Yesterday, we had some new little tidbits on the discussions between the NHL and the Player’s Association representatives. Discussions, it seems, that are more negotiations currently.
First came some tweets from Pierre LeBrun:
NHL/NHLPA continue to hammer away in daily calls, trying to put together a plan for the '21 season. The 16-player RTP committee has convened nearly every day over the past week, but internally, not with the NHL. The NHL/NHLPA communication remains at the higher levels (con't)...— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 17, 2020
Both sides as of today still hope for a Jan. 1 puck drop (we'll see), and the Cup awarded by July 15 at the latest (hopefully sooner). Most of the conversations between both sides have focused on 60-plus games. All-Canadian division remains a thing for obvious reasons. (con't)— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 17, 2020
So, if there's early January puck drop, that means getting this done by the end of the month. As we saw in the spring/summer, these things can drag out, but the hope is that if there's an agreement it's within the next 7-10 days. But we'll see if talks hit a snag or not ($$).— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 17, 2020
Sidenote: for the love of god Pierre learn how to do a tweet thread!
Anyways, this is mostly continuing things we had already heard were points of discussion in the past week or two. A Canadian division, a January start date to the next season, and the last part he drops in the final tweet is alluding to the issue of owners wanting more of the player’s salary to be rolled back.
The other issue is timing. If they really want a two to three week training camp (depending on the team), they are going to need an agreement very soon. What may be a point of contention for that is if the players are really going to agree to having training camp through all of the Christmas holidays.
Then, late in the evening, Elliotte Friedman dropped a “quickie blog” expanding on the money part (which itself is linking to an article from Larry Brooks at the New York Post). Here is the meat of the issue:
In last summer’s collective bargaining agreement, the players agreed to collect 72 per cent of their gross pay for the upcoming season — a 10 per cent deferment, and 20 per cent escrow. In their eyes, that was the deal, whether they played one game or 82.
The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported Tuesday night that the NHL is asking for an additional 13 per cent salary deferment. A couple of sources warned that this is not, as of yet, an official proposal, but the idea did come up in conversation between the league and the union.
That would drop the players’ 2020-21 gross pay to about 62 per cent while eliminating the need to pro-rate. As you can imagine, the reaction was mixed, ranging from “why alter a deal that was made a few months ago?” to “not playing is a worse result.” (Payment schedule will be key.) It’s also possible the figure could be negotiated.
If that or the Christmas training camp is going to be an issue for players, it seems like a heck of a short time to iron out an agreement in time to start players arriving in their cities for training camps. And that’s even before we get to the question of how many teams will be able to have training camps in their cities. The idea of a Canadian division, for example, may hit a snag considering how many provinces now are seeing rising cases of COVID-19, and how many other hockey leagues across Europe have seen games postponed or suspended, teams shut down temporarily, and some with talks of suspending the entire season (temporarily or permanently).
Even Finland, who as a country has very little cases per the size of their population, are seeing cases and outbreaks among their professional and junior league teams. Case in point, just from yesterday:
Today's #Liiga game between Kärpät and Lukko has been postponed because of a COVID case on Kärpät's side. https://t.co/6R4SiMnitT— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) November 17, 2020
South of the border, some USHL and NCAA games have started, but there has already been some cases and postponed games because of positive cases among the teams. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Wyatt Schingoethe played the team’s first game, then missed the second which was the next day, then their third game was postponed:
An update on tonight’s game between the @BlckHawksHockey and @TriCityStorm: pic.twitter.com/aViXLwE4u0— USHL (@USHL) November 15, 2020
There is a chance that some provinces or cities do what Toronto did with the Blue Jays, when there was even fewer cases than now, and shut them down. Manitoba, Alberta, Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario make up all the Canadian teams — Ontario and Alberta having two teams each. It will be something to watch that hasn’t been discussed much, at least not until an actual agreement is reached between the league and the players.
William Villeneuve is the Leafs 20th ranked prospect | by Jon Steitzer at TLN
Pontus Holmberg is the Leafs 19th ranked prospect | by Earl Schwartz at TLN
The QMJHL has had all teams in Quebec shut down for the past month or so, while teams in the maritime provinces continued. Recently, the QMJHL had the Quebec-based teams go to a bubble so they could start getting games in to catch up to the others. Mikhail Abramov and the Victoriaville Tigres got their first bubble game in yesterday afternoon. They lost 5-1, with Abramov scoring his team’s only goal. He’s now up to 9 points in the season’s first 5 games:
Mikhail Abramov is back playing again, and he's still scoring pic.twitter.com/MO5e9tCGwg— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) November 17, 2020
AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD
Some good news for the diversity of the hockey world, first was the hiring of Brett Peterson as Assistant GM of the Panthers:
Peterson’s well-earned role with Panthers opens door for who will come next | by Chris Johnston at Sportsnet
‘Huge step in hopefully the right direction’: Aliu praises Panthers hiring Black assistant GM | by TSN.ca
And then is the news that former NHLer Joel Ward is entering the coaching ranks of the AHL:
Hearing that later this week, former NHLer Joel Ward will be named an assistant coach with the Henderson Silver Knights, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. https://t.co/ZVjMYbFkUZ— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) November 18, 2020
There was also a REAL interesting development in the prospect world. Potential #1 overall pick for the 2021 draft, Brandt Clarke, was rumoured to be heading to Sweden to play in the Allsvenskan league — basically Sweden’s AHL. The assumption was he was joining there to get some games in before the OHL would return, since the SHL isn’t allowing players to join the league temporarily.
Now, I already thought this was kind of weird. Other CHL prospects like Carson Lambos — who also may be in contention for the #1 overall rank — already has been playing in Europe for a bit. But considering the OHL is supposed to be starting their training camps in January, it seemed odd for him to way until only now to head to Sweden.
But then Elite Prospects dropped a mini-bombshell: Clarke doesn’t plan on coming back to the OHL when it resumes:
Correction. No loan, full season transfer according to our sources #NHLDraft2021 https://t.co/LP9BgpNVh3— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) November 17, 2020
Maybe it’s because the team he’s going to is laying out some verbal red carpet...
Unbelievable words from Väsby about the acquisition of Brandt Clarke https://t.co/obbAIp94I9 pic.twitter.com/27kr8GLj7X— Ryan McArthur (@ryanpmcarthur) November 18, 2020
And lastly, some awww to finish this off and get your day started:
You just pump your arms #shecanskate pic.twitter.com/rhqzxxpzgt— Eric Lindros (@88EricLindros) November 17, 2020