NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2020
The standoff continues between the league and the players as speculation persists over what the 2020-21 season will look like. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports of speculation of the NHL owners canceling season if they decide they can’t go in 2020-21. The NHLPA could challenge that move in federal court as an illegal lockout but Dreger said force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances preventing the fulfillment of a contract; in this case, the collective bargaining agreement) would be applied by the owners because of the pandemic. He also said the league believes the spirit of the existing agreement provides them with cancellation protection. The owners also wouldn’t have to pay the players. However, Dreger points out neither side wants to cancel the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Player agent Allan Walsh took to Twitter yesterday disputing the force majeure idea. He claims if the owners cancel the season because the players won’t give another $300 million in concessions that it would be considered a lockout, “which is expressly prohibited by CBA article 7.1 (b).” In Walsh’s opinion, that would leave the owners at risk of facing billions of dollars in potential damages if the PA took them to court.
Walsh accused the league of soft-pedaling force majeure to the media. Maybe the owners are trying to frighten the players into making more concessions. Perhaps it’s being done to lay the groundwork against any potential media/fan backlash over a potential cancellation.
With reports claiming the NHL and the PA remain determined to stage a season, this could be just posturing by the league. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of months. There might not be a season at all if there’s no puck drop by mid-February.
Pierre LeBrun reports the PA has stuck to its guns that it hasn’t agreed to anything beyond the terms of the memorandum of understanding and the CBA extension. That could change but for now, they believe the league should stick to the terms of the agreement.
LeBrun adds the PA’s return-to-play committee has held regular conference calls but there’s some frustration on their part over a perceived lack of urgency on the league’s part.
Frank Seravalli reports the preference for both sides is opening the season in all 31 NHL arenas for revenue purposes as well as allowing players to spend more time with their families. The league recognizes it will have to be flexible with the schedule and locations because of the rising COVID-19 cases throughout North America, which could result in potential neutral-site games. Hybrid bubbles are also a backup option but not a preferred one.
LeBrun said the temporary realignment of divisions, including a Canadian division, remains locked in. However, a firm decision hasn’t been reached yet over what the three American divisions would look like.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think most of those issues will be quickly sorted out once the standoff between the NHL and NHLPA over the league’s request for increased escrow and salary deferral rates is resolved. The framework for those decisions appears to already be in place.
FOX SPORTS’ Andy Strickland reports some NHL players are delaying returns to their respective NHL cities. He believes we’re destined for a 48-game schedule hopefully beginning in late January or early February.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s pretty much the consensus among NHL pundits and most fans.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings loaned minor-league goaltender Calvin Pickard to the Vienna Capitals in Austria. He’s the 10th player the Wings have loaned overseas and could be a sign the league’s proposed Jan. 1 start date is increasingly unlikely.
SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers have 20 players loaned to European clubs, including Jesse Puljujarvi and Tyler Benson.
TSN: The ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears announced they’ve agreed to terms with free-agent goaltender Garret Sparks for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. Sparks spent parts of three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t that long ago Sparks was considered the logical backup to Leafs starter Frederik Andersen.
Calgary Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow is in good spirits following surgery on Monday to insert a feeding tube into his stomach. Snow was diagnosed with ALS in June 2019 but continues in his role with the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Snow in his battle against that terrible disease.
NBC SPORTS: The Dallas Stars revealed their all-white Reverse Retro uniforms over the weekend.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Great camouflage tactic by the Stars.