Pandemic impacting NHL Training Camp for Prized Prospects
Check out the latest on David Pastrnak, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely doesn’t expect wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the ice before the club flies to Toronto on Sunday for the upcoming playoff tournament under Phase 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Pastrnak’s been quarantined after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Kase, meanwhile, has been deemed unfit to play with no explanation as per league health protocols.
Both players were seen together socially in Boston’s North End and skating together locally before their disappearance from Bruins’ training camp. Neely said he wished both players had returned to Boston from the Czech Republic a little earlier but noted the club had no control over that. The previous phase of the return-to-play plan didn’t require players to be in their NHL cities until the days leading up to the July 13 start of Phase 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak and Kase are expected to travel with their teammates to Toronto for Phase 4. Fortunately for the Bruins, both players will have roughly two weeks to get back into game shape. That because they’re already assured of a playoff berth and will be taking part in the round-robin seeding round during the qualifying round.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins fans can breathe a little easier. Captain Sidney Crosby returned to practice yesterday for the first time since leaving the ice during a scrimmage on Saturday. He skated on his own but didn’t take part in team practice. As per league protocols, coach Mike Sullivan did not explain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby’s absence was not COVID-related. He appears to be nursing what could be a minor injury.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jonathan Toews was reportedly one of two NHLPA player reps to vote against the return-to-play plan and CBA extension. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Blackhawks captain was among the most vocal of the player reps, asking relevant questions and challenging whether it was safe enough to return to play. Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook was the other PA rep to vote against it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews’ questioning shouldn’t be surprising. He also took an active interest in CBA negotiations during the 2012-13 lockout. By the sound of things, his position was well-intentioned. He now has more pressing concerns as he was listed as “unable to participate” since leaving practice on Monday.
CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty has missed his club’s last three practices. Coach Pete DeBoer indicated Pacioretty was dealing with a minor issue and could resume skating soon.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar missed his third straight practice since leaving the ice on Saturday. Coach Jared Bednar provided no update as per league protocols.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Oskar Lindblom’s comeback from a rare bone cancer continued yesterday as the Flyers re-signed him to a three-year, $9-million contract. The annual average value is $3 million. Management also isn’t ruling anything out if the winger travels to Toronto with his teammates for the upcoming playoff tournament.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be the feel-good story of the postseason if Lindblom returns to action during the upcoming tournament. The Flyers will leave that decision up to him.
SPORTSNET: Andreas Johnsson will be joining his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates inside the team bubble for Phase 4. He intends to continue his recovery from knee surgery with the team and hopes to return to the lineup during the playoffs if the Leafs get that far.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise is expected to reveal their team name later today. A live-streamed news conference is slated for 9 AM PT today for a “significant” event. The club teased the event on Twitter yesterday.
WINGING IT IN MOTOWN: The Detroit Red Wings are open to loaning winger Filip Zadina to the Czech League’s HC Ocelari. The Wings could be waiting until December at the earliest for the start of the next NHL season. Loaning out Zadina would allow the youngster to get in some meaningful gameplay before then.
NEW YORK POST: Swiss investment bank UBS has secured the naming rights for the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park. The arena is expected to be ready for the 2021-22 season.
IIHF.COM: Former Soviet defenseman Alexander Gusev passed away at age 73. Gusev was part of two World Championship clubs in 1973 and 1974, won gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics, and was part of two Summit Series with Canadian NHL stars in 1972 and WHA stars in 1974.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Gusev’s family, friends, and former teammates.
The NHL considers its options as the NBA suspends its season over coronavirus concerns, plus game recaps and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The National Hockey League will provide an update on its season later today regarding coronavirus concerns. The league released a statement last night indicating its awareness of the National Basketball Association’s decision to suspend its season indefinitely after a player tested positive for the virus. NHL officials will continue to consult with medical officials and evaluating options. It is also in close contact with the NHL Players Association.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the league is expected to hold a conference call with all 31 clubs today.
SPORTSNET: While the league hasn’t yet decided on suspending its season, Chris Johnston believes it wouldn’t be surprising if it followed the NBA’s lead. “How can they reasonably play on with the virus spreading quickly in North America?”, asked Johnston. Even if the league held games in empty arenas, it might not be enough to guarantee the safety of the players and officials. Johnston also raised concern over whether the NHL can award a Stanley Cup champion this season, noting several European leagues have scrapped their seasons over COVID-19 concerns.
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports playing games without fans would have consequences for league revenue this season, in turn affecting the salary cap for 2020-21. The NHL is the most gate-reliant for revenue among the four major North American sports leagues.
THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith attempted to find some humor over the possibility of playing games in empty arenas. “I played in an empty building for a couple of years in Florida so I’m used to it,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league addresses this situation. The Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks already announced it would play several upcoming home games without fans. The league could go that route with all its clubs on a week-by-week basis, they could postpone the remaining schedule by two or three weeks or suspend it indefinitely.
Whatever the league decides, it will affect hockey-related revenue for this season. It’s probably safe to assume those rosy projections of the cap rising next season to between $84 million to $88 million can be scrapped.
NHL.COM: Alex Pietrangelo scored twice to lead the St. Louis Blues over the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 to complete the game that was postponed last month after Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident. With the win, the Blues (94 points) hold a two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first overall in the Western Conference.
An overtime goal by J.T. Compher lifted the Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Cale Makar collected three assists for the Avs in his return to the lineup following a five-game absence to an upper-body injury The Rangers (79 points) sit two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Earlier in the day, the Avs announced center Nathan MacKinnon was sidelined one-two weeks with a lower-body injury.
The Winnipeg Jets picked up their fourth straight win by doubling up the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Kyle Connor scored two goals for the Jets (80 points), moving two points ahead of the Nashville Predators and Vancouver Canucks into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Oilers (83 points) remain three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.
Chicago Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik tallied his 30th goal of the season in a 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Kubalik leads all NHL rookies in goals this season. Patrick Kane scored twice for the Hawks.
The Los Angeles Kings picked up their seventh straight win by edging the Ottawa Senators 3-2. The Kings have won 10 of their last 13 contests.
IN OTHER NEWS…
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights with 32 goals and 66 points.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens sophomore center Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s season is over following an injured spleen suffered on Friday playing for the Habs’ AHL affliate.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Filip Zadina’s attempt to return from an ankle injury has been delayed by a mid-body injury. The Wings are hoping it won’t be season-ending for the young winger.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers center Nate Thompson will be sidelined for two weeks with a sprained left knee.
The Rangers and Wild keep their playoff hopes alive, the Panthers move up in the Atlantic Division, David Pastrnak is tied for the goal-scoring lead and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Mika Zibanejad had a four-point game and Chris Kreider picked up three points to lead the New York Rangers over the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Dominik Kubalik scored twice for the Blackhawks to lead all rookies with 25 goals. With seven wins in their last 10 games, the Rangers (66 points) are six points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are still assumed to be sellers by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, but that might change if they win their next two games and move closer to a playoff spot. Kreider is considered a prime trade candidate, but the Rangers are reportedly talking contract extension with his agent.
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak’s overtime goal lifted his club to a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. It was Pastrnak’s 43rd goal of the season, tying him with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead. The Bruins (88 points) widened their lead in the Eastern Conference standings by three points over the Tampa Bay Lightning, while the Oilers (71 points) opened a one-point lead over the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division.
The Dallas Stars moved into a tie with the St. Louis Blues for the top spot in the Central Division by edging the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Ben Bishop made 39 saves for Dallas, while Stars captain Jamie Benn was ejected for boarding Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the second period. Ekman-Larsson left the game but returned for the third period. With 68 points, the Coyotes cling to a one-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for the final Western Conference playoff spot.
Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 33 shots and Vincent Trocheck had a goal and an assist to give the Florida Panthers a 4-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. The Panthers (70 points) move into third place in the Atlantic Division, knocking the Maple Leafs into fourth and out of a playoff spot in the East.
Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar each picked up two assists as the Colorado Avalanche downed the New York Islanders 3-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. The Avs sit one point behind the Blues and Stars in the Central Division while the Islanders (72 points) slipped to the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
The Minnesota Wild kept their playoff hopes alive by nipping the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Alex Galchenyuk tallied the game-winner in the shootout. J.T. Miller scored twice for the Canucks. The Wild (63 points) sit five behind the Coyotes while the Canucks are one point behind the Pacific Division-leading Oilers.
IN OTHER NEWS…
The Toronto Maple Leafs announced winger Andreas Johnsson underwent season-ending knee surgery and will be sidelined for six months. They also made a couple of minor trades, shipping Mason Marchment to the Panthers for Denis Malgin, and acquired Max Verroneau from the Ottawa Senators for Aaron Luchuk. Malgin appeared in 36 games with the Panthers this season.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Filip Zadina is sidelined two-to-three weeks with an injured foot.
PUCKPEDIA.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed forward Stefan Matteau to a two-year, two-way contract.