Category: NHL

NHL News

NHL Plans To Test Players Daily If Games Resume – Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said NHL players will be tested for the coronavirus daily if games start happening. “We will have a rigorous daily testing protocol where players are tested every evening and those results are obtained before they would leave their hotel rooms the next morning, so we’ll know if we have a positive test and whether the player has to self-quarantine himself as a result of that positive test,” Daly said. “It’s expensive, but we think it’s really a foundational element of what we’re trying to accomplish.” Each test costs approximately $125, the league says, and commissioner Gary Bettman estimated 25,000-35,000 will be needed to get through the playoffs, a price tag, he concedes, of millions of dollars. But athletes have plenty of concerns about risking their health to get back to work, and regular testing is something players insisted on. “You need testing at a level sufficient to be confident that you’re going to be on top of anything which might happen,” NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr said. “If that turns out to be daily, and that’s available, that’s OK. That would be good. If it turns out that that’s not quite what we need and we can get by with a little less, that’s OK.” While players vary on their general concern about contracting the virus by resuming the season, many seem to be on board with frequent testing. Part of the decision on which cities host games is the amount of COVID-19 present in the community. Bettman hopes the combination of going to a place with less of it, testing frequently and putting players in a quarantine “bubble” of sorts means it’s less likely for anyone to contract it. (ESPN)

NHL News

NHL (@NHL) | Twitter NHL Tells GMs To Plan For 28-Man Roster And Goaltenders – The NHL has advised its teams to prepare for a roster of 28 players and an unlimited amount of goaltenders for training camp and the playoffs if it can return this summer. Several general managers on Wednesday said they were told that would be the anticipated roster limit. Each team is limited to 50 personnel of any kind in one of the two cities that would host games. The league says training camp isn’t expected to begin before early July. If the NHL goes ahead with its 24-team playoff format, games could begin in late July or early August. (Associated Press)

NHL News

NHL Return Close: 24-Team Playoffs, What it Means for Penguins  BREAKING:  NHL Adopts 24-Team Playoff If Season Starts – The NHL will abandon the rest of the regular season and go straight into the playoffs with 24 teams instead of 16 if it is able to resume play, commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday. “As we seek some return to normalcy, this is an important day for NHL fans,” Bettman said of the Return To Play Plan. “Since March 12, we’ve been hopeful and optimistic that by developing all options and alternatives, we could get to this point. I know I join sports fans everywhere when I say we cannot wait for the players to hit the ice again.” Bettman said the goal is to complete the 2019-20 season and to have an 82-game season in 2020-21. While the players and the NHL have agreed on a format, the NHL Players’ Association has not formally approved any actual return to finish the season. The league and the NHLPA also must still figure out health and safety protocols and solve other issues, including where to play. The Return To Play Plan also addresses details of the NHL draft, the draft lottery and some of the health and safety aspects of returning to play. The 2019-20 season has been halted since March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Bettman said that the 2019-20 regular season is effectively over. The stats are frozen as of March 11 for the purposes of player totals and NHL Awards consideration. The NHL will now move on to a 24-team conference-based postseason format which was approved by the NHLPA last Friday by a 29-2 vote, with the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning the only teams whose representatives voted against it. The games would be held inside empty arenas at two hub cities, where players, staff and others will be housed during the season restart. Originally, the NHL was seeking four different hubs, but logistics and a refocusing on the 24-team conference format narrowed that to two. Bettman said Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh Toronto and Vancouver are being considered. The hubs will have secure arenas, hotels and practice facilities, and there would be aggressive COVID-19 testing and protocols at each site. (Greg Wyshynski/ESPN) See complete story at: https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/29225074/nhl-adopts-24-team-playoff-season-resumes

NHL News

NHL’s Phase 2 Allows For Small-Group Training – The NHL is ready to move to Phase 2 of its plan to return to play, and it will soon allow players to train in small groups at team facilities, according to a memo circulated to teams over the weekend. The NHL didn’t put an exact date on when Phase 2 will go into effect, though it said it was targeting early June. In the memo, the league said it will continue to “monitor developments in each of the club’s markets, and may adjust the overall timing if appropriate.” Phase 1 involved self-quarantine for players and hockey staff and began on March 12. The new protocols would allow for a maximum of six players to train at the team facilities at once. On-ice sessions are for players only, with no coaches or other team personnel allowed on the ice. Players must wear face coverings at all times, except when they are exercising or on the ice. The NHL stressed that participation in Phase 2 is “strictly voluntary” and teams should not require players to return to their playing city yet. On March 16, players were told they could travel anywhere; last week, commissioner Gary Bettman revealed that 17% of players were currently outside North America.  According to the memo, players who live in an NHL market who don’t play for that team can have access to that facility. Phase 2 is a crucial step for the NHL as it aims to complete the 2019-20 season and award a Stanley Cup this summer. On Friday, the NHLPA’s executive board approved the format the NHL can use if it returns to play. Twenty-four teams would make the field, including the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks, who were both sellers at the trade deadline. The top four teams would get byes. Players and staff participating in Phase 2 will be tested for the coronavirus two days before they are scheduled to participate. They will be tested twice a week afterward, though players are told to self-administer temperature symptom checks daily. The NHL has been conscious of not overstepping its boundaries when it comes to procuring coronavirus tests, and stressed that in Phase 2, testing of asymptomatic players “must be done in the context of excess testing capacity, so as to not deprive health care workers, vulnerable populations and symptomatic individuals from necessary diagnostic tests.” (Emily Kaplan/ESPN)

NHL News

The Waiting Game: Players Voting on 24-Team NHL Return, Results Friday  NHLPA Board Approves Plan For 24-Team Playoffs – The National Hockey League Players’ Association executive board voted to approve a 24-team, conference-based playoff format for a potential restart of the 2019-20 NHL season this summer. “The Executive Board of the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) has authorized further negotiations with the NHL on a 24-team return to play format to determine the winner of the 2020 Stanley Cup. Several details remain to be negotiated and an agreement on the format would still be subject to the parties reaching agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play,” the union said in a statement. Under the plan, the top four seeds in each conference, as determined by their standings points percentage when the regular season was paused on March 12, would receive byes through a round of best-of-five play-in series featuring seeds 5 through 12. Those play-in series would determine which teams advance to a traditional 16-team Stanley Cup playoff bracket, which would have seven-game series. The full NHLPA board was involved in the vote — including the 24 teams that would advance to the playoffs and the seven non-playoff teams whose seasons would be over by adopting the plan. The format was created by the joint “Return To Play” committee that included NHL executives and a panel of players. The next step is the NHL signing off on the NHLPA’s approved format. A joint announcement on the format could come in the next few days. The NHL is expected to move forward on announcing plans for the NHL draft lottery and the draft itself after this playoff format is announced. It has not been determined when and how players will be able to return to their training facilities. (Greg Wyshynski/ESPN) View complete article at: https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/29211505/nhlpa-board-approves-league-plan-24-team-playoffs-coronavirus-return

NHL News

  Former Sharks Forward Joel Ward Announces Retirement – Joel Ward’s playing career was a study in perseverance. Undrafted as a junior hockey player in Ontario, Ward went on to play four years of university hockey in Canada and over a year in the minor leagues before he made his NHL debut in Dec. 2006 at the age of 26. Ward, who went on to play 10-plus seasons in the NHL, including three with the Sharks from 2015-2018, officially announced his retirement Monday in an article he wrote for The Players Tribune titled “726,” reflecting the number of games he played in the league. Ward wrote, “I know I didn’t play the last two years, but I tried. I did. I wish I could have gone out in a bit of a different way. But, you know, just thinking about it all — all 726 games — I realized something. Who am I to wish for any more time? I got what I wanted. I’m one of the lucky ones.” Ward wrote how fatherhood has changed his perspective following his playing career. His son, Robinson, was born a little more than a year ago in the South Bay, where he and his wife, Kathleen, still have a home. Ward, 39, signed a three-year contract with San Jose as a free agent in 2015. He, along with defenseman Paul Martin and goalie Martin Jones, other players also acquired by general manager Doug Wilson that offseason, helped the Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 2016. (Curtis Pashelka)

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Blackhawks Fire John McDonough, President Since ’07 – The Chicago Blackhawks released president and CEO John McDonough, the team announced on Monday. McDonough was hired Blackhawks in 2007 and was seen as a major architect of the Blackhawks Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Before that, the team hadn’t won a Cup since 1961.  McDonough came to the Blackhawks after spending 24 years with the Chicago Cubs, including as the team president.  “Thirteen years ago, I recruited John to the Blackhawks because of his leadership, direction and vision,” Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. “John brought all of that to the table and more. His contributions went well beyond leading the team to three Stanley Cup Championships. He rebuilt the front office and helped guide the organization toward a winning vision. As difficult as this is, we believe it was the right decision for the future of the organization and its fans.” Rocky Wirtz’s son Daniel, who currently serves as VP of the Blackhawks, will be the interim president. In a statement, the Blackhawks said that ownership is “committed to ensuring strong executive leadership” and will immediately begin a search for a new president. McDonough oversaw a lot of the business operations, including partnerships, marketing and the fan experience. McDonough was instrumental in getting all 82 of the team’s schedule on television — something that did not exist in the previous regime — and also created the popular Blackhawks Convention, which happens every summer. Within two years of McDonough’s hiring, the Blackhawks jumped from 118th to 21st in ESPN The Magazine’s Ultimate Standings. Under McDonough’s leadership the team also brought back Hall of Famers Tony Esposito, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita as team ambassadors. (ESPN)