The details are flying, fast, and furious. Early Monday, the idea of two hub cities housing 12 teams each seemed to explode into the news cycle like an epiphany. By later Monday, the idea settled into context. The NHL return announcement could happen this week as the NHL and NHLPA through their return-to-play committee continue to work through the small details to bring about the conclusion to the 2019-20 season. And, Sportsnet waded into a little Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray trade speculation.
*1:22 p.m.: The United States and Canada announced the border would remain closed to non-essential business through June 21.
“I remain hopeful that today’s announcement will not materially impact our return to play planning,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said.
*1:00 p.m.; TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun reported the NHL and NHLPA have delayed a decision on the final regular-season paycheck issue as the two sides work to finalize the NHL return. While it may sound counterintuitive, players may wish to forgo their April 15 paycheck to soften the blow of significant future escrow withholdings and salary cap shrinkage.
The NHLPA's Executive Board (31 players reps) has voted to further defer a decision on the April 15 paycheque until the end of the month. It will be re-visited again then, some of it will depend on return to play scenarios.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 19, 2020
*LeBrun also reported we could be another seven-10 days away from an official announcement for the NHL return.
*First, we’ll start with Murray. Not many Penguins fans know current Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas was Matt Murray’s junior hockey GM. Dubas does like to acquire guys with whom he had a past relationship, including Kyle Clifford. Could Toronto take a run at Murray? Maple Leafs reporter Luke Fox doesn’t think so (Sportsnet)
*Our sister site, Colorado Hockey Now also dove into more Matt Murray trade talk. (Colorado Hockey Now)
*Fellow Sportsnet Chris Johnston did a radio hit yesterday to drop some info on the hub city process. As first “floated” by Bob McKenzie on Monday, it sounds like Las Vegas is a favorite to become a hub city. The other favorite is currently Columbus.
The Canadian rule, which stipulates athletes arriving from other countries, including the U.S., needs to quarantine for two weeks before any activity is proving to be both a stumbling block. It could cost Canada the opportunity to host hub cities and possibly the Stanley Cup Final.
“(The two hub idea), it’s just fewer governments to deal with, and fewer regulations to work with,” Johnston said. “When it was four cities, there was a good chance it was two in Canadian provinces and two in U.S. states.”
“…In the U.S., the conditions are probably a little more friendly.”
Johnston reaffirmed his belief the favorites for hub cities are Las Vegas and Columbus.
*Just in case you were one of two people in favor of the June NHL Draft, embattled Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is in favor, too. (National Post)
*The Toronto Maple Leafs team won the NHLPA Open, which was a Fortnite video game tournament. The Pittsburgh Penguins finished second (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
The Penguins crew, Team Pittsburgh, earned a $50,000 check for charity for their efforts.
*There was positive coronavirus vaccine news late Monday. Moderna’s first clinical trials went well. It involved eight human subjects. If all goes well, it could be available by January. …January?! Let’s go!
According to the CNN Report, UPMC/University of Pittsburgh was not named as one of the eight entities working on clinical trials. (CNN)
January?! Seriously? Surely we can fast track this.
*Not to be outdone, the Washington Post immediately followed the CNN and New York Times reports with scare porn, “The Potential Risk of Chasing a COVID-19 Vaccine.”
The story cautions us not to overlook treatments that are being developed, too. The headline was pure scaremongering.
For the majority of Americans who do not trust “the media,” I feel you. I really, really do. There is absolutely some reveling in the bad news. Perhaps later today, someone will also report the sky is falling. Anyway…
*Gary Bettman spoke to a civic group in San Jose on Monday, via video conference. He said eight to nine cities are still under consideration for hub city status, though he did not name any favorites. Bettman’s call made news, but he didn’t break any new ground.
NHL.com reporter Nick Cotsonicka was on the call.
“I don’t think anybody has a fixed timetable, particularly in North America right now,” Bettman said.