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All Craig Leipold

Graeme Roustan: Today, we have Craig Leipold, the owner of the Minnesota Wild, on with us today for Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News. Thanks very much for joining us.

GR: You sit on the executive committee of the Board of Governors for the NHL. I know that a lot of owners call you to talk about all kinds of issues. How are the owners collectively doing, and how are their staffs doing in general?

CL: We have been talking in the last two weeks. I think there’s high value and understanding what other teams are going to be doing. I have been on the phone to other owners, and we’ve talked through situations and options that we’re looking at. I can say this: if there’s any way that we can get this season, jumpstart it back on the ice and at a minimum play the playoffs, that is the foremost direction that every team owner wants to go. We want to finish this season. I think all hockey fans can rest assured that our No. 1 priority – well, the No. 1 priority is safety and the health of our employees and our fans – but after that, we want to be playing hockey, and we’ll do everything we can to accomplish that. I think all the owners that I’ve spoken with individually and from what I have heard on with the Board of Governors conference calls is everyone feels the same way. Let’s see what we can do to get the season started in some format, make good decisions. And let’s see if we can still play hockey this season.

more Q & A...

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Paused Hockey Thoughts

from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,

- There’s so much uncertainty about where we’re going from a financial perspective that many ideas are being thrown around. Estimated losses of $220 million are projected if this year’s paused games are made up, including the playoffs. (That would likely add four percentage points of escrow to players’ paycheques.)

Projected losses if there’s no season are closer to $1.1 billion, and 35 per cent escrow whenever we resume. One idea: allowing players and teams to defer money. For example, a player with a five-year contract at a $5-million AAV would still have that term and cap hit, but could agree to hold some of the payments. Teams would get a break on cash flow, and players could save until escrow was lowered. Don’t know if it will happen, but spitballing never hurts. Both the NHL and NHLPA would have to agree. Also, the players will decide what to do about their final paycheque by next week.

- One exec wants me to push Saskatchewan as a playoff “hub” site if that method is necessary.

“Not too populous and back to our roots,” he said.

- Five years ago, the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers moved to Flint. The Firebirds had one winning season in its first four, a .369 points percentage and made the playoffs once (a five-game defeat). It was not a model franchise. In September, they acquired goalie Anthony Popovich from defending-champion Guelph. Popovich had backstopped the Storm to the Memorial Cup semifinal, but with talented Nico Daws ready to play, they had a surplus. Never drafted in the NHL, Popovich was trying out for the Red Wings at their rookie tournament in Traverse City when it happened.

“I had a feeling I was going to get traded,” Popovich said. “Some people thought it was a waste to go to Flint. Looking back, it was the best spot for me.”

His new goalie coach was a fiery, determined competitor who played 299 NHL games for Detroit.

“It’s been real tough here,” said Greg Stefan, who coached 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward on that Carolina Stanley Cup champion. “The second skate on the ice with him, you could hear the comments in practice from the veteran guys. ‘I like this guy,’ they were saying. I knew right away. His professionalism, character, work ethic, how he was a teammate, unselfish.

more on the last topic plus many more Thoughts...

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Video- It Was Weird In The 2000s Too In The NHL

15 1/2 minutes to watch weird thing in the NHL from the 2000s.


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Why The San Jose Sharks Played Games While Local Officials Suggested Otherwise

from Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News,

Jonathan Becher, president of Sharks Sports & Entertainment, said the decision to play NHL games at SAP Center earlier this month after local health officials urged a moratorium on large public gatherings came after he called executives from other Bay Area sports teams and the league consulted with its own health experts.

“Most professional sports franchises, including us in the NHL, don’t have the ability to call off games by themselves,” Becher said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “That typically comes from the league that they participate in.”

The Sharks played three games — all before thousands of fans — after the Santa Clara County Public Health Department on March 5 recommended all public gatherings of over 1,000 people be canceled or postponed due to growing concerns about the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“The first question was, is this a mandate? Can you play? And we said, ‘Yes, we can, and if we play, we have to make these following recommendations,'” Becher said. “(The NHL) said, ‘OK we’d like to consult with our health authorities as well.’ (We) go back and forth and ultimately, we made the decision to play.”


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A Feel Good Story For Every NHL Team

from Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN,

To cheer you up during this lonely time, we revisited a feel-good story for every team this season:

Arizona Coyotes

Alex Meruelo. The billionaire became the only NHL majority owner of Hispanic descent last July, and we quickly learned the Coyotes had a new economic reality. In 2017-18, they had the lowest cap number in the NHL; last season it was 23rd in the league; but this season, only the Toronto Maple Leafs had a higher cap figure than Arizona. This new economic stability allowed the Coyotes to aggressively add Phil Kessel and Taylor Hall via trades in the last calendar year. Whether or not they make the playoffs, it's clear that the Coyotes have a stronger wind in their sails as a franchise. Now, about that new arena.

Detroit Red Wings

Owning Montreal. There weren't exactly a plethora of choices for the Red Wings this season, and we're not counting "Steve Yzerman returns!" from last offseason. But one absolute highlight was the inexplicable owning of another Original Six team, the Montreal Canadiens. The Red Wings swept the season series against the Canadiens (4-0-0), outscoring them 14-9. Had the Canadiens swept them, Montreal would be two points out of a wild-card playoff spot. Consider this: Detroit's season series victory over Montreal accounted for roughly 31% of their regulation wins this season!

the rest of the teams...

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Video- When The Video Conference Call Turned Into Old Time Hockey Talk

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

At first, there was awkward silence. No one knew what to do or say. Toews wondered aloud if everyone should also hang up. No one did.

Instead, they started talking hockey. Specifically, about the classic NHL games that the various sports networks have been airing these days.

“What was I watching the other day?” said Pietrangelo. “They had a game from like 30 years ago.”

“It was Chicago-Pittsburgh, wasn’t it?” asked Toews.

“Yeah,” said Pietrangelo. “It’s crazy how different the game is. It’s like, oh man, it’s changed.”

“It’s pretty fun to watch the old ones,” said Josi. “The goalies are the best part.”

Toews then suggested a rabbit hole for the others to travel down.

“Go on YouTube and watch Rock ’em Sock ’em,” the Blackhawks captain said of the popular Don Cherry-narrated hockey videos. “I’m sure you guys had that growing up. But when they play the highlights of a whole playoff series, it’s just one hit after another. It’s like really one suspension after another. Unbelievable.”

read on

You can watch the video conference below.

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TSN Insiders Tonight

TSN Hockey Insiders Bob McKenzie, Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger discuss the latest happenings around the NHL, including why the league extended its isolation period to April 15th, the Leafs being a front-runner to sign KHL forward Alexander Barabanov, and what NHL centralization would look like.

Watch at TSN.

added 9:32pm, Or you can watch it below.

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NHL Self-Quarantine Date Is Now April 15th

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The NHLPA Player Poll Has Been Released

TORONTO (March 31, 2020) – After delaying its release due to the NHL season’s suspension of play, the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) today has unveiled its 2019-20 NHLPA Player Poll results to help fans stay connected to their favourite players during this extraordinary time.

Visit https://www.nhlpa.com/player-poll/2019-20 to view the full results for each question.

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Imagine A Long-Term CBA With The NHL And NHLPA

from Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic,

In talking to people all over the hockey industry over the past week, player agents and team executives, there’s one growing sentiment at least some share and I agree with: The NHL and NHLPA need to find long-term CBA stability out of this to mitigate these turbulent times.

“If there is no (season) resumption then yes there will need to be a complex negotiation about moving forward,” veteran player agent J.P. Barry of CAA Sports said. “The fact that we are currently in the middle of CBA extension negotiations is probably fortunate timing. Different options could include a possible longer CBA term that would include working with the cap over the next few years to address the escrow situation. I’m optimistic that the current relationship between the parties will result in a creative solution.”

Imagine. Labour peace. For once.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


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