NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2020

More reaction to the draft lottery results, plus the latest on Bruce Boudreau, Chris Kreider, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Bob Wojnowski believes the Red Wings got burned by what he considers the NHL’s draft lottery buffoonery. The Wings had this season’s worst record but fell to fourth overall in the draft order as a placeholder club took the top spot in Phase 1 of the lottery draw on Friday.

The results of the 2020 NHL Draft lottery has sparked criticism of the process (Photo via NHL.com).

You put your fate in random acts, expect random, inexplicable results,” writes Wojnowski, going on to call the lottery “an embarrassment”. He noted the Wings had an 18.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery, yet the odds were a combined 24.5 percent that one of the eight teams eliminated from the qualifying round of the upcoming 24-team playoff tournament would get the prize. “And here’s the ridiculous part: it’s exactly what the NHL planned to happen.”

THE TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox believes the NHL Draft hasn’t made much sense for years. He thinks Friday’s lottery results destroyed the belief that it’s about fairness of competition, allowing weaker teams an opportunity to compete with stronger clubs.

Cox suggests there’s little evidence the draft helps weaker clubs. “In most cases, they’re weak because they’re badly run,” he said. Cox makes the case for a free market system allowing the top prospects to sign with whoever they choose once they turn 18. He feels it would motivate teams to improve how they run their operations as a way to woo the best young talent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The anger felt by Red Wings fans over the results of the lottery is understandable, but even if this had been a normal draft year, there’s a good chance the lottery balls still wouldn’t have fallen their way. In 2017, for example, the Colorado Avalanche were the league’s worst team but dropped to fourth as the Devils won the lottery.

That’s cold comfort for the Wings and their fans, but they could still end up with a very good player, perhaps a potential superstar, with the No. 4 pick. Just like the Avs did when they selected Cale Makar three years ago.

Don’t expect the NHL to take up Cox’s suggestion to scrap the draft in favor of an open market. The last thing they want is the best prospects clustering toward a handful of clubs.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Michael Russo reports former Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is hoping this season won’t be his last as an NHL bench boss.

The plan was when we signed here that this was it for me, and this is where we were going to end up. Even though I hope it’s not, it’s just tough when it goes this way.”

Boudreau has two years remaining in an advisory role with the Wild, but he doesn’t know if general manager Bill Guerin will take advantage of it.

NEWSDAY: New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider (broken foot) and Micheal Haley (torn abdominal muscle) have fully recovered from their injuries and ready to return to action.

STLTODAY.COM: Recently retired NHL player Chris Thorburn hopes to mentor young pros.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2020

Phase 2 training groups expanded, update on the host city candidates, expiring player contracts tentatively extended to Oct. 31, plus the latest on John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reported the NHL will allow voluntary small-group training to expand from groups of six to 12 players effective today. It is a continuation of Phase 2 of the league’s return-to-play plan.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin reports Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares remains optimistic about the return-to-play plan despite 11 players testing positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 began on June 8. Tavares, a return-to-play committee member, said the league and the NHLPA continue to listen to advice from infectious-disease experts.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (Photo via NHL Images).

Certainly, you always have to be monitoring and preparing for the worst,” Tavares said. “But what we’ve been told by the experts and world health officials, everything they’re recommending, we’re more than capable of being able to come back and play as things continue to get better and improve. The other optimism I see is what’s gone on in other countries around the world that are a few weeks and steps ahead of us, especially in Europe, the soccer leagues in how they’ve handled it with their return to play. It seems there’s been some pretty positive progress. Some of those countries were hit pretty hard by the virus.”

Because players under Phase 2 haven’t faced league-imposed restrictions, Larkin feels it’s too early to declare last week’s positive tests as a threat to the return-to-play plan. The quarantine bubble under Phase 3 beginning July 10 would be much stricter. Nevertheless, Larkin believes the league could have a significant problem if cases still pop up among players in Phase 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 will tell the tale. If COVID-19 cases spike during training camp, the league could be forced to reconsider its plans.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports Las Vegas, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver figure prominently among the six cities under considerations as hosts for Phase 4. Sources indicate Chicago remains in the running while Los Angeles keeps pushing. The NHL sent more detailed information on the hub city bids to the NHLPA for review.

LeBrun speculates it could be Vegas and Vancouver or Vegas and Edmonton, with Toronto just on the outside. Las Vegas’ proposed quarantine bubble is considered the tightest. If both bubble cities are in the west, the league isn’t concerned about home-ice advantage because there won’t be any fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: George McPhee, the Vegas Golden Knights president of hockey operations, believes Las Vegas is well-suited to become a host city.

“It’s a service business down there and they’re used to big, big events and they can handle this one,” said McPhee.

Edmonton, meanwhile, released details of its’ proposed Olympic Village-style set up for the players.

NBC SPORTS: Columbus and Minneapolis/St. Paul were ruled out as host city candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas’ bubble had better be the tightest because cases are rising there. Vancouver and Edmonton have significantly flattened its COVID-19 curve which bodes well for their respective host-city bids. The decision is expected at the end of this week.

SPORTSNET: The NHL and NHLPA have tentatively agreed to extend all expiring player contracts and work permits to the end of October pending approval of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That includes players on the seven non-playoff clubs. The free-agent period usually begins on July 1. Looks like the market will instead open on November 1.

IN OTHER NEWS…

STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko took part in small-group training with several teammates on Monday. The St. Louis Blues winger had been sidelined since late October by a shoulder injury.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko is exempt mandatory military service in his native Finland because he’s a type-1 diabetic.

THE SCORE: The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the 2021 World Championship will take place from May 21 to June 6. The 2020 championship was canceled due to COVID-19.

ESPN.COM: The Dallas Stars fired a visual effects designer over a racist comment made on social media.

STLTODAY.COM: Winger Chris Thorburn announced his retirement yesterday. He spent 801 games over 14 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, and St. Louis Blues, tallying 53 goals and 134 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Thorburn in his future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2017

Joe Thornton officially signed with the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

Thornton officially returns to Sharks, Blackhawks trade Kruger to Vegas & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

THE MERCURY NEWS: Joe Thornton officially returned with the San Jose Sharks, signing a one-year deal worth $8 million. The deal wasn’t finalized until Sunday due of his willingness to accept less money if the Sharks also brought back Patrick Marleau, who ultimately joined the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Thornton will receive $1.25 million up front as a signing bonus. He also gets a full no-movement clause. He reportedly received interest from 17 teams but decided to stay where he was happy.

It’s an expensive salary for a 38-year-old center whose production declined last season and also suffered a knee injury. However, it’s only for a year and doesn’t give the Sharks any long-term salary-cap issues. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: In a much-anticipated cost-cutting move, the Chicago Blackhawks dealt center Marcus Kruger to the Vegas Golden Knights for future considerations. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prior to moving Kruger’s $3.083 million cap hit, the Hawks were over the $75 million cap ceiling by around $2.1 million.

PHILLY.COM: Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has no interest in bringing right wing Jaromir Jagr back for another spin with the club. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Ryan Callahan said he’s fully recovered from his hip issues and feels no limitations. He was limited to only 18 games last season. 

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues found their replacement for departed enforcer Ryan Reaves, signing Chris Thorburn to a two-year, $1.8 million contract. 

CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed scrapper Luke Gazdic to a one-year, $650K contract. 

NBC SPORTS: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Steve Oleksy to a two-year contract and center Derek Grant to a one-year deal.