NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 15, 2020
The latest league news, how some teams are looking after its arena workers affected by the pause in the schedule, how this unexpected break will help several banged-up rosters, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL GMs had a conference call with the league this afternoon. Much of it was going over the memo the NHL sent out yesterday regarding guidelines for the pause (players staying home for how, perhaps cleared to skate at team facilities later on, TBD when, in small groups, etc.)
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 14, 2020
As far as I can tell, there was no talk on the call today about how a potential schedule/playoffs would look like if/when NHL resumed. Still too early for that conversation with GMs. All about self-isolation right now. — Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 14, 2020
Notable item from today’s NHL call with GMs: the league instructed teams to make sure to pay all their AHL players through the season suspension. Same as instructed yesterday in terms of paying NHL players.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 14, 2020
The NHL and NHLPA are expected to send advisories to teams and players as early as tonight after Canada’s foreign affairs ministry earlier today urged Canadians to return to Canada while flights remain available. — Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) March 14, 2020
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the NHL will do whatever it takes to return to action and award a Stanley Cup champion this season, even if it means playing just a shortened playoff schedule without spectators. Doing so would allow the league to at least collect media-rights fees from broadcasting those games,
If the season is canceled, the full 2020-21 season will proceed as usual, though the 2020 NHL Draft could become a teleconference affair. Buyouts and free agency would continue as normal, though the league and the NHL Players Association would have to agree to an artificial salary cap. If the number is the same as last season or lower, amnesty buyouts might have to be implemented to make the system work.
Should the league return to action and the playoffs extend into July, next season’s schedule will have to change, as will the dates for contract buyouts, free agency and the draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rules regarding trades aren’t mentioned, but if the league returns to action in May or even June, I expect they’ll follow the usual off-season template. In other words, no trades over the rest of the regular season. When the post-season starts, non-playoff clubs will be allowed to make trades with each other, followed by clubs that are eliminated from post-season play. Once the playoffs are finished, everyone can get trade freely, though they’ll likely all wait until the salary cap for next season is determined.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks are joining several NHL clubs in ensuring its arena staff adversely affected by the postponement of the NHL schedule receive compensation.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula are also ensuring their arena staff continues to be paid. They’re also having their staff work from home if possible.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has committed to relief for his arena’s part-time employees. “They’re pulling together who works consistently, how many games are we actually going to miss,” Dundon said. “We’ll do something, though.”
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins parent company is “actively exploring support options” for their associates (arena employees). Meanwhile, several Bruins players have donated to a GoFundMe campaign to support TD Garden employees affected by the schedule postponement.
TSN: The Edmonton Oilers announced plans to help its employees make up the difference between their regular salaries and what employment insurance covers. The Calgary Flames, however, indicated it won’t assist their part-time, hourly, and event staff who will be underemployed during the suspension of the NHL season.
Remember when the Calgary Flames had their hand out for arena funding and talked about what great local citizens they were and how they created so many jobs for the Calgary economy? What a nice look for them to bail on the people who hold those jobs so quickly.
— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) March 14, 2020
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets ownership is doubling down on its decision not to pay their staff affected by the schedule shutdown.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a good look for the Jets during a pandemic. The club’s billionaire owner could easily afford to compensate those workers. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any significant backlash.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The pause in the NHL schedule could help the banged-up Blue Jackets get some players back in time for when (if?) play resumes this season. Among the sidelined are Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson, and Oliver Bjorkstand.
DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche could also benefit from this layoff. “Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Matt Calvert all were on “mid-March” return schedules, and superstar center Nathan MacKinnon is already a week into his projected one- to two-week absence.”
VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks could also have a healthier roster if the league resumes play in a few weeks. Their sidelined players include Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev and Jay Beagle.
SPORTSNET: The ECHL canceled the remainder of their season and playoffs.
NBC SPORTS: Jokerit has pulled out of the KHL playoffs over coronavirus concerns.