In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is speculation the NHL has abandoned some of their plans for resuming the NHL season, but created new ones. There is no news on when the season might come back, but speculation is that things could move along more quickly than expected if the NHL can find a solution.
In other news, did Alex Ovechkin just hint at the idea of retirement during an interview with NBC Sports? And, what will the Detroit Red Wings do with their many restricted free agents?
Neutral Site Games Idea Scrapped
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet and Greg Wyshynski of ESPN, the league is scrapping the idea of “neutral site” locations for games and considering a small number NHL cities to host the remaining contests. That means places like North Dakota or New Hampshire are out and a small number of NHL cities are in. Friedman figures the NHL is looking at city from each division.
Emily Kaplan of ESPN tweets that the favorites to host these games at this point are Raleigh (Metropolitan), Edmonton (Pacific), Minnesota (Central), and a to-be-determined city for the Atlantic Division. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet confirmed this: “Gary Bettman tells Ron MacLean that the NHL is looking at as many as four locations to resume play in a centralized way: “We need a lot of ice.”
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How Would Games Be Scheduled?
There is no timetable on when all of this might start but Friedman suggests that one idea is playing a triple-header per day in each location. This would speed up how quickly teams could get through their remaining games, potentially doing everything in a matter of three weeks.
The focus is still on playing some games before the playoffs would begin. Greg Wyshysnki of ESPN writes:
Latest push is for NHL to return to 2-4 of its arenas in areas where the COVID-19 outbreak has been managed and restrictions would allow it. Very much targeting completion of the regular season. No timetable. NHLPA needs to sign off on any of it.
Ovechkin Talks Retirement From NHL
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin said, in respect to continuing to play in the NHL, “We’ll see, I have one more year after this season and we’ll see.”
During an interview with NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen and Wayne Gretzky on Tuesday, Ovechkin talked about being grateful that he’s healthy and talked his love for the game, but hadn’t made a decision on his future when his contract with the Capitals runs out. He explained:
“I’m healthy, thank God, and I still love this game. As soon as I’m not going to love this game, I’m not going to cheat on it. I respect it a lot, and I don’t want to put my name on the caliber players who just play out there and take somebody’s spots. I don’t want to do that.”
The good news is, it sounds like he might be leaning toward still playing. Noting that he knows what he’s done to date in his career is big, he said, “Right now, I can’t even realize what I did throughout all my career because you know my career is not ending, but to be eighth all time (on the all-time goals list), it’s special.”
Red Wings Free Agent News
Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News writes that Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman has 12 restricted free agents on his list to take care of. He notes that Tyler Bertuzzi will likely get a long-term deal, but that Anthony Mantha might sign a one-year deal. He writes:
Mantha is the most interesting of the RFA cases. If it weren’t for two significant injuries, Mantha may have had a career-best season. At age 25, Mantha is on the threshold of his peak years. But can Mantha and the Wings agree on the terms of a new contract? It might be tricky. Mantha might be willing to sign a one-year deal, betting he can post big numbers before he could be unrestricted in two years. Or the Wings could sign Mantha to a four- or five-year deal, believing he’s going to continue to progress. It’ll be interesting to watch.source – ‘Steve Yzerman has tough calls to make on Red Wings’ 12 restricted free agents’ – Ted Kulfan – Detroit News – 04/20/2020
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”