All posts by Matt Teague

Canucks’ Baertschi opts out of return-to-play

Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi has told the club he won't be participating in the NHL's return-to-play plan, the team announced Saturday.

"Sven informed us late yesterday that he has chosen to opt out of the NHL return-to-play program," Benning said. "It was a difficult decision but ultimately one we respect and understand."

The Canucks added 21-year-old winger Kole Lind to their return-to-play roster in place of Baertschi.

Baertschi is the second player to opt out of the restart after Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic withdrew late Friday night. Those who wish to opt out are permitted to do so without punishment if they inform their team by Monday at 5 p.m. ET.

The 27-year-old winger spent the majority of the campaign with the AHL's Utica Comets, tallying 13 goals and 46 points in 43 games. In six games with Vancouver, Baerstchi contributed two assists.

The Canucks will take on the Minnesota Wild in their best-of-five qualifying series. NHL training camps are set to open July 13 with games scheduled to get underway Aug. 1.

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Stamkos dealing with lower-body injury, won’t be full participant to start camp

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos won't be a full participant when the club's training camp opens Monday after he sustained a lower-body injury during Phase 2 of the league's return-to-play protocol, general manager Julien Brisbois said Saturday, according to team writer Bryan Burns.

There is no specific timeline for Stamkos' full return to training camp, but he's expected to be ready when the team takes the ice against the Washington Capitals on Aug. 3, Brisbois said.

Stamkos underwent core-muscle surgery in February and was expected to miss the remainder of the regular season before the league suspended play on March 12. The 30-year-old forward tallied 29 goals and 66 points through 57 games this season.

The Lightning are slated to compete in a round-robin tournament with the Capitals, Boston Bruins, and Philadelphia Flyers to establish the Eastern Conference's top four seeds for the 16-team playoff bracket.

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NHL releases schedule for qualifying round

The NHL released its schedule for the qualifying-round matchups in the 24-team playoff following the ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement and return-to-play protocols.

The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers will kick things off in Toronto on Aug. 1, while the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers will open play in Edmonton.

The times of each game haven't been officially set, but the league is reportedly planning to begin contests in each hub city at noon, 4 p.m., and 8 p.m. local time.

The winners of each best-of-five series will fill out seeds Nos. 5-8 in each conference to set up the traditional 16-team playoff bracket. The East's Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, and Washington Capitals, as well as the West's Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, and Dallas Stars, will compete in separate round-robin tournaments to determine the top four seeds in each conference.

The qualifying round is scheduled to be completed in 10 days, with the 16-team postseason slated to begin Aug. 11. The second phase of the draft lottery is scheduled one day prior on Aug. 10. One of the losing clubs in the qualifying round will earn the draft's top selection after a placeholder team won the first phase of the lottery in June.

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Hockey Hall of Fame reopening to public Wednesday

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it will be reopening its doors to the public next Wednesday.

The historic attraction in downtown Toronto has been closed since March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic. A 70% reduction in capacity will be implemented and all guests will be required to wear a mask while inside.

Visitors will be permitted to have their picture taken with the Stanley Cup, but will not be allowed to touch the trophy.

The Hall of Fame announced its 2020 class in June. Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kevin Lowe, Kim St-Pierre, and Doug Wilson were inducted as players, and longtime NHL executive Ken Holland was enshrined in the builder category.

The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16 in Toronto.

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NHLPA executive board approves tentative CBA, membership to now vote

The NHLPA executive board has approved the tentative CBA agreement and have referred it to the NHLPA Membership for a ratification vote, the league announced Tuesday.

Every player in the league will now vote over the next 48 hours with a simple majority needed to pass the tentative CBA.

More to come.

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Blackhawks: Team’s ‘name, logo symbolize important, historic person’

The Chicago Blackhawks released a statement Tuesday regarding their team name and logo.

"The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolize an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois' Sac and Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans, and the public," the team said, according to The Athletic's Scott Powers.

The franchise has donned variations of the same name and logo since its inception in 1926. The name was tweaked in 1986 from "Black Hawks" to its current form.

"We celebrate Black Hawk's legacy by offering ongoing reverent examples of Native American culture, traditions and contributions, providing a platform for genuine dialogue with local and national Native American groups," the team added. "As the team's popularity grew over the past decade, so did that platform and our work with these organizations.

"We recognize there is a fine line between respect and disrespect, and we commend other teams for their willingness to engage in that conversation. Moving forward, we are committed to raising the bar even higher to expand awareness of Black Hawk and the important contributions of all Native American people. We will continue to serve as stewards of our name and identity, and will do so with a commitment to evolve. Our endeavors in this area have been sincere and multifaceted, and the path forward will draw on that experience to grow as an organization and expand our efforts."

The NFL's Washington Redskins and MLB's Cleveland Indians have long faced backlash over their team nicknames. Washington announced last week that the franchise will undergo a "thorough review" of its name.

Cleveland also announced its willingness to discuss changing the team's nickname. The organization plans to consult with the Native American community before making a final decision. Club manager Terry Francona and star shortstop Francisco Lindor each expressed their support for a new nickname.

The CFL's Edmonton Eskimos were warned Tuesday by one of their sponsors that it intends to cut ties with the franchise if it doesn't change its name.

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Report: NHL plans for 3 games per day in each hub city

The NHL plans to schedule three games per day in the two reported hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto if plays resumes this summer, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

Games would be played at 12 p.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m. local time, though that template may be tweaked slightly due to TV scheduling, McKenzie adds. The six contests would be spread out over a 15-hour window each day due to the different time zones.

The top four teams in each conference are set to play a round-robin tournament to determine seeds one through four for the 16-team playoff. They would play in the 4 p.m. slot, according to McKenzie. Regular-season overtime rules will apply if those contests need extra time.

On Monday, the NHL and players' association came to a tentative agreement on a four-year extension of the current collective bargaining agreement and return-to-play protocols for Phases 3 and 4. The deal must still be ratified by both the players and owners. That process is expected to take place over the next couple of days.

Training camps will begin July 13, and teams will travel to their respective hub cities on July 26 before the qualifying round of the 24-team playoff starts Aug. 1.

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NHL, union tentatively agree to return-to-play plan, 4-year CBA extension

The NHL and players' association reached a memorandum of understanding on a return-to-play plan and a four-year extension of the current collective bargaining agreement, the league announced Monday.

The deal must now be ratified by the NHL's board of governors and the union's executive board followed by the full NHLPA membership. If ratified, the CBA will run through the 2025-26 campaign. The review and approval process will take place over the next few days, the league adds.

Training camps will begin July 13, and teams will travel to their respective hub cities July 26 before the qualifying round starts Aug. 1.

Edmonton and Toronto are expected to be named the hub cities, with the former reportedly hosting the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

The following details of the tentative agreement were reported by TSN's Frank Seravalli on Saturday:

  • Any player wishing to opt out of the league's return plan can do so without facing any discipline.
  • The salary cap upper limit will be frozen at $81.5 million until hockey-related revenue hits $4.8 billion - the amount projected for the current season before the pandemic.
  • NHLers will participate in the Beijing (2022) and Milan (2026) Olympics pending an agreement with the IOC.
  • Escrow for players will be capped at 20% next season, and that total will dip to 6% by 2025-26.
  • Players will defer 10% of salary and signing bonuses next season, which will be paid back in three installments in 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26.
  • All no-trade and no-move clauses will follow players to their new teams if they are dealt, even if the clause hasn't kicked in yet.

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Report: NHL, NHLPA finalize tentative agreement on return protocols

The NHL and players' association have finalized a tentative agreement on return-to-play protocols for Phases 3 and 4, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.

The two sides continue to work on the details of a new collective bargaining agreement. It was reported Saturday that the new CBA will run for six years.

Both the return-to-play and CBA agreements will need to be ratified by the league's board of governors and the entire NHLPA, McKenzie reports. Players will have 72 hours to vote.

Some of the details in the tentative agreement include a limit of 30 skaters in Phase 3 (training camps) with an unlimited number of goalies. Only players eligible to play in the resumption of the 2019-20 campaign will be permitted to skate in Phase 3, according to McKenzie.

Players who wish to opt out may do so without penalty but must notify their club by 5 p.m. ET on July 7. All 24 teams participating in the return must submit a list of players to the league by July 9, McKenzie adds.

Players must undergo a pre-participation medical exam, and if both the doctor administering the exam and the team's infectious disease expert determine that a player is at "substantial risk of developing a serious illness," the player will be deemed unfit to play but will be able to seek a second opinion, according to McKenzie.

All players and team personnel must be tested for the coronavirus 48 hours prior to returning to the club's training facilities and every second day after that, according to McKenzie. If the results aren't available within 24 hours, the individual won't be permitted to remain in club training facilities until they receive a negative test result.

Failing to comply with return-to-play protocols in the bubble "could lead to significant financial penalties and potentially the loss of draft picks," according to TSN's Frank Seravalli.

Personnel who are authorized to leave the bubble - either for medical reasons or personal circumstances - will be required to quarantine upon their return pending four negative tests over a four-day span, Seravalli adds. That time frame could be increased depending on location or circumstances outside the bubble.

Training camps are reportedly slated to open July 13, with teams traveling to their respective hubs by July 26 before qualifying-round games begin Aug. 1. The Stanley Cup is to be awarded in early October.

Edmonton and Toronto are reportedly the two locations that have been selected as hub cities to host the remaining games. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will reportedly be held in Edmonton, and family members will be permitted to enter the bubble at that point, according to Seravalli.

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Report: Seabrook will attempt to play for Blackhawks if season returns

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook isn't ready to call it quits this season.

The veteran blue-liner, who's undergone three separate surgeries since he last played in December, will try to rejoin the Blackhawks' lineup if play continues this summer, a source told The Athletic's Scott Powers.

Seabrook, 35, underwent surgery on his right shoulder in December, his left hip in January, and his right hip in February. He was initially ruled out for the season, but the pause in play combined with his progress in rehab has apparently made Seabrook's return a possibility.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion hasn't been cleared for contact, but he has been skating and is on track to join the club for training camp, according to Powers. Camp is reportedly expected to open July 13.

Seabrook was limited to 32 games this season and contributed four points while averaging 18:09 of ice time per contest.

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