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.
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.