NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2020

Potential playoff formats are under consideration, plans for the 2020 Draft remain uncertain and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST NHL SCHEDULE AND DRAFT NEWS

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL/NHLPA “Return to Play” committee discussed returning with 16, 20, or 24-team playoff formats. Of the three, the 24-team format appears to be garnering some traction. That format would see non-playoff clubs like Montreal and Chicago getting postseason berths. “But again, let me stress. Nothing is decided. These are just the conversations that are being had between both sides this week,” said LeBrun.

Darren Dreger suggests a “play-in” format that trims those 24 teams down to the traditional 16 playoff clubs, rather than playing out the remainder of the regular season. This format would allow the league to get through the process quickly in case there’s a second COVID-19 wave in the fall. “If the NHL once again has to shut down in September, maybe October, maybe drift into November, there’s a built-in break, and then they reset and get going on the 2020-21 season again as late as December,” he said.

Frank Seravalli said the cost of COVID-19 testing and sterilizing dressing rooms and the rest of the facility could reach tens of millions of dollars. “So far, to this point, the NHL has determined that the juice would be worth the squeeze but we’ll see as these continue to add up,” said Seravalli.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA had considered resuming the remainder of the 2019-20 schedule and the playoffs. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports one reason they’re exploring other options is it would avoid bringing back teams with no chance of reaching the playoffs and having them play a month’s worth of meaningless games.

He also said it would reduce how long players would have to spend in hub cities, especially those that go deep into the postseason. Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk recently said he and his fellow players with families aren’t keen to spend up to four months separated from their families. “Nobody with kids is going to want to be away for three or four months at a time. I think that’s a lot to ask out of guys.” Dubnyk missed part of this season to be with his wife while she was dealing with a serious medical condition, so he has an additional reason not to be away from his family for a long period.

Brooks added going directly to a playoff tournament would allow for a draft lottery in which the seven clubs that don’t make the playoff cut could be eligible for the first-overall pick in this year’s draft.

While I understand the league’s desire to recoup some of its losses by completing the regular season, returning immediately with a postseason format makes the most sense. Nevertheless, we still await a final decision. With the pandemic still ongoing, cancellation of the season and playoffs remains a real possibility.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports debate continues over the format of the 2020 NHL Draft. It appeared an early-June draft was a foregone conclusion, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly said everything is still on the table.

June 5 was believed the target date, though options later in the month are also under consideration. Some NHL teams are uncomfortable with staging the draft before resuming the season, while some general managers aren’t happy over being prevented from making trades involving active players while the schedule is paused.

TSN: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he’s among the majority of GMs who prefer staging the draft after the season is completed. “I think most of the managers would like it to happen in a natural order,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman believes no decision this week would mean the date to stage the draft would be pushed later than the June 5-6 timeframe originally proposed by the league. The fact there hasn’t been a decision yet suggests the league may have encountered more pushback from team owners and general managers or perhaps unforeseen issues arose that require more time to address.

WINNIPEG SUN: Ted Wyman cites an Angus Reid poll indicating one-quarter of hardcore Canadian sports fans polled indicate they wouldn’t attend a sports event in October or November until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed. “Another 40% said they would have to do some deliberating before making up their minds and 35% said they would attend with no reservations.” Wyman suggests this underlines the difficulty for pro sports in returning to normal following the pandemic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL revenue will likely feel the effects of this pandemic beyond 2020. That could take a toll on the salary cap for 2021-22. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: Montreal Canadiens star Carey Price reached out to give support to two boys who lost their parents during last month’s mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

THE SCORE: The New Jersey Devils interviewed Dallas Stars assistant coach John Stevens for their head-coaching job.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Alex Kerfoot’s family rink gives him a training advantage over his fellow players during their self-quarantine period.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes Brendan Leipsic’s recent offensive comments on Instagram could cost the winger his NHL career.

SPORTSNET: The Kontinental Hockey League will not name a champion after stopping its season part-way through the playoffs because of the coronavirus pandemic.










NHLers Not Giving Up Hope, But Recognize Season Could Be Over

NHLers Not Giving Up Hope, But Recognize Season Could Be Over

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2020

The NHL postpones the scouting combine, awards show, and draft, plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Jake Guentzel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league yesterday announced the postponements of the 2020 NHL Scouting Combine, the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Awards, and the 2020 NHL Draft, which were originally scheduled for June 1-6 in Buffalo, N.Y., June 18 in Las Vegas, and June 26-27 in Montreal respectively. The moves come as a result of ongoing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Location, timings, and format for the draft and the NHL draft lottery will be announced at a later date.

The 2020 NHL Draft has been postponed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This announcement is a clear indication the league intends to resume its season, or at least stage the playoffs, during the summer if possible. I anticipate the draft combine and awards shows will be scrubbed entirely, with the latter perhaps handed out via official announcement at season’s end or a smaller ceremony involving the nominated players following the season. I also expect the draft lottery will be staged at some point during the playoffs (whenever that might be), with the draft staged via teleconference following the post-season.

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance reports one NHL team submitted a proposal for a tournament in which teams eligible for the draft lottery would play for the first-overall pick in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yeah, that’ll go over well with the Detroit Red Wings, who have the best odds of winning that pick in the draft lottery. I’ll be very surprised if the league approves that proposal.

TSN: Dr. Winne Meeuwisse, the league’s chief medical officer, warns the differences across the NHL’s 31 market concerning testing, controlling and managing healthcare resources will affect when the players can return to action. The league must also determine the risks to the players, staff, and fans.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Players Association executive director Donald Fehr said he and his staff remain in constant communication with their membership. He claimed between 400-500 players participated in team conference calls. He anticipates those calls will grow in frequency whenever the league gets close to returning to the ice.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist donated $100,000.00 to the Food Bank for New York City, plus “Campus Pantries as well as 27 community-based pop-up mobile markets, hoping to cover for the loss of meals provided in schools which have closed as part of the response to the coronavirus crisis.”

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford is confident sidelined winger Jake Guentzel could be ready to return to the lineup once the season resumes. Guentzel underwent shoulder surgery in December and is rehabbing well. The timeline for recovery was four-to-six months.

TSN: The cancellation of the KHL season means its players on expiring contracts are free to sign with NHL clubs by May 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means players like Montreal Canadiens prospect Alexander Romanov could make their NHL debuts if the season resumes this summer.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of the Canadiens, they re-signed Gustav Olofsson to a one-year, two-way contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars CEO Jim Lites and GM Jim Nill are taking 50 percent pay cuts to alleviate the financial stress on the organization as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula pledged $1.2 million to provide aid to Western New York during the pandemic.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning players created a fund to help all of the part-time employees of the team and Amalie Arena. The team will also donate “500,000 meals to Feeding Tampa Bay, a food rescue and distribution center in the Feeding America network.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The United Center, home of the Blackhawks, will become “a logistics hub where we will be assisting front-line food distribution, first-responder staging and the collection of critically needed medical supplies.”

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell clarified an e-mail sent to the club’s non-contracted employees that those who used up their vacation and personal time would be off without pay. ” “Everyone will get paid and we’ll figure it out after that.” He said the directive applied only to next week and that the team policy would be reviewed on a week-to-week basis, adding that the employees’ benefits would not be affected.”

ESPN.COM: Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer has switched to making medical equipment during this pandemic.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins ownership announced 68 full-time employees will be placed on temporary leave with one week’s pay and eight weeks of full-time benefit effective April 1. “In addition, 82 full-time salaried associates will be hit with an indefinite salary reduction. Anyone that has an employment contract will not fall under these cost-saving measures being made as a result of the Coronavirus impact.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins ownership is being pilloried in the Boston media for this decision. Principal owner Jeremy Jacobs is reportedly worth $3.3 billion. This decision will do little to bolster his already low popularity.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2020

NHL extends self-quarantine period, asks its teams to provide available arena dates in August, and temporarily cuts employee salaries. Details and much more, including the latest on Kyle Palmieri and Kyle Clifford, in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL COVID-19 HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the NHL instructed its players and team staff to extend their period of self-quarantine to April 6. Two players to date, both Ottawa Senators, have tested positive for COVID-19.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the league yesterday requested its 31 clubs to provide available home dates for August. That suggests the playoffs could be as late as August. McKenzie also believes the league must address the legal technicality of extending contracts that expire at the end of June and the effect on work visas for European players.

The NHL extends its self-quarantine period for its players.

Pierre LeBrun indicates the cost of maintaining ice in those buildings during the summer will be costly in terms of refrigeration and air conditioning in the arenas. He also reported the league had a conference call with general managers. Lots of questions about the “draft, combine, lottery, schedule/playoffs, free agency,” but the league has few answers at this stage.

Frank Seravalli reports the league doesn’t anticipate any meaningful insurance bailout. Facing potential revenue losses of $1 billion, the league will do whatever it takes to get back on the ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think it’ll be another month before we get clarity over when the schedule will resume and when the playoffs will be staged, as well as determining what the off-season schedule will look like. The longer this pandemic goes on in North America, the less likely the league can return to the ice and salvage the season and the playoffs, especially when they consider it a priority to stage 2020-21 in its entirety.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston also reports the league told its teams Monday that the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics will extend the potential window for staging the Stanley Cup playoffs this summer. “The league shares a U.S. broadcast partner with the Olympics in NBC and had previously believed the playoffs had to be wrapped up before the cauldron was lit during the Opening Ceremonies.”

THE SCORE: The league is reported to have temporarily reduced the pay of its office staff by 25 percent because of the coronavirus epidemic. It’s also hoping to avoid layoffs.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens is making temporary job cuts of its staff affecting up to 60 percent of its personnel. It has established a $6 million assistance fund to help its employees. TVA Sports reports Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Claude Julien have agreed to give up 20 percent of their salaries in support of the club’s laid-off employees.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The company that owns the New Jersey Devils has reversed its decision to levy a 20 percent pay cut on its employees.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: TD Garden part-time workers have been laid off.

KHL.RU: The Kontinental Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of its’ 2019-20 season over coronavirus concerns.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NJ.COM: Despite the New Jersey Devils’ disappointing season, winger Kyle Palmieri remains optimistic over the club’s future. He cites promising prospects such as Ty Smith, Kevin Bahl, Daniil Misyul and recently-acquired Nolan Foote, as well as rookie center Jack Hughes. “We’re building and we’re young, and guys are going to keep getting better year by year,” Palmieri said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen whether Palmieri will be part of the Devils’ rebuild. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status next summer.

THE SCORE: There’s mutual interest between the Toronto Maple Leafs and UFA forward Kyle Clifford in working on a contract extension. No deal is imminent as this time owing to uncertainty raised by the current pause in the league’s schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With over $76 million invested in 16 players, the Leafs will be awaiting next season’s salary cap numbers before getting down to contract talks with free agents like Clifford.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets have started contract extension talks with restricted free agent Vladislav Gavrikov.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 18, 2020

A Senators player tests positive for COVID-19, NHL players propose a summer postseason schedule, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SENATORS PLAYER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, SEVERAL TEAMMATES BEING TESTED

NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators released a statement indicating one of their players tested positive for COVID-19. The unnamed player has mild symptoms and is in isolation. The club also indicated they’re in the process of notifying anyone who had known close contact with the player and is working closely with team doctors and public health officials.

THE ATHLETIC: Other Senators players are believed to be ill and they’re awaiting test results. It’s thought the infection occurred when the Senators played the Los Angeles Kings on March 11 at Staples Center, the day after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets (who have four players who tested positive for COVID-19) played the Lakers at the same arena. The Sens also played games against the Ducks in Anaheim and the Sharks in San Jose and could’ve picked up the virus in one of those locations.

An Ottawa Senators player has tested positive for COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was inevitable an NHL player would test positive for COVID-19. Here’s hoping whoever it makes a full recovery, while the others receive negative results from their tests.

NHL.COM: A relative of a Buffalo Sabres employee tested positive for COVID-19 outside of New York state. They are receiving care and are in isolation outside the state.

MORE PROPOSALS FOR SAVING THE 2019-20 NHL SEASON

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports some NHL players have proposed resuming the season in July and August after recent reports from health experts suggest resuming the season in May or June seem overly optimistic. They’d rather not jump straight into the postseason, preferring a shortened regular-season schedule (following a brief training camp) that ends in late-July, followed by a two-month playoff run finishing in late-September.

After that, the proposal suggested a three-to-four week transition in October to allow for the draft, free agency and training camps. The 2020-21 season would follow with a condensed, 82-game regular-season schedule. The proposal is making its way to the NHL Players Association and potentially to the league,

The NHL is willing to consider all options to salvage this season. Seravalli pointed out the players’ proposal is similar to one recently pitched by a league governor. The biggest concerns, however, is broadcast availability (NBC Sports is covering the 2020 Summer Olympics from July 24 to Aug. 6) and arena availability.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston examined how a 24-team Stanley Cup playoffs could look following a halted season. Based on the seedings, the first-round matchups would look like this:

Pittsburgh vs. Montreal

Toronto vs. N.Y. Rangers

Carolina vs. Florida

N.Y. Islanders vs. Columbus

Dallas vs. Chicago

Vancouver vs. Arizona

Nashville vs. Minnesota

Calgary vs. Winnipeg

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Michael Traikos examined the NHL’s options when the season resumes. Among them could be a wild card play-in, or a round-robin, or a shortened playoff featuring the top-eight teams, a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, or an inverted playoff pyramid with the first round a best-of-seven series, the second round a best-of-five, the Conference Finals a best-of-three, followed by a single-game winner-take-all Stanley Cup Final.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reiterated the league’s intent to finish the 2019-20 regular season and the playoffs, but it won’t happen until approval is received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Other factors must also be taken into consideration, such as broadcasting and arena availability. Daly also said every scenario is being considered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players and the league appears to be on the same page with saving this season. One reason is the desire to crown a Stanley Cup champion, but trying to salvage as much remaining revenue as possible is another motivating factor. Another issue will also be ice conditions in each arena during the summer. At this point, I think the league will face canceling the season outright if they can’t at least resume action by mid-May.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: With quarterback Tom Brady’s long tenure with the NFL’s New England Patriots having ended, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron becomes the longest-tenured active pro athlete in Boston.

KHL.RU: The Kontinental Hockey League has suspended its playoffs until April 10 in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

THE SCORE: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) has canceled its regular season, with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) are expected to follow suit.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield will spend another season in the NCAA.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2020

The NHL could be shut down until May, the latest on the potential effect upon the salary cap, and much more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending the cancellation or postponement of all events consisting of at least 50 people for eight weeks throughout the United States. That would mean the NHL is unlikely to return to action until mid-May at the earliest.

NHL arenas could remain dark until mid-May.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the league still intends on finishing the regular season and staging a full playoff schedule, the Stanley Cup wouldn’t be awarded until probably late July or early August.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun believes the Summer Olympics (July 24 – Aug. 9) could be the “drop-dead” period when resuming the NHL season no longer makes sense. He doubts the league wants the Stanley Cup Final going up against the Olympics. He also feels the NHL won’t drag out a decision if it gets a strong sense it cannot continue the season.

Citing multiple sources, LeBrun feels the league and the NHL Players Association won’t let teams fall into salary-cap hell by allowing the cap to drop by millions of dollars for 2020-21. In this exceptional circumstance, both sides can agree to an artificial cap that makes sense for all sides.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I and others (including LeBrun) have pointed out, the league and the PA agreed to an artificial cap for 2013-14 after coming out of the 2012-13 lockout, keeping it at the ’11-’12 level ($64.3 million). I expect they’ll at least maintain it at this season’s level ($81.5 million) if necessary.

TSN: LeBrun also reports it’s business as usual for college free agents hoping to sign NHL contracts. Colleague Mark Masters, meanwhile, interviewed two experts in the field of athletic performance over how the players can remain in shape during their period of self-quarantine.

Speaking of business as usual, the Anaheim Ducks yesterday placed forward Kiefer Sherwood on waivers.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the league wants its players to remain in the cities where they play for their protection and to make it easier to assess the overall health of the NHL community.

All five of Toronto’s professional sports teams combined to create a special assistance fund for event staff affected by the suspension of all major sports in the city.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens announced a support plan to assist game-day employees dealing with income loss during the pause to the NHL season.

WINNIPEG SUN: Following considerable public backlash, Jets chairman Mark Chipman announced the club would compensate part-time arena employees full pay for missed events.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames also reversed course under public pressure and will compensate their part-time and hourly employees.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps the Flames ownership was shamed into action after it was reported their players were donating to a fundraising page to assist those employees. The Ottawa Senators are reportedly the only Canadian team yet to announce any support plan for their employees.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators center Nick Bonino took to social media to urge the city’s citizens to stay away from large gatherings to prevent spreading the coronavirus. “There is no excuse,” he wrote. “We have a chance to lock down our cities now, close restaurants and bars, or, if safe, only offer takeout/delivery, anything to slow the spread.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Swedish Ice Hockey Association canceled the remainder of its season.

THE SCORE: The KHL is defending its decision to continue its playoffs despite one of its best teams (Jokerit) dropping out over coronavirus concerns. “The (COVID-19) pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, and in this regard, KHL is in consultation with clubs and all relevant authorities to diligently manage the impact of this matter.”

DEADSPIN: Now that quarantines are going into effect, Jesse Spector is revisiting old video games like NES Hockey.