NHL Rumors: Jets, Maple Leafs, Oilers, Flames, Bruins, Canadiens

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, the big news is that Paul Maurice has resigned as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets. What went into his decision to leave the team? Meanwhile, the NHL has reduced Jason Spezza’s suspension. What was the reason to knock it from six games to four? The Edmonton Oilers will be losing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the latest of a series of COVID protocol pulls. What is the NHL going to do about so many missing players? Finally, what’s next for the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens after their game was postponed?

Maurice Talks About Why He Left the Jets

It was clear that an emotional Maurice is at peace with his decision to part ways with the Jets. He noted it was just time to move on and was proud of the work he’d done. He had no issues with the organization or the players and didn’t believe he’d lost the room, he simply said, “I pushed the rock up the mountain for so long, but you can only push it so far … I’m really comfortable where I handed it off.”

Elliotte Friedman quoted Maurice when the now-former coach said, “This is a good team, I’m a good coach…but sometimes you can only push so far. Sometimes a team needs a new voice. They haven’t quit on me, but need a different voice. It’s the right time for it, and I know that.” He thanked everyone, including the media and said, “It was a great day when I got hired by the Jets — for the Jets and for me. Today’s a great day, too. For the Jets and for me as well.”

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Dave Lowry will take over as interim coach and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has said Lowry will coach the remainder of the season. From there, it is expected a search for a new coach (or giving Lowry the full-time job) will take place.

Spezza’s Suspension Reduced

According to Chris Johnston, “Jason Spezza‘s six-game kneeing suspension has been reduced to four games by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. He’s eligible to play tomorrow in Vancouver.”

Jason Spezza Toronto Maple Leafs
Jason Spezza, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This is a big deal for a few reasons. One, Bettman doesn’t often reduce suspensions levied by the NHL DoPS. Two, it goes to show the league looks at a player’s history and heavily considered the fact that Spezza had no history of predatory plays or ever tried to hurt another player. The other reason for the change seems to be that Neal Pionk only missed three games from the injury.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Depth Will Be Key to Playoff Success

Bettman talked about his decision and explained, “My decision to reduce the length of the suspension is based primarily on an undisputed fact: Mr. Spezza’s admirable record of clean play over a 19 season, 1,300 game career, which is an important factor that is expressly emphasized in Section 18.2(c) of the CBA. I note that this record supports Mr. Spezza’s reputation for clean play and has never received a warning or counseling from DPS about conduct coming close to the line and leads me to give Mr. Spezza the benefit of the doubt in terms of his intention.”

Could the NHL Hit Pause?

The rash of players being added to COVID protocol continued on Friday as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was added for the Oilers. He’s the fourth person from the team — following Ryan McLeod, Devin Shore, and Dave Tippett — who will likely miss games because of the testing.

The Oilers are hardly the only team affected by this as numerous games have been postponed — the NHL has announced the game scheduled between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens for tomorrow night will be postponed — and new COVID measures have been put in place, some buildings with reduced capacity. The NHL is trying to find a way to slow the spread and taxi squads are rumored again, with some chatter the NHL might consider putting the season on hold for a small period of time.

As per a report by TSN, Nashville Predators forward Nick Cousins tweeted that the season should be paused until after Christmas as the number of cases rises and there is extra stress added to the players and their families. Unfortunately for Cousins, he’s in the minority of players because most know that shutting down the season likely means the NHL won’t be participating in the Olympics and any revenues lost by the league has to be shared by the players.

John Tavares and Alex Kerfoot were added to the COVID protocol list on Friday.

Flames COVID Protocol List Grows

The Calgary Flames have added around 20 players to the list of names entered into the COVID protocol. The team has now reached 31 cases, including 19 players. Among the names, Mikael Backlund, Dillon Dube, Oliver Kylington, Rasmus Andersson, Byron Froese, Johnny Gaudreau, Erik Gudbranson, Trevor Lewis, Jacob Markstrom, and Tyler Pitlick.

Bruins’ Game Postponed, Canadiens Back on Monday

It was only a matter of time before the Bruins saw games pushed back. Jeremy Swayman, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, and Oskar Steen joined Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Craig Smith as players listed in the league’s protocol. It’s not clear when the Bruins’ games will resume.

As for the Canadiens, they played in front of an empty arena Thursday due to rising cases and are scheduled to resume their regular-season schedule Monday against the Islanders. New York Islanders.