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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2020

Latest on potential hub cities plus updates on Oskar Lindblom, Ryan Graves, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

UPDATE ON POTENTIAL NHL HOST CITIES

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minneapolis/St. Paul, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Dallas were ruled out as possible host cities for the NHL’s 24-team playoff tournament later this summer. Six cities – Las Vegas, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Chicago, and Los Angeles – remain in the running.

CNE Grounds in Toronto.

Toronto appears to be outside its western Canadian cousins. The city resubmitted its bid over the weekend, proposing a 40-acre Olympic Village-like bubble on the CNE Grounds where the players would have access to BMO Field, Coca-Cola Coliseum (home of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies), and the Toronto Raptors practice facility.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports New York City was under consideration as a hub city, but establishing and maintaining an appropriate quarantine bubble was unsustainable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Edmonton are said to be the favorites. The league is expected to make an official announcement by week’s end.

VANCOUVER SUN: The government of British Columbia confirms only NHL players and team officials will be part of the cohort quarantine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Families of players could travel to the two hub cities, but will remain separated by the quarantine bubble. How they’ll be able to spend time together is a concern among a number of players. It’ll be interesting to see how this issue is addressed if the next two phases of the return-to-play plan are approved.

SPORTSNET: Canucks general manager Jim Benning hopes to have all his players return to Vancouver this week in preparation for the start of training camp on July 10.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo took to Twitter to report all the Minnesota Wild’s European players will be back in town by Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All 24 NHL teams participating in the playoff tournament expect their players to return to their respective team cities by Friday. That will allow a 14-day quarantine period before Phase 3 commences in two weeks’ time.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Over six months after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom resumed skating with several teammates. Lindblom is completing his treatments and isn’t expected to participate in the playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a good sign Lindblom feels strong enough to being skating again. It probably gave the youngster a tremendous physical and mental lift to return to the ice.

Some folks on social media questioned the Flyers allowing Lindblom to take part in small-group training. General manager Chuck Fletcher said every player and staff member must follow strict social distancing guidelines, pointing out the practice facility is a very safe environment. Lindblom also likely had his doctors’ approval.

SPORTSDAY: cites an interview Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns gave to The Athletic detailing his 22-month absence from the NHL as he recovered from head trauma. His journey included battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to the Stars lineup on Jan. 18, netting five points in 17 games before the schedule was paused by COVID-19. He’s the Stars’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves is so excited about returning to play that he drove 2,500 miles from Prince Edward Island to Denver. He chose to drive rather than fly as it would allow him to resume skating at the Avalanche’s practice facility soon after arrival. 

Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad (spinal surgery) could be ready to return to the lineup if the Penguins make a deep run in the playoffs.

TSN: Rimouski’s Alexis Lafreniere, Mannheim’s Tim Stutzle, and Sudbury’s Quinton Byfield top Bob McKenzie’s ranking of this year’s top prospects. The NHL Draft Lottery will be held this Friday. Depending on when the playoff tournament ends, the draft could be held in October or November.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports New York Rangers assistant coach Lindy Ruff is among the candidates to become head coach of the New Jersey Devils. Ruff spent 15 years as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and four seasons as the Dallas Stars’ bench boss.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks promoted Martin Madden as their new assistant general manager. Madden was their director of amateur scouting.