NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2020

The NHL postpones Thursday and Friday games to protest racial injustice, plus the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Tkachuk in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The National Hockey League yesterday postponed its Thursday and Friday playoff games after the players on the eight remaining postseason clubs decided not to play to protest systemic racism and police brutality.

The decision was announced in a joint statement yesterday by the league and the NHL Players’ Association. Players from each of the four Eastern Conference and Western Conference teams held joint news conferences in Toronto and Edmonton expressing their support of players in other leagues boycotting games in protest.

“Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice,” the NHL and NHLPA said. “We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment. We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.

“In this moment, the NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”

Tom Gulitti reports Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves played an integral role in discussions among the players in both cities. He also praised the white players for their support.

“I think if you look around this room, there’s a lot of white athletes in here, and I think that’s the statement that’s being made right now,” Reaves said. “It’s great that the NBA did this and the MLB and the WNBA. They have a lot of Black players in those leagues. But for all these athletes in here just to take a stand and say, ‘You know what? We see the problem too and we stand behind you,’ I’d go to war with these guys. I hate their guts on the ice, but I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. This statement that they’ve made today is something that’s going to last.”

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri expressed his hope that the next two days would allow the players to further educate themselves for the betterment of society.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson believes it’s time for the league to do more.

“We can keep using our words, keep trying to get the message, but it comes down to action,” Dickinson said.

Gulutti reports the players said they hope this shows they are united against racism and to bring about further conversations on the subject with their fans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL faced considerable criticism from the media and from fans on social media for not postponing their games on Wednesday at the same time as the NBA, MLB, WNBA and other leagues. The Hockey Diversity Alliance, which includes players of color such as Reaves, Kadri, guided the decision process that led to yesterday’s announcement by the league and the PA.

These postponements weren’t prompted by the leagues or their team owners. It was a result of their players’ boycotting the games or threatening to do so.  That’s why the NHL received so much criticism. 

It remains to be seen if these actions will lead to these leagues living up to their stated intent to become a more positive influence for societal change going forward. If so, will the leagues’ take the initiative, or will they once again be forced into doing so by their players?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski examined the factors that led to Marc-Andre Fleury losing his starter’s role with the Vegas Golden Knights, prompting his agent to post an image of his client with a photoshopped blade through his back with the name of head coach Peter DeBoer on the blade. Fleury played just one game in the round-robin and one in the first round of the playoffs.

The Golden Knights addition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was portrayed as shoring up their backup goaltending if anything happened to Fleury. However, DeBoer began saying he had two starters heading into the playoffs. While the Golden Knights’ coach spoke of goalie rotation during the playoffs, that hasn’t happened yet. Wyshynski also noted the club’s director of goaltending Dave Prior was relieved of his duties following the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski believes the Golden Knights’ crease should’ve belonged to Fleury to start the playoffs. DeBoer feels otherwise and it appears he has management’s support. 

Fleury struggled at times during the season which I believe led to the acquisition of Lehner., who played well down the stretch and garnered enough trust from DeBoer to earn the bulk of the starts thus far. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation unfolds over the rest of the playoffs and into the off-season.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is defending his teammates, especially Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, from criticism by fans and pundits blaming them for the club’s early playoff exit.

I just couldn’t believe some of the criticism some guys on my team were getting for this and getting the blame for this. Especially the criticism towards Johnny and Monny, it makes me sick. It really upsets me and pisses me off.

Tkachuk acknowledged he and the rest of the Flames’ best players didn’t do enough to get past the first round but shouldered the blame for the lack of production. “Everyone was upset at them (Gaudreau and Monahan) for offensive production. Well, they produced more offense than me. So put the blame on me.” He felt he didn’t do enough to put the club over the top when he was in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meet the future captain of the Calgary Flames. 










Potential Problem Areas In The New NHL CBA

Potential Problem Areas In The New NHL CBA

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2020

The NHL and NHLPA ratify the return-to-play plan and the CBA extension, two players opt-out, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The league and the NHLPA yesterday ratified the return-to-play plan and the extension to the collective bargaining agreement.

NHL and NHLPA ratify return-to-play plan and CBA extension (Image via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHLPA vote wasn’t close. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports 79 percent of the players were in favor (502 to 135). So much for suggestions that a majority wouldn’t approve the plan.

The 24-team playoff tournament will begin on Aug. 1 in Edmonton and Toronto. Training camps will open in each team’s local markets on Monday, July 13.

Critical dates for the tournament and the off-season are as follows:

July 13 – Training camp begins

July 26 – Teams arrive in hub cities

July 28-30 – Exhibition games

August 1 – Best-of-five qualifying round begins

August 10* – Phase 2 of the draft lottery

August 11 – First round of the playoffs begins (all playoff rounds are best-of-seven)

August 25* – Second round of the playoffs begins

September 8* – Conference Finals begins

September 22* – Stanley Cup Final begins

October 4* – Last possible date for playoffs

Oct. 9 – 10* – NHL Draft

*Subject to change

The league has released the tournament schedule. The Eastern Conference qualifier kicks off with the New York Rangers vs the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers vs the New York Islanders, and the Montreal Canadiens vs the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Western Conference opens with the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets vs the Calgary Flames. Broadcast times TBA.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the players will have until 5 pm ET Monday, July 13 to opt-out of Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan for any reason without penalty. They must do so in writing to the NHLPA and NHL Central Registry.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic has exercised his right to opt-out, citing the health of his young daughter.

TSN’S Rick Dhaliwal reports Vancouver Canucks winger Sven Baertschi has also opted out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said, we shouldn’t judge any player who decides not to participate. These are trying times and we should respect their decisions.

NHL.COM: The main details of the CBA extension include:

The salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for 2020-21 and increasing incrementally in the following years if hockey-related revenue reaches certain thresholds,

Escrow deductions from players salaries will be capped at 20 percent for 2020-21, gradually dropping to 6 percent for each of the final three seasons of the agreement,

A year will be added to the CBA (to 2026-27) if the players’ escrow debt for this season exceeds $125 million but is less than $250 million,

Players defer 10 percent of their salaries (including signing bonuses) for 2020-21, which will be repaid in equal installments over three seasons beginning in 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s my understanding this will not reduce a team’s salary-cap hit for next season. It’s a reduction in actual salary, not the cap hit.

The one-week interview period for unrestricted free agents has been permanently eliminated,

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, back to the old frenzy of general managers negotiating with player agents starting at noon ET on the opening day of the free-agent market.

All no-trade and no-movement clauses will carry with the player if he agrees to waive it to be traded. Previously, those clauses became inactive once a player agreed to waive it and was moved.

Teams won’t carry a cap charge for a player who signs a 35-and-older contract and subsequently retires before that contract expires.

Teams will no longer include conditions in trades involving the signing of the traded player to a new contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, no conditional draft picks included in the deal. It’s also still to be determined how that might affect conditional trades made before this season’s schedule was interrupted by COVID-19.

Most of the main points were previously reported and duly noted on this site. You can get the full details on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the CBA extension by following this link. There are, however, several other interesting tidbits:

Teams no longer need to wait until after the trade deadline to re-sign a player to an eight-year contract extension.

Qualifying offers for restricted free agents are no longer equal to the final year’s salary. It will instead be based on the average annual value of the contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For example, if the player’s AAV was $5 million but the final year of the contract paid him $7.5 million in actual salary, the team only has to tender a QO of $5 million.

Teams can begin to sign restricted free agents and draft picks to contracts for 2020-21 starting Monday, July 13. They can also extend players who are on contracts that expire after the end of the 2020-21 season.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reports teams that incur a performance bonus overage can distribute that penalty over the next two seasons.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Craig Custance reports of a significant change to salary arbitration. Once an arbitration hearing begins, a settlement is not allowed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In previous years, teams and players could settle following the hearing and before the arbiter reached his decision. This change should encourage both sides to hammer out an agreement before the hearing starts.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the MOU contains a paragraph indicating the NHL has the power to pro-rate or cancel salaries outright if forced to cease or reduce operations from conditions arising from a state of war or other causes beyond the league’s control.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli believes it’s likely not the league’s intention to use that clause. Nevertheless, it could go into effect if it is forced to reduce next season’s planned 82-games schedule. Something to keep in mind if that should come to pass given the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 10, 2020

Updates on the Return-to-Play plan and CBA extension, the Devils officially announced Lindy Ruff as their new head coach and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN & CBA EXTENSION UPDATES

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the return-to-play plan and CBA extension could be ratified by Friday night. The results of the NHLPA membership vote will be completed by 6 pm ET while the NHL Board of Governors will hold a conference call at 4 PM ET.

The NHL & NHLPA could ratify the return-to-play plan and CBA extension later today (Image via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The BoG call is expected to be a rubber stamp. Despite several recent reports of player unhappiness leading up to this week, media consensus is the PA membership is expected to vote its approval.

McKenzie wonders if there will be a big spike in positive COVID-19 tests as Phase 3 commences Monday with mandatory training camps at NHL facilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve repeatedly said Phase 3 will determine if Phase 4 (the playoff tournament) takes place. McKenzie points out the league has a fighting chance to pull this off once the teams are quarantined in Edmonton and Toronto. Getting to that point, however, could be a challenge.

During Phase 4, the Eastern Conference clubs will be housed at Hotel X on the CNE grounds and the Royal York in downtown Toronto. In Edmonton, the Western Conference teams will be housed at the JW Marriott alongside the arena and the Sutton Place hotel downtown.

The playoff games are slated for 12, 4, and 8 pm local time daily, but McKenzie indicates the Edmonton schedule could be tweaked more depending on the needs of broadcasters.

Some teams are leaning toward bringing three goalies to the tournament but more are considering bringing four. They’re also mulling whether to bring 31 players or reduced those numbers to allow for an extra staff member or two.

DEVILS HIRE RUFF AS HEAD COACH, MAKE FITZGERALD THEIR FULL-TIME GM

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils made it official yesterday, announcing Lindy Ruff will become their new head coach starting next season and removed the interim tag from general manager Tom Fitzgerald’s title.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff is known for his defensive systems, but those expecting a boring trapping style could be in for a surprise. “We played a super-fast possession type of game, which is the same type of game I’d like to bring to this Devils team with a lot of puck pressure using the skills we have to own the puck,” he told NJ.com. “And I want a team that can dominate with speed and possession, but at the same time knowing that defending is a passion that we’re going to have.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 9, 2020

The tentative schedule for the rest of this season, more tidbits from the CBA extension, Devils to hire Lindy Ruff as head coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY AND CBA EXTENSION NEWS

TSN: Frank Seravalli provided updates to the tentative key dates for the NHL’s return-to-play plan.

More details revealed of the NHL-NHLPA return-to-play plan & CBA extension (Image via NHL.com).

July 13 remains the start date for training camps under Phase 3. On July 24, teams will travel to their respective hub city for the playoff tournament under Phase 4.

July 25: Exhibition games begin

July 30: Qualifying round begins

Aug. 9: Opening round of the playoffs begins

Aug. 23: Second round begins

Sept. 6: Conference Finals begin

Sept. 20: Stanley Cup Final begins

Oct. 2: Last possible game of the Cup Final

Oct. 6: 2020 NHL Draft. The draft must be held following the end of the playoffs and before free agency begins

Oct. 9: Free Agency begins (or seven days following the end of the Stanley Cup Final, whichever is later)

Nov. 17: Training camps open for the 2020-21 season

Dec. 1: 2020-21 regular season begins

All dates are subject to change.

The NHL and NHLPA also have an agreement to abandon the return-to-play plan if the number of players opting-out on a team- or league-wide basis adversely affects the integrity of the post-season.

COLORADO SPORTS NOW: Adrian Dater reports the opt-out deadline has been extended to Monday night (July 13).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most observers doubt a large number of players will opt-out. We’ll know for certain by Monday night.

Bob McKenzie reports the summary of the memorandum of understanding lists Edmonton and Toronto as the host cities for Phase 4. The Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto and the Western Conference clubs in Edmonton. The Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final will be held in one host city but that has yet to be determined.

The final paycheck for 2019-20 that the players deferred will now be used to pay down escrow.

The late start of the 2020-21 season means the players will receive one paycheck in the fall.

ESPN: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL is working on its US broadcast plans for the 24-team playoff tournament. The qualification and round-robin games will be shown locally on regional sports networks. Discussions are ongoing over how many of the games will be shown nationally on NBC Sports Network.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unsubstantiated rumors suggested the games would be televised on pay-per-view. That’s not happening because of existing television contracts in the United States and Canada.

THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Jason Kay cited reports of an Edmonton hospital effectively shutting its doors because of a full-facility COVID-19 outbreak. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said “at this point” he doesn’t expect it’ll affect the league’s hub city announcement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think it’ll affect things as long as there’s no indication it could spread into the proposed secure area of The Ice District in Edmonton.

Some interesting CBA extension tidbits were revealed:

Frank Seravalli reports the one-week interview period for unrestricted free agents before the start of the free-agent market has been eliminated.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, it’s back to general managers working the phones with player agents trying to hammer out new contracts. I’m pleased with this development, as it will bring back the intrigue and excitement that was disappearing from the start of the free-agent period Because of the interview period, we knew where most of the top UFAs were going a day or two before the market opened. Now, it’s back to the good old guessing game as it should be. 

The maximum entry-level base salary will rise to $950K for 2022-23 and 2023-24, then to $975K for 2024-25 and 2025-26, and $1 million for 2026-27. Entry-level bonuses will also increase.

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie reports trade conditions that make it harder for a player to re-sign with the team that acquired him won’t be allowed. For example, if a player is traded for a third-round pick but it becomes a first if the player signs with his new club.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports clubs that have a performance overage for this season will have the option to evenly distribute it between 2020-21 and 2021-22 (50 percent each season).

IN OTHER NEWS…

NORTHJERSEY.COM: cites NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes reporting the New Jersey Devils are expected to name Lindy Ruff as their new head coach. Ruff is an assistant coach with the New York Rangers and is the former head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars. The Devils are also expected to make interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald their full-time GM.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff’s hiring is garnering mixed reactions from Devils fans. Supporters cite his experience and success in Buffalo, while detractors consider him the wrong coach for a rebuilding club. 

Fitzgerald earned his opportunity as the full-time GM, going a good job in difficult circumstances on short notice following the midseason firing of Ray Shero.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: George Richards reports Chris Pronger has stepped down as the Florida Panthers senior VP of hockey operations to focus on his family’s high-end travel agency business.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo cites a source reporting Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin is willing to sign prospect Kirill Kaprizov for 2019-20 and burn the first year of his three-year entry-level deal if Kaprizov is willing to do so. Under the terms of the CBA extension, he wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the upcoming playoff tournament.










Key Details in The NHL & NHLPA Return-to-Play and CBA Extension Agreement

Key Details in The NHL & NHLPA Return-to-Play and CBA Extension Agreement