NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 5, 2020

More details on the return-to-play plan and CBA extension, an update on the Blues’ COVID-19 tests, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reported yesterday the NHL and NHLPA were closing in on a tentative memorandum of understanding on an all-encompassing six-year extension on the collective bargaining agreement and a return-to-play plan to complete this season.

Could an agreement between the NHL and NHLPA be announced today? (Image via NHL.com).

It requires ratification by the NHL Board of Governors and the full NHLPA membership. The latter would require 72 hours to vote.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli said if an agreement was announced on Saturday the players’ vote could begin electronically on Monday. As of this update, there’s no sign of this agreement, though that delay could be due to yesterday’s American Independence Day holiday. 

Seravalli listed the pertinent details of the proposed agreement, including the critical dates of the return-to-play plan, the term of the CBA (end of 2025-26 with a possible one-year extension), Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 pending negotiations with the IOC and IIHF, a cap on escrow (20 percent next season and gradually dropping to six percent for the final three seasons), freezing the salary cap at $81.5 million until league revenue returns to $4.8 billion, and outlawing front-loaded contracts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Further details on those and other issues were revealed from other sources on Friday evening. You can read about them in Saturday’s morning coffee headlines.

Other notable points include the players receiving a post-career health care subsidy of between $3,500.00 and $5,000.00 per player, the opportunity for players to rehab long-term injuries in a city or place of their choice unless the team can prove that rehab isn’t possible there, and no requirement for players who played in Europe to pass through waivers to return to the NHL provided they sign their NHL contract by Dec. 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The last one is a significant change. In the past, a player who skated with a European team at the start of the season who subsequently signed an NHL contract could be plucked off the waiver wire by a rival club.

Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, reported the NHL remains focused on a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21 beginning in December or January. That would mean the Stanley Cup Final could be played sometime next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have to get through this season first. If the return-to-play plan is carried out to its hopeful conclusion, the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the first week of October. The 2020 Draft will be held in mid-to-late October, and the free-agent market would open Nov. 1.

Earlier reports speculated the league would kick off next season on New Year’s Day with the 2021 Winter Classic in Minnesota. That would mean training camps would have to open in early-December, meaning the clubs that reach the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final under the return-to-play plan will have a very short off-season.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports further details were provided on the multiple Blues who tested positive for COVID-19. A source said it was four players and one coach. The problem may have started over a week ago when several members of the team visited a local bar. One player soon tested positive, followed by another player and a coach, and then two more players.

It’s unknown if any of the five displayed symptoms or were asymptomatic. Some of them could miss the start of the training camp period in Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan slated for July 13.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said these and other positive tests weren’t necessarily surprising.

I think it’s fair to say that our experience to this point is consistent with what we expected,” he said via email. “We didn’t go down this road thinking we were not going to see any positives. Of course, we were going to see positives.

Daly cited factors such as players spread out across the globe, their individual behaviors, locations, conditioning, and modes of travel. He stressed the importance of “conservative approaches and response management” is critical at this point.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s approach has always been that isolated cases, especially those involving asymptomatic players, wouldn’t derail the return-to-play plan. That will be put to the test under Phase 3 when the players return to their NHL cities for mandatory training camps. While the teams will be undertaking strict health and self-distancing protocols, the players will be under greater risk of exposure in those cities than they will in the two hub cities for Phase 4.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports a source claims Brent Seabrook hopes to rejoin the Chicago Blackhawks if play continues later this summer. The 35-year-old defenseman underwent surgeries on his right shoulder and both hips earlier this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook won’t be the only player sidelined at the time the schedule was interrupted by COVID-19 who could return to action in the proposed playoff tournament. Others include Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Columbus’ Seth Jones, the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider, and Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2020

More reaction to the draft lottery results, plus the latest on Bruce Boudreau, Chris Kreider, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Bob Wojnowski believes the Red Wings got burned by what he considers the NHL’s draft lottery buffoonery. The Wings had this season’s worst record but fell to fourth overall in the draft order as a placeholder club took the top spot in Phase 1 of the lottery draw on Friday.

The results of the 2020 NHL Draft lottery has sparked criticism of the process (Photo via NHL.com).

You put your fate in random acts, expect random, inexplicable results,” writes Wojnowski, going on to call the lottery “an embarrassment”. He noted the Wings had an 18.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery, yet the odds were a combined 24.5 percent that one of the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying round of the upcoming 24-team playoff tournament would get the prize. “And here’s the ridiculous part: it’s exactly what the NHL planned to happen.”

THE TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox believes the NHL Draft hasn’t made much sense for years. He thinks Friday’s lottery results destroyed the belief that it’s about fairness of competition, allowing weaker teams an opportunity to compete with stronger clubs.

Cox suggests there’s little evidence the draft helps weaker clubs. “In most cases, they’re weak because they’re badly run,” he said. Cox makes the case for a free market system allowing the top prospects to sign with whoever they choose once they turn 18. He feels it would motivate teams to improve how they run their operations as a way to woo the best young talent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The anger felt by Red Wings fans over the results of the lottery is understandable, but even if this had been a normal draft year, there’s a good chance the lottery balls still wouldn’t have fallen their way. In 2017, for example, the Colorado Avalanche were the league’s worst team but dropped to fourth as the Devils won the lottery.

That’s cold comfort for the Wings and their fans, but they could still end up with a very good player, perhaps a potential superstar, with the No. 4 pick. Just like the Avs did when they selected Cale Makar three years ago.

Don’t expect the NHL to take up Cox’s suggestion to scrap the draft in favor of an open market. The last thing they want is the best prospects clustering toward a handful of clubs.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo reports former Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is hoping this season won’t be his last as an NHL bench boss.

The plan was when we signed here that this was it for me, and this is where we were going to end up. Even though I hope it’s not, it’s just tough when it goes this way.”

Boudreau has two years remaining in an advisory role with the Wild, but he doesn’t know if general manager Bill Guerin will take advantage of it.

NEWSDAY: New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider (broken foot) and Micheal Haley (torn abdominal muscle) have fully recovered from their injuries and ready to return to action.

STLTODAY.COM: Recently retired NHL player Chris Thorburn hopes to mentor young pros.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2020

Brendan Shanahan and Bill Guerin remain optimistic the season will resume, the latest on Chris Kreider, the league rejects the Blue Jackets’ signing Mikhail Grigorenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan believes the sidelined NHL 2019-20 season could resume at some point in the coming months. He indicated there’s plenty of determination between team owners and players to return to action, but he also stressed it would be determined by having health care services becoming better prepared to cope with and contain the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, Shanahan feels the NHL has more flexibility to resume its schedule than most people realize. “I don’t really believe stories of these crazy neutral sites. I still always think if we’re going to do this it’s going to be in a hockey market. A market where the infrastructure for putting on hockey and hockey games is available.” Shanahan doubts the season would resume with fans in attendance, but feels there would be an appetite for games on television.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin also believes the season will resume in empty arenas later this year. “The bottom line is, we’re not doing anything unless it’s safe for everybody. And if it is, I think we will, and I think it would be the right thing to do. It’ll be a little unusual, a little unorthodox, but that’s OK. If we just wrap our arms around it and accept it, it will be fine. Once we start playing hockey, you play hockey.”

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider is recovering well from a foot fracture (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics will consider Shanahan’s and Guerin’s comments as wishful thinking. Perhaps it is, but it reflects the genuine desire among the league and the NHL Players’ Association to complete the season, award the Stanley Cup, and recoup some of their lost revenue. The course of the coronavirus, however, remains the determining factor.

ESPN.COM: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider said his recovery from a foot fracture is going well. He anticipates he’ll be ready to return to the lineup if the NHL season resumes this summer.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blues Jackets signing Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year, $1.2- million contract yesterday was rejected by the NHL Central Registry. The Jackets issued a statement indicating it was due to a misunderstanding over the window for filing contracts. “We have been in contact with the league and Dan Milstein, Grigorenko’s agent, and the contract will be re-filed on July 1.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grigorenko finished his contract with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow and is considered an unrestricted free agent. However, the Jackets cannot officially sign him until July 1, which is when the league’s free-agent period begins. That date could change depending on whether the league resumes its season this summer. Grigorenko could sign with another NHL club, but I think he’ll stick with the Jackets as they refile in July or later this summer.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford indicated everyone in his club’s various hockey operations departments have been regularly discussing contingency plans for the remainder of the season, including the draft and free agency. He said they’ve been talking four or five days a week.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have held calls with their players to review the season and looking ahead. “We had 15, 20 minutes per guy, talking,” said head coach Rick Tocchet. “It’s not exit meetings because I still believe that we’re going to play in the next couple months, I’m trying to be optimistic. But I think it’s important that you stay connected with the team. I know it’s a little harder to do that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I suspect every club is doing the same as the Penguins and Coyotes. Talking to their players while the hockey ops map out its plans for resuming the season and the off-season.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators hired Anthony LeBlanc as their president of business operations. The former Blackberry executive served as president, chief executive officer and alternate governor of the Arizona Coyotes from 2013 to 2017. LeBlanc replaced Jim Little, who was fired six weeks ago after less than two months on the job followed a heated disagreement with team owner Eugene Melnyk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck ot LeBlanc in his new job. He’s gonna need it.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2020

Flyers on the rise, salary cap could significantly increase next season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers picked up their seventh straight victory by beating the Washington Capitals 5-2. Kevin Hayes and Ivan Provorov each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers (85 points) as they moved to within one point of the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals. It was a costly win, as winger James van Riemsdyk is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a broken hand blocking a shot. The Flyers have 16 victories in their last 21 games, while the Capitals have just four in their last 10 outings.

James van Riemsdyk was sidelined during the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers are surging at the right time and could supplant the slumping Capitals atop the Metro. They’re a deeper team thriving under head coach Alain Vigneault this season. It’ll be interesting to see how they cope without van Riemsdyk, who tallied 31 points in his last 41 contests.

An overtime goal by T.J. Brodie gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. With 77 points, the Flames opened a three-point lead over the Vancouver Canucks for third place in the Pacific Division. The Jackets (78 points) picked up a point to move into the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 2-1 deficit to double up the Canucks 4-2. Carl Soderberg and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each had a goal and an assist as the Coyotes (74 points) moved into a three-way tie with the Canucks and Winnipeg Jets, though the latter two hold the last two wild-card berths with 34 wins each.

Rickard Rakell’s overtime tally lifted the Anaheim Ducks over the Colorado Avalanche 4-3, snapping the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists. Colorado has 88 points, two behind the Central Division-leading St. Louis Blues.

HEADLINES

The salary cap for 2020-21 could rise to between $84 million to $88 million, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. The cap is currently at $81.5 million. The increase will depend upon the NHLPA triggering its annual escalator clause. Daly also said the league is discussing a formula with the PA that could provide general managers with an annual cap figure earlier than they do now. That formula is part of ongoing CBA extension talks with the Players’ Association.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I assumed the cap could reach $84 million next season, but that potentially higher total surprised me. It will certainly benefit clubs with limited salary-cap space, such as the Arizona Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk required 90 stitches after being struck near his left eye in the face by a skate blade during Tuesday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens. His eye was undamaged, but he’ll remain sidelined until the swelling goes down and his eye opens again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boychuk wears a visor, but it couldn’t provide full facial protection from a fluke injury like that.

CBS SPORTS: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider faces a four-to-six week recovery from a broken foot suffered last week against the Flyers.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators dismissed CEO Jim Little following what he described as a heated argument he had with team owner Eugene Melnyk. A team source claimed cited “a pattern of behavior, not just one incident, among other things,” that led to Little’s dismissal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That source’s name wouldn’t rhyme with “Meugene Elnyk”, would it?

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The NHL is prohibiting its employees from making work-related trips outside North America over concerns about the coronavirus.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 29, 2020

Chris Kreider sidelined with a fractured foot, the red-hot Golden Knights and Flyers continue their winning ways and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jakub Voracek tied a career-high with four assists as the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the New York Rangers 5-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game road winning streak. Claude Giroux also scored twice as the Flyers (81 points) moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly loss for the Rangers (74 points) as winger Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot in the first period. They remain two points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot on Friday against the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lengthy absence for Kreider could prove fatal to the Rangers’ playoff hopes. He sits third among the Blueshirts in goals (24) and provides a physical presence to their forward lines.

The Flyers vaulted over the Pittsburgh Penguins (80 points), who dropped a 3-2 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 28 saves as the Ducks held on for the win. Jason Zucker scored both goals for the Penguins, who’ve lost five straight games.

Netminder Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots for his first victory with the red-hot Vegas Golden Knights by doubling up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Reilly Smith tallied twice for the Golden Knights (80 points), who’ve won eight straight and hold a six-point lead atop the Pacific Division. Vegas winger Mark Stone missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock kicked out 24 shots to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-0, with Zach Parise scoring a goal and setting up two others. The Wild (71 points) are just one point out of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Jackets have lost 10 of their last 11 games and cling to the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 76 points. Jackets winger Alexander Wennberg returned to action for the first time in 12 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These are two teams going in different directions. The Wild have won six of their last 10 and are rising in the Western standings, while the Blue Jackets are danger of tumbling out of a playoff spot.

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their fifth straight win by edging the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Avs goalie Pavel Francouz turned aside 45 shots while Tyson Jost tallied two goals. Colorado (83 points) moved three points ahead of the Dallas Stars for second place in the Central Division. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho extended his points streak to 14 games. Carolina sits two points behind the Blue Jackets.

HEADLINES

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine remains doubtful for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Laine took a shot off his foot in Wednesday’s win over Washington. X-rays revealed he didn’t suffer any broken bones.

SPORTSNET: Oilers defenseman Mike Green will be sidelined three-four weeks with a knee injury.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders loaned winger Josh Ho-Sang to the St. Louis Blues’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Sources also say the Islanders will play all their playoff games this season and next at Nassau Coliseum, as well as their entire 2020-21 regular-season schedule. The Isles are expected to begin playing in their new arena at Belmont Park in 2021-22.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The AHL approved the transfer of ownership of the San Antonio Rampage to the Golden Knights, “as well as the relocation of the franchise to Henderson/Las Vegas.”










What We Learned This Week In The NHL: Post-Trade Deadline Edition

What We Learned This Week In The NHL: Post-Trade Deadline Edition