NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2020
Reaction to the Blackhawks firing president John McDonough, more on the league’s attempts to resume the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
BLACKHAWKS FIRE MCDONOUGH
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Chicago Blackhawks made a surprising move yesterday by firing John McDonough after 13 seasons as team president and CEO. Team chairman Rocky Wirtz issued a statement saying the move was based on the requirement for a “new mindset to successfully transition the organization to win both on and off the ice.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have declined since winning their last Stanley Cup in 2015, prompting speculation suggesting Wirtz could shake up the front office and coaching staff. He gave McDonough, general manager Stand Bowman, and head coach Jeremy Colliton a vote of confidence earlier this season, but it’s apparent he’s had time to reconsider during the ongoing pause to this NHL season.
It’ll be interesting to see if more changes are coming to the Blackhawks organization. This unexpected move sparked some to suggest Wirtz’s popularity among Chicago fans could change, while others wondered about the effect upon the futures of Bowman and Colliton.
LATEST ON THE NHL’S PLANS TO RESUME THE SCHEDULE
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still determining if it’ll wait until it’s safe and permissible for all 31 teams to reopen practice facilities or if it’ll do so in waves. Sources indicate several teams are aiming to reopen their facilities for small-group practices by May 15, but that might not be possible in every jurisdiction.
Johnston also revealed possible timelines for what the schedule could look like in the coming months. May 15 to 31 would see informal, small-group skates, followed by training camps and exhibitions games in June. The remainder of the regular-season schedule and the playoffs would run from July 1 to Sept. 30. A compressed off-season calendar would run from Oct. 1 to mid-November, followed by training camps opening for 2020-21, with next season beginning in mid- to late-December.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That timeline isn’t carved in stone. The course of this pandemic will determine how that potential schedule plays out. League officials insist they’ll resume action only when it’s safe to do so.
ESPN.COM: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon believes this season should be completed this summer assuming there’s sufficient testing for COVID-10. He also feels the 2020-21 season should start when fans are allowed to return to the arenas. The Hurricanes are among several clubs examining the economic impact of capping attendance at a lower capacity for next season.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reports one of Canada’s leading experts on infectious diseases believes the NHL’s plan to resume play this summer could have legs if it works in concert with public health officials. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an associate professor in the faculty of medicine at the University of Toronto, believes the plan could work provided there’s a sustained decline in COVID-19 cases.
“It’s going to be a value judgment on behalf of many different groups,” said Bogoch. “This is truly shared decision-making. You can look at all the data and what the proposal is and at the end of the day those groups together will have to decide together, is it worth it, yes or no?”
THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers reports player agents Kurt Overhardt and KO Sports associate Brian Schoelzel proposed a voluntary player exemption rule that would allow NHL teams to prevent their highest-paid player from counting towards the salary cap.
Overhardt believes this would leave more money for the player’s teammates, as well as allow clubs to sign more players to make their rosters more competitive. Clubs that don’t wish to use that exemption would receive luxury-tax funds paid by teams that do participate. Overhardt’s plan would have to be part of the next collective bargaining agreement once the current one expires in 2022.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whether that exemption is part of the next CBA remains to be seen. It could gain support among NHL teams if the COVID-19 pandemic creates an adverse, long-term effect upon hockey-related revenue.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league intends to decide on when they’ll stage the 2020 Draft “relatively soon.” There’s talk the draft could be held in June before the regular season resumes in July.
Garrioch also reports the American Hockey League could announce the cancelation of the remainder of its season by May 8.
IN OTHER NEWS…
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and Philadelphia Flyers are assisting General Motors’ efforts to increase mask production for frontline works battling the coronavirus pandemic.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin made a sizable, unspecified donation to the Ronald McDonald House of Pittsburgh on Monday.
NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks unveiled a plan to provide grants to 1,800 part-time workers at the team’s arena and practice facility who are unable to work because of the pandemic.
TSN: Former NHL forward Joel Ward announced his retirement after 11 NHL seasons with the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks. In 726 games, Ward tallied 133 goals and 304 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward was an undrafted player from the Canadian college ranks who played his way into the big league. Best wishes to the former UPEI Panther in his future endeavors.