Jonathan Huberdeau has pledged his brain for research on brain injuries, the Flames may have some contract leverage with MacKenzie Weegar, former Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is getting a statue, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau pledged his brain after his death to Project Enlist Canada for research on brain injuries. “As an NHL player, I’m very aware of the impact of traumatic brain injuries, concussions and the link to other mental health issues,” Huberdeau said in a statement.
Calgary Flames winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).
Huberdeau, former Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau, All-Ivy hockey star Kalley Armstrong and retired Major General Denis Thompson have joined 170 Canadian Forces members and veterans in pledging to donate their brains to Project Enlist Canada.
Former NHL players Ben Lovejoy, Dan Carcillo, Jeff Parker, J.T. Brown and Craig Adams and Hall-of-Fame women’s star Hayley Wickenheiser have also pledged to donate their brains for research.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for information on Project Enlist Canada.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Flames, they could have more leverage in contract talks with MacKenzie Weegar than they had with Huberdeau and former Flames Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk.
Next to Aaron Ekblad, Weegar was the Florida Panthers’ best defenseman. However, he only cracked the 40-point plateau once and is a bit of a late-bloomer. His 44-points last season would’ve ranked third among Flames blueliners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired along with Huberdeau last month, Weegar has expressed an interest in signing a long-term extension with the Flames. However, he might have to settle in and establish a presence with his new club to earn that deal.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators are having a bronze statue made of goaltender Pekka Rinne which will stand outside Bridgestone Arena. Rinne spent his entire 15-season NHL career with the Predators and retired last year. His No. 35 was the first to be retired in Predators’ history.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rinne is the Predators’ single-season leader with 43 wins, a 2.12 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts. He’s also their all-time goaltending leader in games played (683), wins (369), goals-against average (2.43) and shutouts (60).
TSN: Colton Sceviour signed a one-year contract with SC Bern in Switzerland. The 33-year-old forward spent 535 career NHL games with the Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former Sharks players Tommy Wingels and Luca Sbisa are returning to the club as development coaches.
Training camps slated to open on July 10, CBA updates, and the latest on Patrick Kane, David Pastrnak, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL TRAINING CAMP TO OPEN JULY 10
NHL.COM: The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced yesterday Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan will see training camps open on July 10. Both parties agree this will take place provided medical and safety conditions allow, and the two sides reach an agreement on resuming play (Phase 4).
NHL training camps could begin on July 1 (Photo via NHL.com).
Earlier this week, the league and PA implemented Phase 2, allowing small-group workouts at team facilities voluntarily.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks listed the outstanding issues that must be addressed before Phase 4 (24-team playoff tournament) begins. They include travel and quarantine restrictions when crossing the Canada-United States border, determining the location of two hub cities to stage the tournament, various health and safety issues, as well as escrow and salary cap issues.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun cautions the start date for Phase 3 could change if negotiations drag between the league and the PA. They’re also hoping for the Phase 4 start date to be around August 1.
Darren Dreger reports Las Vegas is considered a front-runner as one of the two hub cities. Toronto could have the inside track among the three Canadian cities because of its experience hosting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Vancouver and Edmonton also made pitches to be a host city.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports those three Canadian cities could learn by today if the Canadian government’s quarantine restrictions will be loosened for NHL teams.
If those restrictions aren’t lifted entirely, they could consider extending the quarantine area to include the team employee’s home and arena, thus allowing them to practice while serving out their 14-day quarantine period.
If a Canadian city is chosen as a hub, teams from the United States participating in the tournament could quarantine inside an “NHL bubble” created between the team hotel, practice arena, and the NHL arena.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane wants the league to take a cautious approach toward resuming play.
“The NHL is putting out these dates and whatnot, and as players, we’re taking a step back and saying, ‘Why are these dates being put out when we haven’t really agreed to anything yet?’ ” Kane said. “We just want to be cautious.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The PA also agreed to those dates, but as the joint statement yesterday indicated, it’s based on whether medical and safety conditions are met and both sides have reached an agreement on resuming play.
This can still be derailed at any time by the pandemic. The players could also vote against it if they feel their health and safety cannot be assured.
Yesterday’s announcement of training camps opening on July 10 is a positive step, but significant hurdles remain between now and then.
NHL CBA UPDATES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the two sides are believed discussing a four- or five-year CBA extension. A four-year one would push the CBA to the end of the 2025-26 season. Whatever news rules are agreed upon would be implemented right away.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports escrow and the salary cap are the key issues before a CBA extension can be reached before the playoff tournament begins in August.
NHL players could potentially face escrow deductions of 40 percent or more next season. The league and the PA are attempting to negotiate an escrow cap that would allow the players to make their payments over a longer period.
The two sides are also discussing keeping next season’s salary cap at a flat rate ($81.5 million). Without it, Brooks speculates the cap could drop by $10 million. That would produce chaos and instability around the league as teams shed salary, flooding the free-agent market and depressing salaries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A CBA extension would ensure labor peace for the next six years. It would be the silver lining to the dark cloud of COVID-19 hanging over the league right now.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SCORE: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak won the Golden Hockey Stick as the Czech Player of the Year for the fourth straight season, tying the record set by future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Peter Laviolette could be the front-runner for the role of New Jersey Devils head coach. Laviolette is among four candidates, including Devils interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports sources claim NBC Sports broadcaster Ed Olczyk was among those interviewed for the Devils GM position. When asked, Olczyk said he speaks to a lot of people in the NHL. Interim GM Tom Fitzgerald remains a candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are leaving Nasreddine and Fitzgerald twisting in the wind. Those two should be commended for how well they’re handling this situation.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan is expected to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery to participate in the playoff tournament in August.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed goaltender Oscar Dansk to a one-year, two-way contract extension worth $700K at the NHL level.
TSN: Kim Pegula will be staying on as president of the Buffalo Sabres.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Former San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels announced his retirement. Wingels spent 337 of his 448 career NHL games with the Sharks from 2010-11 to 2016-17, as well as stops with the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, and Boston Bruins from 2016-17 to 2017-18. He had 62 goals and 143 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wingels in his future endeavors.