prospects. Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said it would be nice to see how those players perform in playoff situations. Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said they’re having to rely more on videotape, while Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff added they’ll have to count on the work put in by their scouts from September to early-March. Flames GM Brad Treliving said losing the draft combine means they can’t physically test the prospects.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every club will be in the same boat, except for the Coyotes because of their early physical testing of several prospects. Nevertheless, the inability to scout those youngsters in late-season and playoff action and evaluate their physical conditioning could make this year’s draft more of a guessing game, especially in the later rounds.

THE SCORE: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said NHL players flying into Canada from other countries while the border remains closed must follow quarantine procedures. “Certainly, at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.”

TORONTO SUN: Ryan Wolstat includes the Boston Bruins on his list of North American sports teams that would be hurt the most if their seasons are canceled because of the pandemic. With the NHL’s best record, the Bruins are considered this season’s Stanley Cup favorites.

Wolstat also thinks a cancellation of the season would spare the Toronto Maple Leafs the disappointment of another early playoff exit, while the last-place Detroit Red Wings wouldn’t have to complete the remainder of a meaningless schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Being the best team in the NHL during the regular season is no guarantee of a Stanley Cup championship. Since the NHL awarded the Presidents’ Trophy in 1986 to the team with the best regular-season record, only eight of those teams went on to win the Cup.

As for the Leafs, they could also exceed Wolstat’s expectations. Should the season resume following a long layoff, teams won’t be in the same state as they were when the schedule was paused.

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton shaved off his iconic beard.










Blue Jackets in Reset Mode Following Free Agent Exodus

Blue Jackets in Reset Mode Following Free Agent Exodus

 










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – March 11, 2018

A look at the general managers and coaches potentially on the hot seat in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

GENERAL MANAGERS POTENTIALLY FEELING THE HEAT

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle recently listed Detroit’s Ken Holland, Toronto’s Lou Lamoriello, Edmonton’s Peter Chiarelli, Montreal’s Marc Bergevin, the New York Islanders’ Garth Snow, Arizona’s John Chayka, Minnesota’s Chuck Fletcher, Colorado’s Joe Sakic, Columbus’ Jarmo Kekalainen and Chicago’s Stan Bowman as the 10 NHL general managers potentially on the hot seat as this NHL season winds down.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli is among several NHL GMs who could be on the hot seat. (Photo via NHL.com).

Holland was linked to Vancouver (before Jim Benning was re-signed) and Seattle’s expansion franchise. Mirtle also speculated Holland could be moved upstairs to a president’s role with the Wings or they could maintain the status quo. It’s expected Lamoriello will be moved out of the role as Maple Leafs’ GM at the end of this season, though he has a strong connection with Leafs president Brendan Shanahan.

There’s been rumors Chiarelli “is a man on an island in the front office as Wayne Gretzky exerts some influence,” while Oilers fans are “fed up”. Bergevin’s been given a vote of confidence by Canadiens ownership but Mirtle feels he’ll be on a short leash.

Snow has long had ownership support and contract talks with John Tavares could complicate any change before July 1. Still, Mirtle thinks the tide is shifting against the long-time Islanders GM. After two seasons with little improvement by the Coyotes under Chayka, a management change wouldn’t be surprising. Another early playoff exit by the Wild could prove costly to Fletcher.

Mirtle thinks this season’s improvement by the Avalanche means it’s safe to assume Sakic will be staying put. Kekalainen, meanwhile, could feel the pressure for Columbus to advance past the opening round of the playoffs. Bowman likely isn’t going anywhere in the offseason but Mirtle wonders about his future if the Blackhawks get off to a poor start next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve summarize the main points from Mirtle’s piece. Holland’s contract is up at the end of this season and I think the Wings are ready for a management change. Lamoriello is expected to move aside to make way for assistant GM Kyle Dubas. I can see him taking another role in the organization.

I don’t think Chiarelli will be fired but, like Bergevin in Montreal, he’ll be under pressure to turn things around this summer. Maybe Snow will be replaced, but I don’t think that’s a certainty. I certainly don’t see it happening while he’s negotiating with Tavares. If Snow can’t get his captain under contract, that could spell the end of his long tenure as Isles GM.

The Coyotes have had a rough season, but they’ve played better in the second half of this season. That could justify keeping Chayka around for another season. I agree with Mirtle that another disappointing playoff for the Wild could lead to major changes, which could include firing Fletcher. I don’t see Sakic, Kekalainen or Bowman going anywhere. 

COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT

USA TODAY: Kevin Allen lists the New York Rangers’ Alain Vigneault, Detroit’s Jeff Blashill, Edmonton’s Todd McLellan, Chicago’s Joel Quenneville, Washington’s Barry Trotz and Carolina’s Bill Peters as six coaches on the hot seat. 

The Rangers are committed to a rebuild but Vigneault has a reputation for being tough on young players. The justification for replacing Blashill could be the need for the younger players to hear a different voice. After Edmonton’s disappointing season, McLellan and GM Peter Chiarelli could be vulnerable. 

Quenneville could be replaced if the Blackhawks’ front office believes the roster needs a fresh approach behind the bench. Allen feels the fact the Capitals haven’t extended Trotz’ contract speaks to tension between the coach and the organization. A new GM in Carolina could want to bring in his own coach, while could spell the end of Peters behind the Hurricanes’ bench. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an unusual season as no NHL head coach has lost a job…yet. Vigneault is under contract through 2019-20 so perhaps the Rangers will keep him around for next season. The fates of Blashill and McLellan could be tied to those of their respective general managers.

The Blackhawks’ struggles this season are of management’s making but it’s usually the coach who pays the price. If the Capitals make another early playoff exit, Trotz is a goner. With Francis out as the Hurricanes’ GM, his replacement will likely want to bring in his own staff.