NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2020

The NHL and NHLPA formally approve a 56-game season, the Blues will reportedly name Ryan O’Reilly as team captain, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines

TSN: The NHL and NHL Players Association formally agreed yesterday to play a 56-game season commencing on Jan. 13, 2021.

The league’s aim is to return to a normal hockey calendar for the 2021-22 season.

Both sides intend to be flexible and adaptable to ensure compliance with local and national health and safety directives for their players and game-related personnel.

The new NHL divisions for 2020-21 (TSN.ca).

The league will be split into four divisions (see chart at left) for this season with no conferences. Training camp open for last season’s seven non-playoff teams on Dec. 31. The rest of the league begins camp on Jan. 3. There won’t be any exhibition games.

The playoffs will feature 16 teams in a best-of-seven, four-round format that will conclude no later than July 15. The top-four teams in each division will qualify, featuring intradivisional matchups in the first two rounds (1 vs 4, 2 vs 3). The two semifinal winners will face off in the Stanley Cup Final.

Frank Seravalli reports multiple provincial health authorities in Canada have not yet signed off on the league’s plan and protocol amid concerns over rising COVID-19 rates in several provinces. Discussions between the league and the provinces are expected to continue this week. If no agreement is reached, the seven Canadian teams could begin the season in a hub city such as Edmonton or in US cities.

Several US teams, such as the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, are expected to begin the season with a limited number of fans in their arenas.

The San Jose Sharks announced they will train and open the season in Arizona due to the ban on mass gatherings in Santa Clara County, California.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is making this change to the divisions and playoff format for this season only. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how fans respond to these changes. If the reaction is positive, perhaps the league would consider adopting them going forward.

The critical dates are as follows:

Dec: 31: Training camp opens for last season’s seven non-playoff teams,

Jan.3: Training camps open for the remaining 24 teams,

April 12: NHL trade deadline,

May 8: End of the regular season,

May 11: Stanley Cup playoffs begin,

July 15: Last possible day to award the Stanley Cup,

July 21: Seattle Kraken expansion draft,

July 23-24: NHL Draft (location to be determined),

July 28: Free agency begins,

October: 2021-22 regular season begins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of those regular-season and playoff dates could change depending on the course of the pandemic. The league intends to leave some wiggle room in the schedule for games postponed by the pandemic. The NHL Draft could be staged in Montreal as that’s where this year’s draft was supposed to be held.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Canadian teams will face off against each other 10 times in the upcoming season.

Health authorities in British Columbia have raised the most concerns over the NHL’s plan, while Ontario and Quebec have yet to formally commit. Alberta and Manitoba are believed most comfortable with the plan while Quebec Premier Francois Legault expressed his happiness – “Bonne nouvelle! (Good news!) – following yesterday’s announcement by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Vancouver Canucks seem most likely to be starting this season playing in another city. Ontario is going into a month-long province-wide lockdown on Christmas eve, which could force the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs into a hub city in Edmonton. It remains to be seen what Quebec will do. The teams in those provinces could be allowed to return to their arenas if restrictions ease over the course of the season. We’ll probably learn more before the end of this week.

Johnston’s colleague Elliotte Friedman reports training camp will consist of 36 players and an unlimited number of goaltenders. He also indicates no-movement clauses are extended through July. That will allow players who have one to use it if they wish during the expansion draft. The entry-level slide for rookies drops this season from 10 games to seven.

PUCKPEDIA: examines some interesting aspects of the transition rules for the coming season and the effects upon the salary cap for 2020-21.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson confirmed some of the team’s players skating in Europe in recent months tested positive for COVID-19. However, none who trained in San Jose tested positive. They’re not aware of any player currently prevented by the coronavirus from traveling to North America.

THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford cites sources claiming Ryan O’Reilly will be named the new captain of the St. Louis Blues. He will replace Alex Pietrangelo, who signed with the Vegas Golden Knights in October.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: O’Reilly is a perfect choice for team captain. As Rutherford points out, he’s become a leader and a core player since joining the Blues in 2018. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Blues won the 2019 Stanley Cup and the Selke Trophy in 2019.

 










Why Hasn’t An NHL Club Gone The Offer Sheet Route Yet?

Why Hasn’t An NHL Club Gone The Offer Sheet Route Yet?

 










2020 NHL Awards: Hart, Norris, and Selke Finalists

2020 NHL Awards: Hart, Norris, and Selke Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

The Norris Trophy & Selke Trophy finalists are revealed, the latest COVID-19 testing results, plus the latest on Max Domi, Charlie McAvoy, Ilya Samsonov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators are this year’s finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is a finalist for the Norris Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hedman is a former Norris winner (2018) and was a finalist last season. This is the first time as finalists for Carlson and Josi. Carlson led all defensemen in scoring, with Josi second and Hedman third.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defensive forward as voted by the PHWA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could win the Selke for a record-setting fifth time. O’Reilly won the award last season while Couturier was a finalist in 2017-18.

LATEST NHL COVID-19 TESTING RESULTS

The NHL yesterday released the results of their COVID-19 testing from last week, indicating two players tested positive for the coronavirus. Both players are self-isolating and following CDC and Health Canada guidelines. The league administered 2,618 tests to over 800 players from July 13-17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a notable improvement over the previous numbers released by the league. At that rate, the league’s chances of staging its playoff tournament in Edmonton and Toronto look very good.

This week, however, will be the crucial period, as the players have been around each other more since Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan began on July 13.

PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Max Domi rejoined his teammates yesterday after taking a week to evaluate the risks to his health associated with COVID-19. He’s a type-1 diabetic and also suffers from celiac disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi will need some time to get up to speed with his teammates. Nevertheless, his return to the lineup should provide a boost to their forward lines entering their best-of-five qualifying-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Charlie McAvoy and Chris Wagner were missing from Bruins practice yesterday, joining wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the sidelines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t elaborate as to why McAvoy and Wagner weren’t at practice due to league protocols. However, he seemed to hint at the reason behind their absence, noting that COVID-19 tests results are sometimes delayed or inconclusive. Pastrnak is out for precautionary reasons linked to possible secondary exposure to a person with the coronavirus. As per league rules, the Bruins say Kase remains unfit to participate. 

CBS SPORTS: Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov is the sole member of the roster not to participate in Phase 3 training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because of league protocols, we don’t know if Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19 or is nursing an injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist was among nine players returning to the ice yesterday after being held out of practice as a precaution for potential secondary exposure to COVID-19. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby missed practice again yesterday after leaving the ice on Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux received a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi on March 11. He will serve that suspension during the opening two games of his club’s qualifying-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

IN OTHER NEWS…

SPORTSNET: released its broadcast schedule for the qualifying round and round-robin series commencing Aug. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon reported hearing the NHL plans to put its World feed on a five-second delay to monitor the players’ language. Expect to hear plenty of bleeps given how salty their on-ice language tends to be and how clearly it will be heard without fan noise to drown it out.

Former NHL winger Alex Kovalev was named head coach of KHL team Kunlun Red Star.

Former NHL defenseman Jack McIlhargey passed away from cancer on Sunday at age 68. McIlhargey spent nine seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, and Hartford Whalers from 1974-75 to 1981-82, tallying 47 points and collecting 1,102 PIMs in 393 games. Following his playing career, he served within the Canucks system from 1984 until 2007 as a minor-league head coach and as a scout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to McIlhargey’s family, friends, and former teammates and associates.










2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

Lady Byng and Masterton Trophy finalists are announced,  Edmonton’s Rogers Place suffers some water damage, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the player who bests combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is a finalist for the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award typically goes to the most notable superstar with the lowest penalty minutes. MacKinnon had 12 PIMs this season, O’Reilly 10 and Matthews eight. However, this year’s selections stirred up some controversy.

Matthews got himself into trouble last year when he and a group of friends were accused of harassing a female security guard in Arizona. Meanwhile, some pundits were puzzled why Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (10 PIMs) was passed over as a finalist. It was also pointed out only three defensemen (Bill Quackenbush, Red Kelly, and Brian Campbell) have won the Lady Byng.

Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to action after being sidelined nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches that at times left him confined to darkened rooms battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

Lindblom’s rookie season was derailed by Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He recently completed cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.

Ryan took a leave of absence last November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. He returned to action on Feb. 25 and scored a hat trick two days later.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: A storm in Edmonton caused some water damage to Rogers Place just two weeks before it becomes a host city for the Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament. Oilers Entertainment Group issued a statement expressing confidence the incident won’t hamper its hosting efforts. Most of the damage was reportedly limited to the Ford Hall terminus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time to break out the Shop-Vacs! Seriously, though, it doesn’t appear the arena, training facilities, or dressing rooms suffered any damage.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were declared unfit to participate in practice yesterday. Both had emerged from travel quarantine earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they have COVID-19 symptoms? Did they suffer injuries preparing to return to play? No one knows because the league won’t allow teams to reveal a sidelined player’s status due to “medical privacy”. 

CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down speculation suggesting winger Johnny Gaudreau’s skating with a smaller group of players was some sort of punishment over his conditioning. “Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” claimed Treliving. He added Gaudreau’s placement with the smaller group was due to circumstances arising from the need to be cautious as the players returned from a long layoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t prevent some folks from theorizing Gaudreau’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff or stoking rumors about the winger’s future in Calgary.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko isn’t concerned about living in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “I don’t need much to live. I just need a bed and food,” he told The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is more concerned about his club’s opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup than his future. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could be playing his final games with the Wild.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines the strict pandemic protocols the Winnipeg Jets are following during Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. Defenseman Luca Sbisa explained the players aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but the rink and their homes, though they do partake in simple errands such as grocery shopping. The Jets have their own Phase 3 policies as well as those issued in a 19-page document by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 is the crucial period if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 is to take place starting in two weeks. The Jets, and the other clubs involved, are taking significant steps to ensure the health and safety of the players. Time will tell, however, if those measures prove successful.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TORONTO SUN: Long-time Leafs TV reporter Paul Hendricks is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, who’s battling cancer. Hendricks was part of Leafs TV from its infancy in the mid-1990s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hendricks and his wife during this difficult time.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rocky Thompson is stepping down as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after three seasons behind their bench. He’s expected to coach the Vegas Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate in Nevada next season.