NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2020

Latest scheduling speculation, the effect of lost revenue upon players’ salaries, no front office or coaching changes for the Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

COVID-19 AND THE NHL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly maintains the league must stage a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21. However, Daly told LeBrun that wouldn’t preclude delaying the start of next season into November if the 2020 playoffs are staged in July and August.

Could the NHL delay the start of 2020-21 to November?

Bob McKenzie reports International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel isn’t optimistic about staging the 2020 World Championships in Switzerland. Fasel’s still awaiting official word from the Swiss government, but McKenzie believes it’s obvious the tournament will be canceled.

The Memorial Cup, set for Kelowna from May 22-31, probably won’t be held at that time. Nevertheless, the CHL isn’t writing off the playoffs. The Kelowna Rockets have reserved ice space for June if the tournament is to be moved back a month.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL informed the NHL Players Association that revenue losses stemming from the current schedule pause over coronavirus concerns could be a best-case low of a couple of hundred million to a worst-case $1 billion.

Escrow clawbacks under the best case would rise by four percent but would surge as much as 21 percent under the worst case. That would be added to the 14 percent already clawed back from players’ salaries this season. Under the best case, the players would receive 82 percent of the face value of their contracts for this season, or 65 percent under the worst case.

Brooks believes that’s why some players are pitching the idea of resuming the season, with the Stanley Cup playoffs held in August and September. The PA is exploring options to mitigate that increase to put before its membership. They include rolling this year’s escrow into next season, returning the refund due for 2018-19, adding the projected increase to the remaining two paychecks owed to the players this season, or deferring escrow over a period of years when the new US television deal kicks in.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how responsive the league will be to whatever escrow proposal the PA puts forward. Given the unique situation, perhaps the league will be receptive. After all, they’ll still get their escrow money, it’s just that the PA wants to lessen the hit to their membership.

SPORTSNET: Eric Francis reports uncertainty over COVID-19 and its effect upon the sports world has NHL players leaning more than ever on their agents for support and guidance.

TORONTO SUN:. With leagues’ schedules paused or canceled and travel limited, Michael Traikos reports the coronavirus has affected how NHL scouts evaluate prospects. It could turn the 2020 NHL Draft into more of a crapshoot.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers yesterday reported Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said there will be no changes to the front office or coaching staff following yet another disappointing season. President John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, and head coach Jeremy Colliton will all return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers, like Powers’ colleague Mark Lazerus, doesn’t see any significant improvement ahead for the Blackhawks. “When the Blackhawks are ambivalent, you potentially get years of mediocrity, with no end in sight,” he wrote. I’ll have more on the Blackhawks in the Rumors section.

NHL.COM: San Jose Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner expects to return as head coach next season. Boughner took over after Peter DeBoer was fired on Dec. 11. Their record since the coaching change was 14-20-3 before the schedule was paused on March 12.










The Best NHL Players You Didn’t Know Played for Your Favorite Team: Pacific Division

The Best NHL Players You Didn’t Know Played for Your Favorite Team: Pacific Division

 










Sedins Could Face Pressure to Accept a Trade

Sedins Could Face Pressure to Accept a Trade

Entering the final season of their contracts, the Sedins could face calls from Vancouver Canucks fans to waive their no-movement clauses.

Long-time Vancouver Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin will be unrestricted free agents next summer. After spending their entire 16-season NHL careers in Vancouver, 2017-18 could be their final campaign with the Canucks.

The twins turn 37 on Sept. 26 and their best years are behind them. Daniel’s 44-point effort in 2016-17 was his lowest in a non-lockout year since tallying 31 points in 2002-03. Henrik’s 50 points matched his 2013-14 output under then-coach John Tortorella’ defense-first system and was his lowest since his 42-point campaign in 2003-04.

Approaching the twilight of their professional careers, the Sedins are the Canucks’ greatest players (with all due respect to Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden), though it will take some time for their harshest critics – many of them Canucks fans – to accept that fact. They’re the franchise leaders in most offensive categories.

Given their pending free-agent status and the Canucks’ current rebuilding process, it’s doubtful the Sedins factor into the club’s plans beyond this season. Management could simply part company with the twins next July. However, they could also attempt to trade one or both before the Feb. 26, 2018 trade deadline.

Daniel Sedin recently said he and his brother do not want to be traded. Indeed, they appear keen to retire as Canucks. General manager Jim Benning claims he has no intention of trading the duo unless they ask to be moved.

There’s no reason to doubt the sincerity of either side on that issue. However, if the Sedins have a decent season and the Canucks are out of playoff contention come February, a postseason contender could come calling with a package offer for one or both players that could speed up Vancouver’s rebuilding process.

That might persuade Benning to approach the twins and gauge their willingness to accept a trade to a possible Stanley Cup contender. Even if Benning stands by his pledge not to move the Sedins unless they approach him first, any report claiming he received a tantalizing offer will prompt many Vancouver fans and pundits to call upon the Canucks GM to convince the Sedins to accept a trade. 

There will be those who feel the Sedins should remain loyal to the Canucks and finish their careers with the only NHL team they’ve known. Others, however, will insist they “do the right thing” and “put the team first” by accepting a trade.

It’s the same scenario Hall of Fame center Mats Sundin, the Sedins’ fellow countryman and one-time teammate, faced during his final season with the Toronto Maple Leafs a decade ago.

Like the Sedins, Sundin was nearing both the end of his contract and NHL playing career, the bulk of which he’d spent with the Leafs.

As the Leafs floundered through a disappointing 2007-08 season, there were calls for Sundin to be shipped to a Cup contender for a package of draft picks and young talent. The Detroit Red Wings, then a league powerhouse that went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, were believed to be among the interested parties.

Sundin, however, wasn’t comfortable with being a rental player and refused to waive his no-trade clause. Rather than earn praise for his loyalty from Leafs fans, many were infuriated, accusing their captain and long-time franchise player of selfishness.

The Sedins can expect similar treatment if they follow Sundin’s example, especially if the Canucks are out of contention by the trade deadline. 

If the Sedins insist on finishing the season, and their careers, with the Canucks, they’ve earned that right. No one should fault them for using their no-movement clauses in their contracts to stay in Vancouver.

Linden and Benning didn’t sign the Sedins to those deals but they have obviously decided to honor them. Judging by their recent remarks, they feel the twins are still an important part of the team this season.

Perhaps if the Canucks were the dominant club they were earlier in this decade, there wouldn’t be any suggestion of the club trading their fading franchise players. 

If the Canucks exceed expectations in 2017-18 and contend for a playoff berth, there probably won’t be much pressure from the Vancouver faithful to shop the Sedins. But if the Canucks are out of contention by February, those calls will get louder.

Leafs fans eventually forgave Sundin, who is considered among the greatest players in franchise history. Canucks fans will also do the same for the Sedins if they also refused to waive their no-trade clauses. But in the short term, the potential end of the twins’ long career in Vancouver could become a rocky one.