Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

A Bad CBA For The Players

(7/11/2020)

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post, The greater good was served. A distasteful public dispute in the midst of a pandemic was avoided. The NHL’s next six seasons will be uninterrupted by labor discord. The fans win. But though decorum was maintained at all times, and material disagreements between the league and the union were generally kept behind closed doors, that did not prevent the NHL from using this COVID-19 crisis to achieve a CBA that comes closest yet to the league’s 2004-05 vision of how its hard cap should function. The NBA is a players’ league. The NFL is a coaches’ league. The NHL is an owners’ league. Never was that more reinforced than through these negotiations that, truth be told, Gary Bettman and the Board won when they shut down the league 15 seasons ago and minimized if not co-opted, and co-opted if not broke, the union. The NHLPA bargained itself into stagnating wages for the next four-to-six-to-eight seasons essentially so the players could be in a lower tax bracket. Is that the way you negotiate your contract? The union is not only putting controls on the cap through the pandemic, but throughout the length of the CBA. So this season, the cap stands at $81.5 million. In 2024-25, there is a chance it could increase to $84.5 million. That represents a 3.68 percent increase in average salary over six seasons. How much — allowing that the economy returns to health once the coronavirus is under control—do you think team valuations will rise over that period? continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Hockey Talk Before Training Camp Starts

(7/11/2020)

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, - This may be the last and best opportunity for a while for the ever-optimistic Maple Leafs to compete for the Stanley Cup. You see, the world is about to get very complicated for the Leafs and several other NHL teams who have spent money with the assumption the salary cap would continue to rise, and rise some more. In all the planning and organizing the Leafs and other clubs worked through, nobody budgeted for a pandemic. So, this is perhaps the last dance for a Leafs team with John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.... - A management team of Doug Armstrong, Ken Holland, Kelly McCrimmon and maybe Julian BriseBois should be selected to run Team Canada for the 2022 Winter Olympics. A lot of people want Mike Babcock to coach. I’d like to see Bruce Cassidy, who beat Babcock twice in playoff series, get a shot. And if not him, Jon Cooper. - There’s more to Chris Pronger leaving the Florida Panthers than has been spoken about. Pronger wanted to be the next general manager and should have been the man to replace Dale Tallon. Word around is that the assistant GM, Eric Joyce, will soon to be elevated to the top job. His background isn’t hockey, it’s national security. The Panthers continually keep trying to be smarter than everyone else in hockey and somehow fail every time they get cute. more on the first topic plus additional hockey notes...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The New Jersey Devils Plan To Be Very Competitive

(7/10/2020)

from Randy Miller of NJ.com, So when can this rebuilding end and lead into perennial playoff berths, and then possibly runs at a fourth Stanley Cup? “It’s such a difficult question,” Blitzer (team partner) answered. “Here’s the reality: We think that the core of our team is obviously very exciting for a very long period of time. At the same time, there’s going to be some very different dynamics here in the coming season and future seasons obviously from what’s going on from the global pandemic standpoint.” Translation: The Devils could be one of the teams that benefits from the cap staying at $81.5 million next season instead of increasing to the $84-million/$88 million range. This coronavirus-induced development figures to be really bad news for cap-strapped powerhouse clubs like the Tampa Bay Lighting and St. Louis Blues, but it has the Devils sitting pretty with about $26.2 million to add to next season’s cap, according to Cap Friendly. Will the Devils go shopping for premium free agents and/or deal high draft picks for lineup upgrades to try speeding up their climb in the Eastern Conference standings? Possibly, but Blitzer suggested the Devils will start adding big pieces once the young ones take a few more giant leaps forward in their developing. “The reality is we’ve got that great core,” Blitzer said. “We have pieces coming in. We have moves obviously that we would intend to make over the summer, meaning in addition to what we have today. And I’d like to think that we will be a very competitive team on the ice next year as we continue to grow and build. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Lindy Ruff Announced As The Head Coach Of The New Jersey Devils

(7/9/2020)

from the New Jersey Devils, Executive Vice President/General Manager Tom Fitzgerald: "We are proud and excited to have Lindy Ruff join our organization as Head Coach. He is one of the most successful and respected coaches in the NHL, not only today, but in League history. His personality, experience, knowledge, work-ethic and focus will provide a calm presence in our locker room. He is the right coach at the right time for our organization. Lindy has a proven track record of getting the absolute best out of his players across the board- stars, role players and everyone in between. His teaching ability, and communication skills will be well-suited for our team, especially our young, developing players. Throughout his career, his teams have been greater than the sum of their parts. I look forward to working together with Lindy as the organization moves forward." Head Coach Lindy Ruff: "I am excited to get back in the lead chair and guide the future of this team. This is a fantastic opportunity to lead a group of great young talent and strong leadership to the next level." said Ruff. "Tom and I will sit down together and build a plan for the coaching staff and I will start to get to work on familiarizing myself with the players and staff. I look forward to bringing this core together, developing our players and putting us on a trajectory that can lead to sustained success in a timely manner. It's an exciting time to be a part of the Devils' organization, and I have the desire and fire to get us on the road towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs and beyond." read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Will Any Player Say Pass On The Playoffs?

(7/7/2020)

from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, As the NHL inches closer to starting the playoffs, there will be a lot made of the fact that players can opt out of playing out this season for any reason. A player can tell his employer that playing this season will get in the way of his golf game and he’ll be able to skip the playoffs with impunity. This will be seen as a triumph for the players. You have to wonder why the NHL and NHL Players’ Association even bothered to take the time to negotiate this aspect of the agreement. Here’s a bold prediction, a hot take, if you will. Of the 744 players – 31 for each of the 24 teams taking part – who will be eligible to play in the playoffs starting in August, I don’t believe a single one will opt out of playing. Not one. No number of positive cases of COVID, which is essentially at 35 and counting, no amount of risk and the possibility of not making anything more beyond playoff bonus money will keep these guys off the ice. The players agreed to hold back their last paychecks from this season as part of their contribution to offset the owners’ losses and reduce the amount of escrow and players never get paid during the playoffs. That will reduce the amount they owe by about $140 million. Players whose teams lose in the first-round play-in series will receive $20,000 each and those whose teams win the Stanley Cup will make an extra $240,000. Neither of those is a insignificant amount of money, but for most of the stars of the NHL, it basically represents money that gets lost in their couches. If the Toronto Maple Leafs manage to win 19 games and capture the Stanley Cup, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and Auston Matthews will receive approximately 1.5 percent of what their signing bonuses and salaries were supposed to be this season. continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

It’s All About The Cup For Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

(7/6/2020)

from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has put his two young children to bed almost every night for nearly four months since the NHL paused its season March 12 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Avalanche center now faces the possibility of not being in the same room with his family for a minimum of five weeks if the Avs reach the Western Conference finals in the proposed 24-team playoffs. The NHL is still working on an official Phase 4 return-to-play announcement to coincide with a new collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Association, but according to a TSN report published late Sunday night, the league will conduct its 24-team playoffs in two “bubble” cities — Edmonton and Toronto. It will also not allow advancing teams to see their families until the conference finals.... “It’s a difficult situation. As the parent of two, it’s going to be really mentally difficult to not see your family for a while. I have mixed feelings about it,” Bellemare said Monday in a phone interview. “But I’m ready to return to play. We have a great team. I’m ready to win the Cup. I’m ready to make some sacrifices to win that Cup.”... “It’s a different situation right now, but normally when you come to pre-camp, you’re already in town and you’re practicing on the ice in different groups. This is similar but I feel like the intensity is a little bit higher just because everybody realizes what’s at skate,” he said. “So everybody is trying to get back to feeling good on the ice but also thinking about getting that edge quick because it’s going to come fast.” more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Options For The Detroit Red Wings with The #4 Pick

(7/6/2020)

from Ansar Khan of Mlive, The list of players they might take includes centers Cole Perfetti of Saginaw (OHL) and Marco Rossi of Ottawa (OHL), Swedish wingers Lucas Raymond (Frolunda) and Alexander Holtz (Djurgardens) and defenseman Jamie Drysdale of Erie (OHL).... The Red Wings need scoring and they need help on the blue line. They also need a goaltender of the future and Yaroslav Askarov of St. Petersburg (Russia) is sure to be available at No. 4. But it seems unlikely the Red Wings would take a goalie that high. Here is a look at some post-draft lottery projections on who the Red Wings will select at No. 4: Sportsnet: Cole Perfetti, C-LW, Saginaw (OHL) Sam Cosentino writes: “There are countless ties between Detroit and Perfetti. Most importantly, Perfetti spent the season a short drive away from the Motor City, allowing everyone in the organization to get multiple looks as well as get up close and personal to know him away from the rink. He’s equally as impressive a young man as he is a player. For Perfetti, his hockey IQ may be the best in this draft class. His awareness is uncanny. Anticipating a play in neutral ice or jumping the play to earn a breakaway is not uncommon.” TSN: Jamie Drysdale, D, Erie (OHL) Craig Button says: “It changes significantly from 1 to 4, but it doesn’t with respect to Jamie Drysdale, a No. 1 elite, complete, right-shot defenseman. You can build a winner with Jamie Drysdale on your blue line.” more