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Unless Gary Bettman contacts me directly to tell me the NHL will be awarding the Tournament Cup, then I will use it. Until then, it will be and hopefully always will be the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Next...Official practices for the playoff teams can begin today.
I am keeping my head above water during this pandemic and hope all of you are well.
I feel in my environment again since our game is back on the ice.
I will do my best to keep you updated on the news from the 24 teams involved and won't forget the other 7 teams.
Let the practices begin as we look forward to one team hosting the Stanley Cup in early October.
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from Damien Cox at the Toronto Star,
Max Domi has it right. For all hockey players, executives and fans.
Let’s just wait and see.
Domi, who has Type 1 diabetes, is going to pause for a week or so before deciding whether he wants to be part of the NHL’s ambitious restart effort. This is smart. It may not be the back-to-business message the NHL wants to see going out to the hockey public at a time when 24 of the league’s 31 teams are revving up operations south of the border, where there is no national plan to combat the coronavirus epidemic....
There has been a little too much celebration, and self-congratulation, for the plan that the NHL and its players association have cooked up. Nothing wrong with trying, mind you. But when you have a business plan in the middle of a deadly pandemic that is driven by pressing financial imperatives rather than medical priorities, you’re going to have a business plan with holes.
If money didn’t matter, and television contracts didn’t matter, there would be no reason to even attempt to complete the 2019-20 playoffs. But those things do matter, particularly the TV commitments.
Moreover — and this probably hasn’t been discussed enough — the NHL as a business is under severe duress. Consider that a year from now NHL teams will still likely not be able to fill their arenas with customers, and you start to understand that a flat salary cap may turn out to be the least of the money concerns for some teams.
from Samantha Pell of the Washington Post,
As the NHL tries to resume play and crown a Stanley Cup champion by early October, it is also shifting its operations to Canada. According to a pair of health experts, that might give the NHL the best shot among the North American professional sports leagues to complete the season.
“I don’t know what greater indictment you need of the United States’ response to the virus than the NHL picking up its puck and retreating to Canada,” said Zach Binney, an epidemiologist at Oxford College of Emory University. “That was a smart decision. That was a very smart decision.”
The NHL is unique in its plan to resume play, with its 24-team setup to be staged in two hub cities. The 12 participating Eastern Conference teams will play in Toronto, and the 12 participating Western Conference teams will compete in Edmonton, where the conference finals and Stanley Cup finals will also take place.
As of Friday, Toronto had reported 14,777 confirmed cases with 1,117 deaths since the novel coronavirus pandemic began; Edmonton had reported 1,202 cases and 19 deaths. Canada as a whole had reported 106,882 cases and 8,748 deaths.
“In both cities the trends are still low, and they are low, very low, compared to the U.S.,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the nonprofit think tank National Center for Health Research. Zuckerman also pointed out that Toronto has a mask requirement for indoor public spaces.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
Eleven weeks ago, after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman informed the Board of Governors a new CBA with the players was a priority, several teams discussed what they’d like to see addressed.
Their suggestions, officially submitted by the Winnipeg Jets, offered ideas on everything from salary arbitration to contract structure to long-term injury reform.
“It was an excellent memo,” one team executive said Saturday. “Very thorough. A lot of great ideas.”
Almost none of them were used.
“Gary and (Deputy Commissioner) Bill Daly were very clear,” an NHL owner said after the Memorandum of Understanding was ratified Friday night. “They told us, ‘This is a crisis. We are going to have to think big picture.’ And that’s what they did.”
“I think (NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr) and I both recognize labour peace was something we couldn’t even quantify how important it was,” Bettman said during a Zoom call on Saturday. “But we both knew that for the business of the game to come back strong, there was enough disruption going on in the world that we didn’t have to add to it.”
from the CP at TSN,
Brad Treliving joked recently NHL coaches only need a couple video sessions to prepare for an opponent, find a weakness, correct a problem or add a wrinkle.
So what about 142 days?
"Every game might end 0-0," the Calgary Flames general manager quipped.
With summer training camps set to open Monday as the NHL lurches forward in its plan to restart a season stopped in its tracks four months ago by COVID-19, the temptation might be to spring a surprise or two — maybe a new power-play setup or a tweak to the penalty kill — when the games return Aug. 1.
Coaches for the 24 teams set to feature in the league's return have had ample time to plan, brainstorm and re-assess their systems and rosters. The 16 taking part in the best-of-five qualifying round have known for nearly seven weeks which opponent they'd be lining up against if the league got back up and running.
But don't expect to see massive changes — especially early — from the men standing behind the benches in those empty arenas in Toronto and Edmonton once the puck is dropped.
They have enough to worry about when it comes to their own players.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
The 2018 draft saw the Wings cash in on the Tomas Tatar trade and use Vegas’ first-round pick into Joe Veleno, one of four picks the Wings made within the first 36 picks and among 10 total. Several of the draft picks figure to be a key part of the rebuild.
Here is a closer look at each selection.
F Filip Zadina...
Wingspan: Zadina, 20, made his 2019-20 season debut Nov. 24, called up after Anthony Mantha suffered an injury. Zadina earned his first point Nov. 30. He looked strong on the puck, figuring out how to make time and space for himself to make a play or take a good shot. From the time he was called up until he suffered a leg injury Jan. 31 (a span of 27 games), Zadina was tied for first on the team in goals (eight) and ranked third in points (15). He showed he belongs in the lineup, and that he can add a much-needed offensive boost.
F Joe Veleno...
Wingspan: Veleno, 20, endured growing pains, but that’s normal in a player’s first year of pro hockey. The Wings’ development staff emphasized Veleno work on the defensive side of his game, and that was a factor in his 11 goals and 12 assists in 54 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins. There’s no doubt he has high-end offensive instincts, but the Wings need Veleno to be a good two-way player to maximize where he slots into the rebuild.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- This may be the last and best opportunity for a while for the ever-optimistic Maple Leafs to compete for the Stanley Cup.
You see, the world is about to get very complicated for the Leafs and several other NHL teams who have spent money with the assumption the salary cap would continue to rise, and rise some more. In all the planning and organizing the Leafs and other clubs worked through, nobody budgeted for a pandemic.
So, this is perhaps the last dance for a Leafs team with John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander....
- A management team of Doug Armstrong, Ken Holland, Kelly McCrimmon and maybe Julian BriseBois should be selected to run Team Canada for the 2022 Winter Olympics. A lot of people want Mike Babcock to coach. I’d like to see Bruce Cassidy, who beat Babcock twice in playoff series, get a shot. And if not him, Jon Cooper.
- There’s more to Chris Pronger leaving the Florida Panthers than has been spoken about. Pronger wanted to be the next general manager and should have been the man to replace Dale Tallon. Word around is that the assistant GM, Eric Joyce, will soon to be elevated to the top job. His background isn’t hockey, it’s national security. The Panthers continually keep trying to be smarter than everyone else in hockey and somehow fail every time they get cute.
more on the first topic plus additional hockey notes...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
The greater good was served. A distasteful public dispute in the midst of a pandemic was avoided. The NHL’s next six seasons will be uninterrupted by labor discord. The fans win.
But though decorum was maintained at all times, and material disagreements between the league and the union were generally kept behind closed doors, that did not prevent the NHL from using this COVID-19 crisis to achieve a CBA that comes closest yet to the league’s 2004-05 vision of how its hard cap should function.
The NBA is a players’ league. The NFL is a coaches’ league. The NHL is an owners’ league. Never was that more reinforced than through these negotiations that, truth be told, Gary Bettman and the Board won when they shut down the league 15 seasons ago and minimized if not co-opted, and co-opted if not broke, the union.
The NHLPA bargained itself into stagnating wages for the next four-to-six-to-eight seasons essentially so the players could be in a lower tax bracket. Is that the way you negotiate your contract? The union is not only putting controls on the cap through the pandemic, but throughout the length of the CBA.
So this season, the cap stands at $81.5 million. In 2024-25, there is a chance it could increase to $84.5 million. That represents a 3.68 percent increase in average salary over six seasons. How much — allowing that the economy returns to health once the coronavirus is under control—do you think team valuations will rise over that period?
feom Michael Traikos of the National Post,
In the 2009 playoffs, Nicklas Lidstrom missed the final two games of the Western Conference final with what was vaguely described as a “lower-body injury.” But everyone who saw the Detroit defenceman doubled over in pain knew what the actual extent of the injury really was.
Lidstrom, who had been speared by Chicago’s Patrick Sharp in Game 3, had a badly bruised testicle. It required surgery. He said it was the most painful injury he’d ever endured....
Going forward, we will no longer be told if a player pulls a muscle or breaks a bone or even ruptures his scrotum in a game. And we certainly won’t know if he develops a respiratory illness that could jeopardize him, his teammates and the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.
In other words, there is no transparency when it comes to player absences.
If someone misses a game, it could be because he suffered a concussion. Or it could be because he has COVID-19. It’s up to fans — and other players sharing the same hotels and facilities inside one of two bubbles — to guess.
Scheduled to begin at 1:00pm ET.
added 3:17pm, Archived, YouTube version is below.
from Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com,
When it comes to sniper Filip Zadina, Red Wings fans were left wondering what could have been.
Because of a broken ankle suffered Jan. 31 in New York, Zadina's season was cut short just when he was starting to come into his own.
Zadina, who only turned 20 in late November, was about ready to return when the NHL paused the season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I was actually ready to come back and play but the staff, they kind of canceled my plans," Zadina said last week on The Red and White Authority podcast. "I'm probably, I would say, kind of sad about it because I was ready to go in order to get back on with the boys but it happened what happened. So maybe next year. I hope so."...
he Wings had given Zadina some workouts that didn't require weights or special equipment so he could remain in shape while staying safe at home.
But of course now that he's healthy, Zadina wishes he could have played some more hockey this season.
"I'm feeling really good, I would say, but it's kind of boring without the games, without hockey in LCA so kind of boring," Zadina said. "But glad to be home with my family."
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Much of the NHL’s adjusted critical dates calendar is still considered tentative, but the potential look the league released Friday night as part of its return-to-play package certainly painted a chaotic picture about how it intends to finish the 2019-20 season and transition to 2020-21 in an expedited fashion.
Here’s a sampling of how it might look (** – denotes tentative date):
• July 13: Training camps open
• July 26: Teams travel to hub cities
• July 28-30: Exhibition games
• Aug. 1: Stanley Cup Qualifiers begin
• **Aug. 10: Phase 2 of NHL draft lottery
• Aug. 11: Round 1 begins
• **Aug. 25: Round 2 begins
• **Sept. 8: Conference finals begin
from Frank Seravalli of TSN
The NHL Players’ Association and the NHL’s Board of Governors voted overwhelmingly on Friday to ratify a sweeping agreement that includes a six-year Collective Bargaining Agreement and a Return to Play Plan that brings hockey back after a historic, 142-day pause.
According to sources, the NHLPA’s full membership voted 502 to 135 with 78.8 per cent in favour, while the league’s vote was unanimous, as expected. Both only required simple majorities to pass.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman lauded the stakeholders involved "for coming together under extraordinary circumstances for the good of our game."
"This agreement is a meaningful step forward for the players and owners, and for our game, in a difficult and uncertain time," NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said in a statement.
Now, after months of heavy lifting with two sides hammering out the game’s first peace-time labour agreement in three-plus decades, the NHL’s real dance on thin ice begins.
The NHL’s owners have said ‘yes.’ The NHL’s players have said ‘yes.’ Now, they only need the cooperation of a virus that has claimed the lives of more than a half million people worldwide over the past six months.
Yes, the road back to the rink is one paved in peril, but the lure of hockey’s holy grail and more than a 100 years of history is on the other side.
from Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN,
The NHLPA and the NHL's board of governors have approved a package that will not only allow the league to restart this summer, but also includes a four-year CBA extension. You read that correctly, the two sides have reached an extension without a work stoppage!
We don't want you to have to pore over the entire agree-upon legal document. Instead, we're here to highlight some of the critical takeaways from the deal....
Player trades are less restrictive
Wyshynski: The new CBA made two common-sense changes that will affect player movement after trades. No-trade and no-movement clauses will now travel with a player who is traded.
Please recall in 2016 when Montreal traded P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators just 48 hours before his no-trade clause was to kick in. The Predators then declined to honor that clause -- as was their right under the previous CBA -- and he was on the move again three years later to New Jersey. That can no longer happen, as no-move and no-trade clauses are simply a part of the package when trading for a player.
The other fix might not have seemed so obvious: Teams can no longer include conditional draft picks in trades that are tied to a player re-signing with the new team.
more plus many other topics...
added 8:18pm, Playoff bracket below.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The NHL is back in business. And a Stanley Cup tournament unlike any other is on the horizon.
Call it all systems go on the league’s summer restart following Friday’s ratification of protocols governing the return-to-play plan and an extension to the collective bargaining agreement running through September 2026.
That paves the way for training camps to open Monday in 24 cities — more than four months after the season was paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This promises to be an ambitious undertaking.
TORONTO (July 10, 2020) - The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) membership has ratified the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the National Hockey League (NHL) and the resumption of the 2019-20 season. With the NHL also having ratified the CBA today, the agreement comes into effect immediately.
Combined release is below.
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
Friday is Referendum Day in the National Hockey League.
It’s the day ballot boxes close on the ratification process for the NHL Players’ Association and NHL Board of Governors on an all-encompassing new collective bargaining agreement and return-to-play plan.
The NHLPA’s membership-wide vote closes in the union’s online portal at 6 p.m. ET, while the BOG is expected to convene on a 4 p.m. ET conference call. A simple majority is required to pass in both constituencies.
TSN has spelled out the details pending in the new CBA and the return-to-play plan.
While we wait, here are five lingering questions to ponder in the return of the Friday Five:
1. Will playoff records be broken?
The NHL’s memorandum of understanding revealed that qualifying round statistics will be included in playoff statistics for 2019-20.
There was no easy answer. Even though they are technically not playoff games, the individual stats had to count somewhere – and the regular season didn’t make a whole lot of sense, considering seven teams aren’t participating and not all 24 teams are playing the same number of games with the format. That left the option to count them as a separate career stat line, have the round vanish from record, or roll them into the playoff stats.
from Randy Miller of NJ.com,
So when can this rebuilding end and lead into perennial playoff berths, and then possibly runs at a fourth Stanley Cup?
“It’s such a difficult question,” Blitzer (team partner) answered. “Here’s the reality: We think that the core of our team is obviously very exciting for a very long period of time. At the same time, there’s going to be some very different dynamics here in the coming season and future seasons obviously from what’s going on from the global pandemic standpoint.”
Translation: The Devils could be one of the teams that benefits from the cap staying at $81.5 million next season instead of increasing to the $84-million/$88 million range. This coronavirus-induced development figures to be really bad news for cap-strapped powerhouse clubs like the Tampa Bay Lighting and St. Louis Blues, but it has the Devils sitting pretty with about $26.2 million to add to next season’s cap, according to Cap Friendly.
Will the Devils go shopping for premium free agents and/or deal high draft picks for lineup upgrades to try speeding up their climb in the Eastern Conference standings? Possibly, but Blitzer suggested the Devils will start adding big pieces once the young ones take a few more giant leaps forward in their developing.
“The reality is we’ve got that great core,” Blitzer said. “We have pieces coming in. We have moves obviously that we would intend to make over the summer, meaning in addition to what we have today. And I’d like to think that we will be a very competitive team on the ice next year as we continue to grow and build.
TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie joins Gino Reda to update the ratification process of the Return to Play as well as the CBA extension, discuss his biggest area of concern when it comes to starting and finishing the Return to Play, what the bubbles could look like in Toronto and Edmonton, and more.
Watch at TSN.
from Justin Bourne of Sportsnet,
Imagine being told you’re not allowed to have sugar anymore, for some indefinite period. At first you’d miss certain treats. Some food would taste more bland than you’d prefer, but you’d get used to it. In time it would become normal, even if you preferred it didn’t.
To some extent that’s been all of us with hockey. The deprivation hasn’t been straight-up “You can’t have food at all” bad — just more like something we regularly enjoyed was taken away. We noticed it a lot initially, and we wondered what we could even consume in its absence. But we eventually settled on halfway-decent substitutes and found a way to move on.
Now consider August of 2020, when all of us are now going to be asked to snort Fun-Dips through Pixie Stix from noon ’til night, day upon day. The NHL is serving cookie dough for lunch.
Have you seen the planned schedule for the NHL’s return to play? We’ve been dying for even just a single sweet taste of hockey — now we’re about to be shoved in the chocolate river at Willy Wonka’s Factory like Augustus Gloop.
from the New Jersey Devils,
Executive Vice President/General Manager Tom Fitzgerald:
"We are proud and excited to have Lindy Ruff join our organization as Head Coach. He is one of the most successful and respected coaches in the NHL, not only today, but in League history. His personality, experience, knowledge, work-ethic and focus will provide a calm presence in our locker room. He is the right coach at the right time for our organization. Lindy has a proven track record of getting the absolute best out of his players across the board- stars, role players and everyone in between. His teaching ability, and communication skills will be well-suited for our team, especially our young, developing players. Throughout his career, his teams have been greater than the sum of their parts. I look forward to working together with Lindy as the organization moves forward."
Head Coach Lindy Ruff:
"I am excited to get back in the lead chair and guide the future of this team. This is a fantastic opportunity to lead a group of great young talent and strong leadership to the next level." said Ruff. "Tom and I will sit down together and build a plan for the coaching staff and I will start to get to work on familiarizing myself with the players and staff. I look forward to bringing this core together, developing our players and putting us on a trajectory that can lead to sustained success in a timely manner. It's an exciting time to be a part of the Devils' organization, and I have the desire and fire to get us on the road towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs and beyond."
from Michael Traikos at the Toronto Sun,
Chicago has 18 players signed through 2020-21 and $7.35 million in available cap space to fill out its 23-man roster. Some of that money has to go to re-upping rookie Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome, plus the Blackhawks don’t have a goalie signed.
Arizona was hoping to re-sign Taylor Hall in the summer. But with $7 million in the kitty and seven roster spots that need filling, it won’t be a reality unless they can find someone willing to take either Phil Kessel ($6.8 million) or Derik Stepan ($6.5 million) off their hands.
Tampa Bay is also in trouble. When are they not? The team has only 15 players under contract and about $5 million leftover to re-up Selke Trophy-candidate Anthony Cirelli and defenceman Mikhail Sergachev, meaning Yanni Gourde ($5.1 million), Alex Killorn ($5 million) or Tyler Johnson ($4.45 million) could be available.
And then there’s Toronto.
The Leafs, who have spent the second most on salaries of any team in the NHL (the Coyotes are No. 1), have 16 players signed through 2020-21 and only $4.59 million in projected cap space.
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