The NHL’s Most Unassailable Records
The latest roundup of the NHL’s plans during the postponement of this season and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: The NHL distributed a memo to its players yesterday outlining its plans for the coming days during the postponement of its schedule over coronavirus concerns.
The players will continue receiving their paychecks for the remainder of the season during their normal pay period. They’re also asked to self-quarantine themselves for a week in their club’s city and avoid travel, though they will be allowed to see family outside of their respective cities provided they alert their general manager.
They are to work out at home and avoid informal skates at public arenas. Players rehabbing injuries will be allowed if necessary to continue using team facilities. Following the quarantine period, the league hopes to re-open facilities for players to work on conditioning before introducing a training camp period.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said there would be no mandatory testing of players for COVID-19, but testing will be conducted if a player exhibits symptoms or becomes sick. He added the league will work in close conjunction with the NHL Players Association regarding the schedule, noting both sides can agree to extend existing contracts to accommodate the resumption of play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton believes the NHL will follow the lead of the National Basketball Association regarding the resumption of play. Both leagues share the same arenas. If the NBA returns in 30 days, the NHL could quickly follow suit.
A growing list of NHL teams will compensate their respective arena staffs for postponed games. They include the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Washington Capitals.
Florida Panther goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is pledging $100K to his club’s arena workers. His pledge will be matched by his teammates, with club ownership pledging to take care of outstanding amounts.
TVA SPORTS: No official word yet from the Montreal Canadiens regarding Bell Centre employees, but it’s expected they will also follow suit.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes the Jets must step up and do right by MTS Centre employees. Club chairman Mark Chipman said Thursday those employees aren’t full-time. “They work when we work. So, regrettably, to the extent that we’re not putting on shows and games, those people obviously would not have a call to work.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m willing to give Chipman the benefit of the doubt and suggest he was preoccupied with the fallout from the league’s announcement it was pausing the season. However, it won’t be a good look for the Jets if they won’t compensate MTS Centre workers when other NHL clubs are looking after their own.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is still counting on the 2020-21 season to begin on time and run its usual course.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NHL.COM: The Hockey Hall of Fame will be closed from March 14 to April 6 over coronavirus concerns.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Coronavirus concerns prompted the family of the late Henri Richard to close his funeral to the public. The Montreal Canadiens Hall-of-Famer passed away last week at age 84. His funeral will be Monday, March 16.
TSN: The Department of Player Safety determined New York Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux will be suspended for his hit on Colorado Avalanche winger Joonas Donskoi on Wednesday. “The precise parameters of the suspension will be determined and announced once resumption of play guidelines have been established.”
Remembering Henri Richard, the Jets move into a wild-card berth and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Henri Richard, who won a record-setting 11 Stanley Cups as a player during his 20-year career with the Montreal Canadiens, died yesterday at age 84 of Alzheimer’s disease. The younger brother of Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Henri carved out his Hall-of-Fame career as a skilled two-way center. A 10-time All-Star, Richard captained the Canadiens from 1971-72 to 1974-75, won the Masterton Trophy in 1974, and was voted one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017. He also played a franchise-record 1,258 games with the Canadiens and finished third all-time among Habs scorers with 1,046 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m old enough to recall seeing Richard play with the Canadiens whenever they appeared on Hockey Night in Canada in the early-70s. With his grey hair, the Pocket Rocket looked so old to my very young eyes back then, but he impressed me with his skating and puck-moving skills. Richard was the quintessential two-way center and one of the Canadiens’ all-time greats. Had the Selke Trophy existed during his playing career, he would’ve won it multiple times. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, and former teammates.
Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 29-save shutout as the Winnipeg Jets (76 points) blanked the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0 to move into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist. The Golden Knights (82 points) remain two ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.
Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists in the Calgary Flames 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. With the win, the Flames (79 points) to within one point of the second-place Oilers in the Pacific. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who slip two points behind the Jets.
Zack McEwen tallied twice while J.T. Miller and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks trounced the Colorado Avalanche 6-3, snapping a four-game losing skid. With 76 points, the Canucks hold the first wild-card berth with two games in hand over the Jets.
Make it three straight losses for the Toronto Maple Leafs in California as they fell 2-1 to the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 26 saves for the Ducks before leaving midway through the third with an undisclosed injury. Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci returned to the lineup after being sidelined for a month. With 79 points, the Leafs still hold a playoff spot, sitting third in the Atlantic Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If it wasn’t for the inept Florida Panthers, the Leafs would be in real danger of falling out of a playoff spot. Maybe the knowledge that the stumbling Panthers probably can’t catch them explains the Leafs’ lifeless effort in California.
The New Jersey Devils upset the St. Louis Blues 4-2, snapping the latter’s eight-game winning streak. Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 31 shots. The Blues (90 points) hold a two-point lead over the Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference standings.
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier turned aside 32 shots in a 2-1 upset of the Chicago Blackhawks. Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri scored for the Wings, while Patrick Kane replied for the Blackhawks (70 points), who failed to gain ground in the playoff race, sitting six points out of a wild-card spot in the West.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS: Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov won’t face supplemental discipline for elbowing Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo on Thursday night.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers re-signed forward Josh Archibald to a two-year extension worth $1.5 million annually.
THE SCORE: The NHL is urging its players to limit contact with fans due to the coronavirus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good idea. Too bad the league doesn’t make a similar plea every year during flu season.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed a five-year affiliating agreement that starts next season with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds.
Penguins accept White House invitation plus updates on Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Robby Fabbri & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday issued a statement announcing their intention to accept an invitation to the White House to commemorate their 2017 Stanley Cup championship.
This comes a day after President Donald Trump rescinded an invitation to the NBA’s Golden State Warrior after star Steph Curry said he and his teammates didn’t want to go. It was also in the midst of NFL protests Sunday over Trump’s derisive comments against players who take a knee during the national anthem in protest over police brutality against the African-American community.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: What was once merely a formality has become a heated subject. From what I saw yesterday on social media, the Penguins’ announcement was largely condemned by pundits and bloggers but received a mixed reaction among NHL fans. The Penguins organization are taking pains to stress they’re accepting the invitation out of tradition and is not in any way supportive of President Trump’s views, but that hasn’t appeased critics of their decision.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson suffered no structural damage to his left knee and is listed as day-to-day. He suffered the injury during a preseason game on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes are understandably relieved that Ekman-Larsson won’t be sidelined for a lengthy period. They’re already missing Jakub Chychrun (knee injury) from their blueline. Losing their best rearguard would’ve been a serious blow.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Robby Fabbri re-injured his surgically repaired left knee and is sidelined for the remainder of the preseason. He will be reevaluated in 10 days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A disappointing setback for Fabbri, who was hoping for a bounce-back performance this season.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf is looking forward to playing a preseason game in Summerside, Prince Edward Island tonight. The Sens face off in a preseason match against the New Jersey Devils in the Kraft Hockeyville Game. Phaneuf’s parents are originally from Summerside and he spends the offseason living near Cavendish, PEI. The town of O’Leary, PEI won the Hockeyville competition but the game is being played in Summerside’s Credit Union Place.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: A league review of NHL score sheets from 1917 to 1987 resulted in Canadiens legend Maurice (Rocket) Richard being credited with an additional assist, raising his career points total to 966.
THE ATHLETIC: Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Rick Dudley, Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Shaw, former NHL coach Steve Ludzik and former Buffalo Sabre Peter Ciavaglia were among several notables who took part in Craig Custance’s fascinating oral history of the now-defunct IHL’s Detroit Vipers.
Check out the latest NHL headlines for the final day of August. (more…)