Bettman: NHL would consider December start to 2020-21 if necessary

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the idea of beginning the next NHL campaign two months later than usual isn't out of the realm of possibility.

"We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start," Bettman told the NHL Network on Thursday. "There's no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that's something that will be under consideration."

Bettman also made it clear there's still no definitive timeline for a resumption of the currently paused season.

"I don't think anybody knows for certain," he said. "We're going to have to take things one step at a time, because the health and well-being of our players is paramount to anything we're focused on."

It was reported earlier this week that the league discussed the possibility of pushing the start of next season until December and that it still wanted to play a full 82-game slate next campaign.

That followed a report that suggested the NHL would be willing to delay the opening of the season until November to complete the current one.

On Wednesday night, the NHL and NHLPA said in a joint statement that they may be able to move on to "Phase 2" of a return-to-play plan - which would involve reopening team facilities - by mid-to-late May if conditions continue to progress.

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Laraque tests positive for COVID-19

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Georges Laraque has the coronavirus.

The former NHL enforcer revealed his diagnosis Thursday on Twitter and Instagram.

Laraque played 12 NHL seasons, eight of which he spent with the Edmonton Oilers.

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Subban: Crosby’s strength ‘separates him from everybody’

New Jersey Devils blue-liner P.K. Subban has had to defend against the league's best over the last decade, but Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is the one player who has stood out the most to him.

"Whether it's natural, whether it's his commitment to working out - his leg and core strength separates him from everybody," Subban told Sportsnet's Ron MacLean on "In Conversation." "He's one of those guys that's literally impossible to pin down low. You have to contain and have a good stick.

"When you play against him enough you understand his tendencies, but as far as leg strength goes, I don't think there's been anybody other than maybe he or (Jaromir) Jagr that have been as good as protecting the puck as those two guys, they're unbelievable at it."

Subban and Crosby have engaged in their fair share of battles over the years. The two famously got into a heated exchange during Game 3 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, after which Subban said Crosby told him his breath smelled. Crosby denied it and Subban later said his claim was intended as a joke, but the incident was highly sensationalized in the media.

Regardless, the former Norris Trophy winner is well aware of Crosby's incredible accomplishments on the ice.

"I know that Sid and I have had battles in the playoffs - I have such respect for him," Subban said.

"I don't want to take anything away from the Connor McDavid's of the world and these guys, because these are elite players. ... But just in my time of playing in the league and the past 11 years that I've played, I've played against Sidney Crosby consistently in the East and in the playoffs, and what he's accomplished as a player ... it's second to none."

Crosby has enjoyed enormous success since his NHL debut in 2005-06. He's captured three Stanley Cups and won the Hart, Art Ross, Maurice "Rocket" Richard, and Conn Smythe trophies two times apiece. He's also won two Olympic gold medals as a member of Team Canada.

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Oilers legends praise McDavid, Draisaitl: ‘Beautiful to watch’

Hockey Hall of Famers Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr dominated the league with the Edmonton Oilers for much of the 1980s, and they like what they see today in franchise stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

"Those two guys, they're just beautiful to watch," Coffey said, according to's Nick Cotsonika.

Coffey added, "If you're a defenseman and you've got a guy coming down on you like (McDavid), that means, 'Feet don't fail me now.' You're not going to shut him down. You're just going to try to limit what he can do. And a lot of times, he's going to burn you anyway, and you can't do a thing about it.

"And that's where I just look over my shoulder and say, 'Fuhrsie! He's coming!'"

Coffey and Fuhr were teammates on the Oilers from 1981 to 1987, reaching three Stanley Cup Finals and winning two. Coffey, a three-time Norris Trophy winner, recognizes what makes Draisaitl a dangerous complementary player to McDavid.

"You've got a guy like Leon who's just a horse out there, is becoming a better player every single game he plays. ... Leon's vision and passing and his strength is incredible. It's just a treat to watch those two play," Coffey added.

Fuhr, who won a Vezina Trophy and ranks 12th all-time in wins with 403, echoed Coffey's sentiment, adding he's happy that he's not tasked with playing against them.

Draisaitl and McDavid were first and second in league scoring with 110 and 97 points, respectively, when the NHL hit pause on March 12. Since the 2017-18 season, McDavid ranks first in the league with 320 points, while Draisaitl sits fourth with 283.

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8 of the worst award snubs in NHL history

Few topics incite debate in hockey circles like individual awards. Potential winners are debated all season long, and when the hardware finally gets handed out, discussions continue to rage on about whether voters got it right.

While the banter can become exhausting, there's one thing everybody can agree on: The voters don't always get it right.

One player might've made the playoffs while his competition didn't, or perhaps another player's case was tarnished due to his superior linemates. No matter the cause, hopefuls coming off of elite seasons routinely get hosed.

With this in mind, let's take a look at some of the worst snubs of all time.

Pavel Bure - 2001 Hart

Rick Stewart / National Hockey League / Getty

2000-01 stats: 82 GP, 59 G, 33 A
Vote percentage: 6.61%
Winner: Joe Sakic (Avalanche)

Let's make one thing clear: The 2000-01 Florida Panthers were terrible. They only earned 66 points and went through a coaching change en route to a third-place finish in a weak Southeast Division. There were a few bright spots, though: A 21-year-old Roberto Luongo - who will appear again further down this list - was solid in goal, and Pavel Bure played out of his mind.

The "Russian Rocket" led the NHL with 59 goals when the Panthers only scored 200 total. Bure's 92 points were 55 clear of Viktor Kozlov, the team's second-most prolific scorer, and he averaged over 26 minutes per game. That somehow yielded Bure a ninth-place finish in Hart Trophy voting.

Whether Bure should have won is a different debate, as Sakic and runners-up Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr were all sensational, but dismissing Bure's contributions because of a non-existent supporting cast was a travesty.

Erik Karlsson - 2016 Norris

Andre Ringuette / National Hockey League / Getty

2015-16 stats: 82 GP, 16 G, 66 A
Vote percentage: 68%
Winner: Drew Doughty (Kings)

Karlsson was at the height of his powers in 2015-16, authoring the greatest season of his career and one of the best of all time from a defenseman. The 25-year-old finished fourth in the Art Ross race, led all skaters in assists, and logged a whopping 28:58 across 82 contests.

However, Karlsson already had two Norris Trophies on his mantle at that point, and the consensus was many voters felt it was Doughty's time to take home the award. Doughty was a worthy finalist with 51 points of his own, but making Karlsson the runner-up in his best statistical season was a head-scratcher.

Mike Modano - 1990 Calder

Denis Brodeur / National Hockey League / Getty

1989-90 stats: 80 GP, 29 G, 46 A
Vote percentage: 38.1%
Winner: Sergei Makarov (Flames)

After being drafted first overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1989, Modano made an immediate impact with 75 points as a 19-year-old. His impressive rookie campaign was enough to beat out the likes of Jeremy Roenick, Rod Brind'amour, and Mark Recchi in Calder Trophy voting, but he wound up finishing second.

The winner was Russian legend Makarov, who was 31 and had 11 KHL seasons under his belt when he made the jump to North America. Makarov did outscore Modano, registering 86 points in 80 games, but it's rather unfair for a seasoned veteran to win Rookie of the Year. The NHL ultimately agreed and proceeded to change the cutoff for Calder nominees to 26 years old.

Mario Lemieux - 1989 Hart

B Bennett / Bruce Bennett / Getty

1988-89 stats: 76 GP, 85 G, 114 A
Vote percentage: 59.37%
Winner: Wayne Gretzky (Kings)

Lemieux filled out a pretty nice trophy case during his career, but he was flat-out robbed of a second consecutive Hart Trophy in 1988-89. Super Mario had his best season at 23 years old, leading the league in goals, assists, and points. His absurd mark of 199 points is the fifth-highest single-season mark in NHL history, but it wasn't enough to beat out Gretzky, who claimed his ninth and final MVP.

Gretzky had a ridiculous season himself, matching Lemieux's 114 helpers while adding 54 goals for a 168-point output. Eye-popping numbers, to be sure, but it's difficult to understand how No. 99 won this award so decisively. Gretzky leading the Kings to the playoffs in his first year in Los Angeles certainly played a large role in the outcome, but we're not convinced that was enough to earn the nod.

Jarome Iginla - 2002 Hart

A Marlin / Bruce Bennett / Getty

2001-02 stats: 82 GP, 52 G, 44 A
Vote percentage: 70%
Winner: Jose Theodore (Canadiens)

The result of the 2002 Hart Trophy was one of the most hotly-contested in NHL history. Both Iginla and Theodore earned 70% of the voting points with 434 apiece, but Theodore earned the award due to a 26-23 advantage in first-place votes. However, it's rumored one Quebec-based voter left Iginla off of his ballot entirely to skew the results. That controversy caused the Professional Hockey Writers Association to change its process for the award.

Iginla led the league in goals by 11 in the middle of the dead-puck era, and also had a six-point advantage in the Art Ross race. He was the most dominant skater in the league by a landslide and even won the Lester B. Pearson - now the Ted Lindsay Award - as the most outstanding player as voted by his peers.

Theodore was terrific in his own right, posting a .931 save percentage across 67 games, but his award will forever have an asterisk attached to it due to the way he allegedly won.

Paul Coffey - 1984 Norris

Bruce Bennett / Bruce Bennett / Getty

1983-84 stats: 80 GP, 40 G, 86 A
Vote percentage: 40.65%
Winner: Rod Langway (Capitals)

Although he arguably played on the most stacked roster in NHL history, it was baffling for voters to have overlooked Coffey's contributions in 1983-84. His 126 points are the fourth-most by a defenseman in NHL history, and he was only the second blue-liner ever to have scored 40 goals. Coffey was also a whopping plus-57, a stat that was highly regarded in that era.

Despite Coffey's gaudy numbers, the award went to Langway, who had only nine goals and 24 assists while being a plus-14. It somehow was Langway's second Norris in a row, and he even finished second in Hart voting for reasons unknown.

Langway, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, was apparently the ultimate stay-at-home defenseman. So much so that the PHWA now votes on the unofficial "Rod Langway Award" to help celebrate rearguards that excel at the game's defensive aspects.

Dominik Hasek - 1996 Vezina

J McIsaac / Bruce Bennett / Getty

1995-96 stats: 59 GP, 30 W, .920 Sv%, 2.83 GAA
Vote percentage: 6.92%
Winner: Jim Carey (Capitals)

Considering he won six Vezinas from 1994-2001, Hasek probably isn't bitter about the 1995-96 vote totals. But we still want an explanation.

"The Dominator" led the league in save percentage (.920) and goals saved above average (43.28) for a Sabres squad that only won 33 games. Hasek's lack of victories likely held him back, but how does a goalie that bested all of his peers in puck-stopping proficiency finish eighth in Vezina voting?

Roberto Luongo - 2004 Vezina

B Bennett / Bruce Bennett / Getty

2003-04 stats: 72 GP, 25 W, .931 Sv%, 2.43 GAA
Vote percentage: 30%
Winner: Martin Brodeur (Devils)

On the surface, it's remarkable to think Luongo never won a Vezina throughout a Hall of Fame career. When you look deeper into his numbers, it's even crazier he didn't win the award in 2003-04.

Just like Bure in 2001, Luongo was hampered by a lousy Panthers squad despite outperforming his peers. Bobby Lu led the league in save percentage, saves, and goals scored above average across a whopping 72 games, but lost out to Brodeur and Miikka Kiprusoff despite the latter only making 38 appearances that season.

Luongo became just the third goalie in NHL history to maintain a save percentage over .930 in a season with 70-plus appearances, yet only earned six first-place votes.

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Red Wings’ Yzerman: ‘I haven’t heard a good reason’ to hold early draft

Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman doesn't see the necessity of holding the draft before the conclusion of the NHL season.

"Obviously the draft has never taken place prior to the end of a Stanley Cup or the end of a season," Yzerman said during a Facebook Live Wednesday.

The 2020 draft was originally set to be held in Montreal in June. The league has discussed the idea of holding the draft virtually in the same month, regardless of if and when the season concludes.

"My thought is: Why would you do that? Why would you need to do that?" Yzerman said. "There's a lot of things that are affected, obviously. The draft position hasn't been established; we don't know who's in the playoffs, who's out of the playoffs, in some cases.

"So there's a lot of questions, and ultimately if it needs to be done prior to, we'll figure it out. But at this time, my own opinion is, I haven't heard a good reason why we should do it prior to the end of the season if we do conclude the season over the course of the summer."

When the season was paused March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Wings held an NHL-worst record of 17-49-5. With 11 games remaining on their schedule, they were guaranteed to finish in last place and had secured the top odds of winning the draft lottery.

The Red Wings also possess three second-round picks and two selections in the third round. With hockey leagues no longer playing, Yzerman understands he will have to work with what his scouts have already gathered.

"We can only make a decision on the information we have," Yzerman said. "Had we gone through all the junior, college, European playoffs - the U-18 tournament, which would've been held in Plymouth - that's more information.

He added: "Looks like right now, we won't get to watch these kids anymore. ... It goes for all the teams."

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