All posts by Josh Gold-Smith

Daly: NHL weighing ‘every relevant consideration’ before naming hub cities

Bill Daly won't say whether the spike in coronavirus cases in the United States has affected the NHL's decision-making process regarding where games will be played if the season resumes.

“Every relevant consideration will be fairly evaluated before decisions are made and announced," the league's deputy commissioner told TSN's Ryan Rishaug when asked if the rising virus numbers are causing the NHL to re-evaluate having an American hub city.

Chicago, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles are reportedly the three American locations among the five remaining candidates to host games. Edmonton and Toronto are the others.

Coronavirus cases have been surging in many U.S. states, with the country setting a new single-day national record on Friday with 45,942 cases, according to NBC News' Nicole Acevedo, Joe Murphy, and Josh Lederman. That number reportedly included more than 8,000 new cases in Florida, along with four-digit figures in Arizona, California, and Texas.

The NHL initially listed 10 potential hubs when the league unveiled its 24-team return-to-play plan in late May. Of those 10, seven were American locations, but Columbus, Dallas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Pittsburgh are no longer being considered.

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Twitter bewildered after placeholder team wins draft lottery

Social media users were left scratching their heads after watching the extremely unlikely and controversial result to the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.

Twitter reactions did not disappoint after a to-be-determined play-in round loser - which reportedly had a 2.5% chance of winning - claimed the No. 1 overall pick, while the league-worst Detroit Red Wings fell to the fourth spot in the order:

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Report: Canadiens’ Kotkaniemi will be available to play in postseason

Jesperi Kotkaniemi will take part in Montreal Canadiens training camp as a full participant and will be available to play if and when the campaign resumes, a team source told The Athletic's Arpon Basu.

The 19-year-old prospect was hospitalized after injuring his spleen during a game with AHL's Laval Rocket on March 6. He remained in hospital overnight for observation and sat out the club's final game on March 11 before the AHL season was postponed and ultimately canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in June, Kotkaniemi underwent a scan in Finland that showed his spleen was fully healed, according to Basu. Kotkaniemi was cleared to participate in off-ice workouts in April, but he had yet to be given the green light to take contact.

Kotkaniemi collected six goals and two assists in 36 NHL games during the 2019-20 campaign before the Canadiens assigned him to Laval on Feb. 1. He registered 11 goals and 34 points in 79 contests during his rookie season in 2018-19.

The Canadiens drafted Kotkaniemi third overall in 2018.

Montreal will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-in round as part of the league's 24-team return-to-play plan.

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Canucks confirm Vancouver won’t be NHL hub city

Vancouver will not serve as one of two hub cities in the NHL's return-to-play plan, the Canucks announced Thursday.

Vancouver's bid reportedly suffered a setback following talks with health authorities.

Chicago, Edmonton, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Toronto are the five remaining candidates after the NHL tabbed 10 cities as finalists when it unveiled its 24-team playoff plan in May.

It was reported Saturday that the league had trimmed its list to six candidates, with all three Canadian cities still in the mix.

Vancouver had appeared to be one of the leading contenders over the last couple of months. British Columbia's provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, implied in early May that she was open to the city serving as a hub for NHL games.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said less than two weeks later that he'd had "a wide-ranging call" with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about the possibility of Vancouver hosting games upon the league's return.

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Panarin worried about players’ health, NHL’s ‘long-term prosperity’

Hours after Carey Price expressed trepidation about the NHL's potential return to play, Artemi Panarin followed suit.

"I have concerns not only about the health of players and their families but also about the long-term prosperity of the NHL," the New York Rangers superstar wrote Thursday in a statement on Twitter.

Panarin said certain financial issues need to be ironed out before the players show up for the start of training camps.

"For nearly two decades, the players have protected the owners' income with escrow, including throughout this pandemic crisis, even as (the) owners' equity continues to grow exponentially," the Hart Trophy contender added. "It is time to fix the escrow.

"We as players cannot report to camp to resume play without already having an agreement in place."

Despite agreeing on a 24-team playoff plan that will be played in a pair of hub cities, the NHL and NHLPA still need to come to terms on health and safety protocols. In addition, negotiations to extend the CBA have reportedly been tied to the return-to-play talks.

The NHL is currently allowing teams to hold informal skates, and reportedly expanded the maximum number of players allowed on the ice from six to 12 earlier this week. The league is eyeing July 10 for the opening of training camps.

Escrow is a percentage of NHL players' salaries withheld by the league and the NHLPA during the season to ensure teams and players evenly split hockey-related revenue.

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KeyArena now called Climate Pledge Arena after Amazon gets naming rights

Amazon bought the naming rights to Seattle's KeyArena and has renamed it Climate Pledge Arena, the company's founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced Thursday.

"Instead of calling it Amazon Arena, we're naming it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the urgent need for climate action," Bezos wrote on Instagram.

"It will be the first net-zero carbon certified arena in the world, generate zero waste from operations and events, and use reclaimed rainwater in the ice system to create the greenest ice in the NHL," the billionaire entrepreneur pledged.

"Our goal is to make sure every visit to this arena will be enjoyable and memorable, and sustainability is a large part of that," Tim Leiweke, the CEO of Oak View Group, said Thursday, according to NHL Seattle's Bob Condor. "It is not just about one arena, it's the platform. We challenge music, facilities, concert tours, and sports. It is our time to step up to face the challenge of our generation. We must take steps to build arenas and stadiums that front-and-center align with our zero-carbon mission statement."

Leiweke and OVG are overseeing the renovation of the building that formerly housed the NBA's SuperSonics and the WNBA's Storm in anticipation of the NHL expansion franchise's on-ice arrival in 2021-22.

The naming of the team itself has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as have the renovations, the resumption of which will likely be pushed back by two months. However, that's not expected to impact the team's ability to begin play on schedule.

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4 players snubbed from the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class

The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class was a deserving group for the most part, but several overlooked players arguably warranted inclusion.

A maximum of four male players and two female players can be selected by the Hall every year - a rule that may need to be expanded given the amount of deserving candidates. The 2020 class includes the maximum number of male players, but there are others who arguably deserved a spot more than those who were selected. In addition, the Hall chose to elect only one female player, leaving one spot unfilled.

The selections of Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson were questionable, as neither boasted superstar credentials during their careers. Lowe won plenty of titles, but his admission that he never considered himself a Hall of Famer is a sentiment likely shared by many in the hockey world. It took him 20 years of eligibility to make it, while Wilson waited for a quarter of a century to get his call.

While Jarome Iginla was a no-brainer to make it in his first year of eligibility, Marian Hossa wasn't necessarily worthy of immediate induction. He was likely to earn enshrinement at some point, but whether he deserved to be inducted in his first year is debatable.

With that in mind, here are four players who had strong enough cases to crack the 2020 class:

Alexander Mogilny

C Andersen / Bruce Bennett / Getty

It's downright absurd Mogilny was snubbed for the 11th consecutive year. He ranks third all time in goals and goals per game among Russian forwards, and fourth in points among his countrymen who've played in the NHL.

Mogilny finished with over a point per game in his stellar career (1,032 in 990), including a 76-goal, 127-point campaign in 1992-93 and a 55-goal, 107-point campaign in 1995-96.

He has even greater significance to the growth of the game internationally as the first player ever to defect from the Soviet Union to the NHL. His ordeal is well-documented, making it even more egregious that someone who risked his life to play in North America and then had a tremendous career continues to be denied the recognition he deserves.

Daniel Alfredsson

Bill Wippert / National Hockey League / Getty

Alfredsson isn't a slam dunk Hall of Famer, so the fact he was passed over for his first three years of eligibility wasn't surprising. However, this year represented a prime opportunity for the voters to honor him, and their questionable selections only further emphasized they should have instead anointed the longtime Ottawa Senators captain.

He doesn't have the Stanley Cup resume of a player like Lowe, but he was clearly a superior player, averaging nearly a point per game for his career while winning the Calder Trophy and an Olympic gold medal to boot.

If character is a consideration, Alfredsson exuded it in spades during his career, and it's a mild shock he hasn't yet been recognized for all of his contributions.

Theoren Fleury

Kellie Landis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Fleury is beloved in Calgary and beyond, but he was far more than a fan favorite. The dynamic Flames legend produced at an outstanding clip, notching 1,088 points in 1,084 career games.

He also helped the club win the Stanley Cup in his rookie season of 1988-89, posting 34 points in 36 regular-season games before adding 11 in 22 playoff contests en route to the title.

Fleury's achievements are even more impressive when you consider he was only 5-foot-6 and about 180 pounds. Next year will be his 15th on the ballot, and it's about time he gets his rightful place among the rest of the game's greats.

Jennifer Botterill

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Botterill's accomplishments and accolades are numerous both at the collegiate and international level.

She's the only player ever to win the Patty Kazmaier Award - given annually to the top U.S. college female ice hockey player - on two occasions, and she amassed 319 points in 113 games while at Harvard. She was also one of only four players to collect 100 or more points in a single NCAA campaign.

Botterill is a Canadian hockey legend, having won three Olympic gold medals and five World Championship titles while representing her country. She was a two-time MVP at the worlds, and produced almost a point per game (174 in 184) during her tenure with the national program.

The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee hasn't elected two women in the same year since 2010, when it enshrined both Angela James and Cammi Granato. However, Botterill clearly deserved to be chosen alongside her former teammate, 2020 inductee Kim St-Pierre.

Honorable mentions: Patrick Elias, Rod Brind'Amour, Sergei Gonchar, Julie Chu.

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Iginla, Hossa lead 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class

Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Ken Holland, Kevin Lowe, Kim St-Pierre, and Doug Wilson have been selected as the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class, the Hall announced Wednesday.

Iginla and Hossa were both elected in their first year of eligibility.

Holland will be the lone inductee in the builder category.

Iginla authored a brilliant 20-year career, 16 seasons of which he spent as the heart-and-soul leader of the Calgary Flames. The 42-year-old racked up 625 goals and 1,300 points in 1,554 career contests, helping the Flames reach Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2004.

Like Iginla, Hossa was also one of the best wingers of his era. The 41-year-old was a key contributor on three championship teams with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he spent eight of his 19 campaigns. Hossa notched 525 goals and 1,134 points in 1,309 games.

Holland, the current Edmonton Oilers general manger, spent 36 years with the Detroit Red Wings, including 22 as GM. He was the architect of four Stanley Cup championship squads over that span (three as the GM), and built the club into a perennial powerhouse that made the playoffs a whopping 25 straight times from 1991 to 2016.

Lowe, a current Oilers alternate governor, will be inducted as a player. The former defenseman was an important part of Edmonton's dynasty in the 1980s and early 1990s, helping the team win the Cup five times before capturing another title with the New York Rangers in 1994.

St-Pierre will be the only female inductee in this year's class. The former goaltender starred for Canada on the international stage, guiding the nation to three Olympic gold medals and five IIHF World Championship crowns.

Wilson, the current San Jose Sharks GM, was inducted as a player. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top blue-liner in 1982, and was nominated for the award five times. WIlson played 14 of his 16 seasons with the Blackhawks, registering 827 points in 1,024 contests.

The induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16 in Toronto. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Hall isn't currently accepting ticket orders for the 2020 event.

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Report: Matthews tests positive for COVID-19

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews has tested positive for the coronavirus, two NHL sources told Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun on Friday.

Matthews has reportedly gone into quarantine at his home in Arizona.

Several unidentified Arizona Coyotes players who were training alongside Matthews recently tested positive, according to Simmons, whose sources also indicated Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen did not test positive.

Andersen had been spending time with Matthews during the pause, but is no longer living with him and isn't in the state anymore.

Arizona has been a hotspot for COVID-19. The state has recorded a new single-day record of 3,246 cases since Thursday, when it set its previous high mark with 2,519 cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The Tampa Bay Lightning shut down their training facilities earlier Friday after three unnamed players and multiple staff members tested positive.

Unnamed players on the Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avalanche, and Pittsburgh Penguins have also been confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus since March.

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Report: Canadian government paves way toward allowing hub cities

The three Canadian cities seeking to host NHL games under the league's return-to-play plan appear to have cleared a significant hurdle.

Canada's government issued an order in council that would allow Edmonton, Toronto, or Vancouver to serve as one of the NHL's two hub cities if play resumes, a federal official told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

The order, which would reportedly green-light a "cohort quarantine," still needs to be signed by the country's Governor General.

It would let the league work around Canada's mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all individuals entering the nation.

The NHL reportedly had to provide a plan that adhered to Canada's public health requirements before the government went ahead with the order.

On Tuesday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada was open to having one of its cities serve as a hub for the NHL as long as it was approved by local health authorities.

The three aforementioned Canadian cities were among 10 in North America that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said were under consideration when the league unveiled its 24-team playoff plan in late May.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly later said the league would be open to having a Canadian city serve as one of the hubs, but that the 14-day quarantine period could prevent it.

Earlier in May, Trudeau said "anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner," but he added that the implications of the border rule on the NHL were unclear.

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