Jets begin long process of preparing for ‘sprint’ series against the Flames — Winnipeg Sun

Back in the spring of 2018, the Winnipeg Jets had exactly one day to prepare for their Western Conference final series against the Vegas Golden Knights after they knocked off the Nashville Predators in seven games. Read More

Jets begin long process of preparing for ‘sprint’ series against the Flames — Winnipeg Sun

Back in the spring of 2018, the Winnipeg Jets had exactly one day to prepare for their Western Conference final series against the Vegas Golden Knights after they knocked off the Nashville Predators in seven games.

Contrast that to this year, when Jets head coach Paul Maurice has about two months — including a two-week training camp — to game plan and prepare his team for a best-of-five summer series against the Calgary Flames.

“Never in the history of hockey have you pre-scouted a playoff game a month and a half in advance,” Maurice said Monday after the Jets returned to the ice for the first time since the COVID-19 shut down on March 12.

“There’s a great thing there but there’s a danger there too.”

“That is such a real question of philosophy. When you poll the other NHL coaches and ask ‘What’s your plan for that?’ the one thing we all kind of get to is the primary priority No. 1 is your own team and your own game.”

The Jets practised at the IcePlex on Monday as preparations for the NHL’s return to play began in earnest.

In 13 days they’ll head to Edmonton and go into the hub city bubble, before opening up against the Flames on Aug. 1 at Rogers Place.

It’s the first time the Jets and Flames will meet since the Heritage Classic outdoor game on Oct. 26 in Regina. At the time Bill Peters was still the Flames head coach, but he submitted his resignation amid racism and bullying allegations on Nov. 29 and Geoff Ward took over.

All that is going to make this hockey series in August even more bizarre.

“The really kind of neat story is that there probably isn’t another team in the NHL, that based on last season, we know less about,” Maurice said. “We had one game against them, so that would almost make them like an Eastern Conference opponent, and it was an outdoor game and they had a different coach.

“So both teams don’t have any memory of a style of game or what it might look like. It’s been at least a year and a half I guess before these two teams can remember the hockey. So this is going to be unusual for sure, but certainly exciting.”

The entire NHL went dark because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the playoffs were expanded to 24 teams for the return to play, so there’s very little that’s normal about the situation the players are currently in.

They’re undergoing regular testing for the coronavirus — a highly uncomfortable process they jokingly call the “brain tickler” — doing all their media availabilities over Zoom and skating on soft summer ice in a foggy arena.

Still, there’s one thing that’s the same as every year — they’re trying to come up with a way to beat Calgary and move on to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

“Besides everybody being cautious and wearing a mask, it’s not that different,” forward Nikolaj Ehlers said. “We’re not hugging each other or giving high fives and stuff like we usually do. But other than that we’re in our locker room, not sitting too close to each other but still talking, and making the most of this situation.

“Everybody is back for a reason. We love playing hockey and we’re back playing it.”

They’ll skate most days between now and July 26, when they are slated to leave for Edmonton. The idea is to hit the ground running when they get there.

They’ll play one exhibition game and then get right into the series, which will likely be quite a bit different from any they’ve played before.

“You can get into a seven-game series, and if you think the two teams are evenly matched you say ‘I think this is gonna be a grinder,’” Maurice said.

“I think you go back to the last seven-game series, the Nashville series, that we had, you almost could predict it, you could feel it. There were two points that separated the teams in the regular season, so it could go to seven.

“This one will be viewed far more as a sprint. As hard and as fast as you can go. Everybody will be talking about running four lines but that bench might get a little short, a little early. I would say I’m not sure because I’ve never been in a five-gamer in the NHL and we’ve had four months off before we play it. But I think there might be a mindset of ‘This is gonna be a sprint.’ So there’s no sense saving them for Game 6.”

Maurice trying to find way to push players but not push too hard in training camp

The first day of Winnipeg Jets return-to-play training camp was not exactly a high-intensity affair.

Coach Paul Maurice wanted to get a sense of how each player was feeling, knowing that some had ample access to ice during the pandemic shutdown, while others barely skated at all.

Maurice normally pushes his players hard in the first session of training camp, but this year there will be a delicate balance between getting everyone ready for a series against Calgary and overdoing it.

“That’s the challenge here, for sure,” Maurice said. “You don’t want to be crossing that line. The result of losing a player early right now (to injury) can be disastrous.

“But if you’re looking at a risk/reward, your team has to get pushed here. At some point here, we’re going to get to the right pace. Because you can say ‘Hey great, got through the first game and we didn’t have one injury.’ But if your team’s not ready, you’re only playing three games.”

Twyman@postmedia.com

It’s back to work for Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas — Toronto Sun

Q: What pressure does the flat cap in the CBA put on you to win this tournament while you can keep this roster together? Read More

It’s back to work for Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas — Toronto Sun

After being teased for years about his youth and inexperience, Kyle Dubas is at last on level ground with every other NHL general manager.

None of them ever had to guide their teams through this kind of season, halted for four months by a global pandemic, restarted with a daring mid-summer 24-team tournament with COVID-19 still not eliminated and last week’s new CBA changing the big picture.

On the eve of Monday’s opening of Maple Leafs training camp for Return To Play, the 34-year-old Dubas discussed with Toronto media the challenges facing himself and his club. Here’s a Q&A from the conference call.

Q: What pressure does the flat cap in the CBA put on you to win this tournament while you can keep this roster together?

A: “I don’t look at the situation and say this is our only chance. If we didn’t have our core guys locked up for this year and next, I would maybe feel a little bit differently. We have the 2019-20 contracts to finish and the ‘20-21s.

“I know that seems to be the narrative about the team. But I don’t feel that this season there should be any added pressure. I think the players have an expectation and we have an expectation that we’re going to be competitive and of course try to contend to win the Stanley Cup.

“If we were facing a decision of our core players, we’d have to make a major move. We’re going to have some space to take care of our RFAs and potentially look at some of our own UFAs. We have time.

“(But) with the cap flat, our development system will be paramount.”

Q: When did the last players arrive in Toronto, do you anticipate any Leafs will opt out of RTP by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline and what do you think of players who have already done so?

“I don’t think it looks right now that any of the players we have invited will be opting out, I don’t have any inkling of that. The players have mostly all been here for quite a while now, at least a week off the top of my head.

“I think (opting out) was a great thing for the League and the PA to do. If any of our players were to opt out for any reason, we’d be fully understanding. This is such a difficult time in the world and whether it’s for reasons of underlying health or just general family reasons or whether you’re just not comfortable. I certainly respect any of our players who would feel that way and any player in the league or staff member that would feel that way.”

Q: What might your final roster look like in terms of numbers?

A: “We want to make sure that every roster player has a role. We didn’t want to have two or three extra guys at the bottom that didn’t really feel that they were close to playing. So maybe up to 28 or 29 players (15 to 16 forwards, nine to 10 defencemen, three goaltenders).

“What I would say to all those players (competing on the fringe) is they’ve got the chance to make an impact. That’s one of the great things about this next two weeks. We’re going to have some time to evaluate everybody. If Nick (Robertson), Kenny Agostino or Adam Brooks step up and are beating down the door throughout training camp, we’re going to give them opportunity.”

“(Forward) Nic Petan was deemed fit to play by our medical staff (Sunday). He had been a full participant in Phase 2, so he will be added to the roster and (Marlies defenceman) Mac Hollowell will be removed.”

Q: What will determine if Robertson makes the team?

A: “The way that he performs in practises and scrimmages. We’re going to give him every shot. We’re not going to look at his age (18). If he can make an impact playing with older, stronger players, we’ll roll from there.

“The latter half of this week we’ll start to replicate game experiences. It’s not a normal camp with 70 guys. There’s no ability (for Robertson) to get lost.

“We have to make cuts as we go along to be bubble compliant.”

Q: Are there any advantages to being at Scotiabank Arena with 11 other teams?

A: “There is a bit of familiarity. But there’s not going to be any fans, no game operations. I think there’s also a challenge of the fact that your family is 10 minutes away and on July 26 when we move in (the hotel), we’re all going to be sealed in away from them.

“We know the rink, but we’re going to be abiding by such strict protocols and entry and exit and we’re not getting any preferred treatment in terms of hotel or facilities. I think the League has done a pretty good job of keeping that very fair. The only advantage is we don’t have a flight to get here.”   

Q: What will the caliber of hockey be like in RTP?

A: “I have no idea. We’re going to find out soon, though. There’s no experience that anyone has had – you could maybe look at some of the World Cups and Canada Cups that have come off long layoffs – but even then, those are August tournaments coming off a May, June, April finish, depending on where you were in the standings.

This is an August resumption after a March ending, so almost a five-month layoff with really one exhibition game.”

Q: Who else will be living in the bubble besides you and (team president) Brendan Shanahan?

A: “We’ll have the six-person coaching staff (Sheldon Keefe, assistants Paul McFarland and Dave Hakstol, goalie coach Steve Briere and video coaches Andrew Brewer and Jordan Bean). And then every other staff member are people we’d deem that directly benefit the player’s performance (medical, trainers, etc.).”

Q: What do you think of the RTP format?

A: “The NHL has done a great job of adapting to find a way to certainly recognize that playoff races weren’t over and to have teams that were in the race kept alive.

“Despite the fact if the season had just ended on March 10 we would have in the playoffs and scheduled to play Tampa, I don’t think that it’s unfair that we have to play a qualifying round whatsoever because we were still supposed to have 12 games left to try to either make up some ground or secure our space.

“I think it’s very fairly set up even though we’re one of those teams that’s gone from playoffs into a qualifying round like a number of others that are seeded five through eight.

“None of us have ever been in a series where seven of the teams are staying in the same hotel. It’s like minor hockey where if the game in front of you runs a little bit long, you’re kind of waiting for that game to end in overtime or what have you.”

Q: What will this be like for Keefe?

A: “When we made the coaching change (Mike Babcock being fired in late November)  Sheldon had one morning skate to get the team up and running for a game that night. Now he’s had essentially a full build up with the coaching staff. And we’ll have a two-week camp to get the players up and rolling, so I think there’s some good fortune for us on that end as well.

“We’re excited to see that, not only for the short run, but I think it’s a great experience for Sheldon and will help us and help him. And we’re largely past some of the injuries that had plagued us at the end of the season. We’re certainly excited to see (a fully healthy blueline).”

Q: What’s Auston Matthews’ status? (the Leafs’ leading scorer contracted Covid during the spring at his summer residence in Scottsdale, Ariz.)

A: “He’s fit to play”

Q: The team goes against Columbus without a lot of recent playoff success.

A: “I’m optimistic. This is our fourth series. We do have experience; guys know ebbs and flows now. Guys on the team that have been in the American League and with the Marlies have played in a lot of series and most of them have played in best of five as well. I think all of that is great to handle and to certainly go back on for experience as we kind of work our way through it.

“With regards to our chances, I think like every team now, we’re largely past some of the injuries that had plagued us at the end of the season and those players are due back (Jake Muzzin, Ilya Mikheyev).

“(The Blue Jackets) have a very specific organizational culture and ethos about them. They’re extremely hard-working. They’re a group that handles resiliency extremely well. They’re obviously a very tight-knit group”.

Q: You want to move on from talk you could win the draft lottery, but that could happen if you lose in the first round.

A: “That’s not where we’re thinking. If you don’t win that lottery, then it’s still a disappointing season. It’s so far away from where our franchise is at and what we’re trying to do.

“You lose, you get a 12.5% chance of winning the first pick and all of those eight teams get the same chance. To me the probability of losing and then winning the pick is still so low that we don’t really look at it that way.

“Our whole focus is on doing everything we can to try to win 19 games.”

Q: You’ve come through some injuries as mentioned. And what’s the outlook for Andreas Johnsson’s knee injury?

A: “I don’t look at the injuries necessarily as a negative thing because they allowed us to see (defencemen) Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl in a role that we thought he might be capable of. He grabbed the wheel with both hands and showed he’s able and certainly capable of playing big minutes in the NHL.

“(Injuries) allowed us to learn about our prospects on defence that will help us as we go into this stage in terms of depth and certainly in the future. I think that the injuries that we had throughout the year were more of a blessing. They forced us to put guys in a higher spot in the lineup like Travis Dermott when Muzzin went out of the lineup.

“Andreas was a six-month timeline. He would be somebody that we could expect to see, if all goes well with the end of his rehab, perhaps beginning at the second round of the actual playoffs to be safe. He’s done well with his rehab, in Gothenburg (Sweden).”

Q: How has the team handled Phase 2, the smaller group practices, and all the restrictions as you enter Phase 3?

A: “I’ve been extremely impressed by the way that all of our players have handled this, which is a voluntary phase; how hard they’ve worked, what they’ve requested from our staff to help them with and their commitment throughout. I know in the long term that will pay off and we’re certainly hopeful that, in the short term here as we get back, that has a great impact on where we’re going as a program.”

Q: Is the team ready for the isolation, the bubble environment and all that goes into the lengthy RTP protocols?

A: “It’s easier for us to see the finish line from Toronto, because of the job (three levels of government) have done to handle the virus. I don’t know what it would feel like to be in a spot where the virus is running rampant.”

lhornby@postmedia.com0 Comments

Leafs announce camp roster — Toronto Sun

Read More

Leafs announce camp roster — Toronto Sun


Leafs announce camp roster

Lance HornbyMore from Lance Hornby

Published:July 12, 2020

Updated:July 12, 2020 10:34 AM EDT

Summer hockey is here for the Maple Leafs.

The club announced its 34-man training camp roster Sunday morning ahead of Monday’s official start of training camp for the 24-team Return To Play tournament for the Stanley Cup.

Toronto, which opens a best-of-five qualifying round Aug. 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Scotiabank Arena, will have all hands on deck from the postponed regular season, including players such as Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen, who spent much of the four-month COVID-19 suspension of games in the United States. Matthews, who tested positive for the condition last month and others coming from outside Canada either self quarantined before or are part of the NHL bubble, arranged with the Canadian government to keep returning players within bounds of the rink and hotel during the 12-team Eastern Conference part of the tournament, in and around SBA.

As expected, the Leafs added junior draft pick sensation Nick Robertson to the roster at forward, along with AHL Marlies top scorer Kenny Agostino. On defence, youngster Mac Hollowell and prospect Teemu Kivihalme are coming, too, with rookie goalie Joseph Woll behind Andersen, Jack Campbell and Kasimir Kaskisuo.

Ilya Mikheyev, who suffered a serious wrist tendon injury in December has returned, but winger Andreas Johnsson (knee surgery)  is still out. Only 31 players will be picked for the tournament.

The rest of the roster, listed here, played at some point for the Leafs prior to the stoppage in play when the COVID-19 pandemic began raging in early March. General manager Kyle Dubas was to address the media Sunday afternoon.

FORWARDS (18)

Kenny Agostino

Adam Brooks

Kyle Clifford

Pierre Engvall

Tyler Gaudet

Frederik Gauthier

Zach Hyman

Kasperi Kapanen

Alex Kerfoot

Egor Korshkov

Denis Malgin

Mitch Marner

Auston Matthews

Ilya Mikheyev

William Nylander

Nicholas Robertson

Jason Spezza

John Tavares

DEFENCE (12)

Tyson Barrie

Cody Ceci

Travis Dermott

Justin Holl

Mac Hollowell

Teemu Kivilhalme

Timothy Liljegren

Martun Marincin

Jake Muzzin

Morgan Rielly

Calle Rosen

Rasmus Sandin

GOALIES (4)

Frederik Andersen

Jack Campbell

Kasimir Kaskisuo

Joseph Woll0 

Oilers defenceman Mike Green opts out of return to play tournament — Edmonton Sun

Defenceman Mike Green, who was acquired by the Edmonton Oilers just prior to the NHL trade deadline in February, has opted out of the NHL’s return to play tournament. Read More

Oilers defenceman Mike Green opts out of return to play tournament — Edmonton Sun

How much the NHL could make by restarting its season — Fortune

With the NHL set to return to action on Aug. 1, the league has a chance to recoup some of the revenue lost during the coronavirus shutdown.

How much the NHL could make by restarting its season — Fortune

The National Hockey League is gearing up for a return. On Monday, the league and its players’ union announced an agreement to finish the 2019–20 season with a 24-team postseason tournament starting Aug. 1. The plan hinges on strict health and safety protocols, including daily COVID-19 testing for players and staff, but, as of now, the NHL is set to resume action for the first time since March 12.

The decision isn’t without controversy. The novel coronavirus pandemic is still raging across the U.S., leading the NHL to reportedly center the remaining games in two Canadian hub cities, Toronto and Edmonton. A week before the restart was agreed upon, Sportsnet reporter Eric Engels, quoting players anonymously, said, “One player said a majority of the players do not want to return to play this summer. Estimated 75%.”

Engels quoted another saying: “Calls with the NHL [Players’ Association] have been ‘a joke’” and that they merely revolved around the financial incentives. This speaks to the point that while the spirit of competition and a sense of closure is important to some, there are financial stakes hinging on the season’s completion, as well.

The NHL would stand to lose out on roughly $1 billion if the season was not completed, according to projections from the Associated Press and other outlets. As of now, total revenues for the 2019–20 season sit at $3.9 billion, the Los Angeles Times reported. The season before, the NHL brought in just over $5 billion.

A big part of that revenue comes from a hefty television deal with NBC. The NHL signed a 10-year national deal with NBC in 2011 that nets the league $200 million annually in the U.S. alone. The NHL also has a national TV deal with Canada’s Rogers Communications worth $4.9 billion over 12 years, beginning in 2013. These totals don’t count various deals signed with local broadcasters, as well. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer, completing the playoff tournament could net the NHL roughly $500 million altogether in TV revenue.

There are stakes beyond this season when it comes to TV revenue. The NBC deal is set to expire in 2021, and the NHL will be looking for the best possible leverage when it comes to negotiating a new contract.

For now, it looks like the NHL will get some of that leverage back with plans to finish the season in place. Players are set to return to training camp on July 13, and there will be a chance to see how fans respond to watching empty-arena games for the remainder of the season.

The NHL is not the only league looking to finish what was started: NBA players have reported to Disney World in Orlando to compete in a similar style tournament, and MLB recently announced a schedule for a shortened season. Meanwhile, major soccer league competition in Europe has been underway for several weeks now, albeit in empty stadiums, to finish the teams’ respective seasons.

Chicago Blackhawks to keep nickname, logo in continuing tribute to namesake — The Latest News

[ad_1] Chicago’s NHL team says it will not change its nickame or logo because both pay tribute to the person for whom the club is named. The Blackhawks said in a statement Tuesday (per the Chicago Sun-Times) that the team name honors Black Hawk, a member of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, “whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native […]

Chicago Blackhawks to keep nickname, logo in continuing tribute to namesake — The Latest News

Chicago’s NHL workforce says it won’t change its nickame or emblem as a result of each pay tribute to the particular person for whom the membership is named.

The Blackhawks mentioned in a press release Tuesday (per the Chicago Solar-Instances) that the workforce identify honors Black Hawk, a member of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, “whose management and life has impressed generations of Native Individuals, veterans and the general public.”

“‘We have fun Black Hawk’s legacy by providing ongoing reverent examples of Native American tradition, traditions and contributions, offering a platform for real dialogue with native and nationwide Native American teams,” the workforce added.

Black Hawk died in 1838, nearly 90 years earlier than Chicago entered the NHL in 1926. The workforce’s authentic proprietor, Frederic McLaughlin, named the squad after his U.S. Military unit in World Struggle I, the 86th Infantry Division, aka the Blackhawk Division. The division itself was named for Black Hawk.

N’s NAME CHANGE OPTIONS FOR . . . Redskins | Indians

The Blackhawks’ announcement got here amid latest requires different skilled sports activities franchises, notably the NFL’s Redskins and MLB’s Indians and Braves, to alter their nicknames. The Redskins are exploring a reputation change after public stress from sponsors and one of many workforce’s house owners. The Indians likewise are choices. The Braves usually are not contemplating a brand new identify (per The Athletic), however they might think about not initiating the Tomahawk Chop chant.

There was a lot much less clamor for the NFL’s Chiefs and NBA’s Warriors to alter their names.

“We acknowledge there’s a superb line between respect and disrespect, and we commend different groups for his or her willingness to have interaction in that dialog,” the Blackhawks mentioned of their assertion.

Oskar Lindblom: Cancer-free and hopeful for a return — The Liberty Line

This past Thursday, Oskar Lindblom officially rang the bell at Pennsylvania Hospital’s Abramson Cancer Center. The Flyers forward had been battling a rare form of bone cancer known as Ewing’s Sarcoma since December 2019. Both Lindblom and the Flyers posted videos of the bell ringing, a ceremonial act that patients perform once they have completed […]

Oskar Lindblom: Cancer-free and hopeful for a return — The Liberty Line

Bobby Orr Believes Sidney Crosby Is Among Best NHL Players Of All Time — NESN.com

Is Sidney Crosby one of the best NHL players of all time? Bobby Orr certainly thinks so. The Boston Bruins legend told The Athletic’s Josh Yohe he thinks the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar belongs among the greats like himself, Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. And he’s not kidding around, either. “Please, please,” Orr said,…

Bobby Orr Believes Sidney Crosby Is Among Best NHL Players Of All Time — NESN.com

Is Sidney Crosby one of the best NHL players of all time? Bobby Orr certainly thinks so.

The Boston Bruins legend told The Athletic’s Josh Yohe he thinks the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar belongs among the greats like himself, Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. And he’s not kidding around, either.

“Please, please,” Orr said, per Yohe. “I want you to be very comfortable putting Sidney Crosby’s name with the rest of us. Just trust me on that one. He’s so, so special.” Don’t worry, Orr came with receipts. “First of all, if you ask those other guys on the list, I know that they’ll tell you the same thing I’m about to tell you. Sid belongs on that list,” Orr said. “Sure, there’s the talent that he has and the drive. But look at what he’s been through. That tells me something. Look at the injuries he’s dealt with, especially earlier in his career. He’s been beat up, hurt, been through so, so much. And through it all, look at what he’s accomplished.

“He’s won all of those Cups. He’s won the Olympics. Scored the goal to win it, in fact. The World Cups he’s won. The numbers he’s put up. Everything he’s done. He’s one of the greatest hockey players of all time.” Fair enough. In 984 career games, Crosby has amassed 1,263 points (462 goals, 801 assists) and a whopping 175 plus-minus. The three-time Stanley Cup champion currently holds several of NHL records, including youngest player to record 100 points in a season (18 years, 253 days), youngest NHL captain to win the Stanley Cup (21 years, 10 months, and 5 days) and youngest Art Ross Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award winner. So yeah, Orr’s assessment definitely is valid.

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2020/06/bobby-orr-believes-sidney-crosby-is-among-best-nhl-players-of-all-time/

Leafs’ Andersen seeks more info, but says “I want to play” this summer — Toronto Sun

Frederik Andersen wants to be back in his crease this summer. Read More

Leafs’ Andersen seeks more info, but says “I want to play” this summer — Toronto Sun


Leafs’ Andersen seeks more info, but says “I want to play” this summer

Terry KoshanMore from Terry Koshan

Published:June 30, 2020

Updated:June 30, 2020 4:51 PM EDT

Filed Under:

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Frederik Andersen wants to be back in his crease this summer.

The Maple Leafs goaltender would love nothing more than to try to help Toronto eliminate the Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round of Phase 4 of the National Hockey League’s Return to Play plan.

Before that potentially happens, however, Andersen is willing to wait.

“I don’t think we have enough information yet,” Andersen said on Tuesday during a Zoom call with media, referring to which way he might vote on a return to play given the health issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic that must be taken into account.

“The PA (NHL Players’ Association) and the league are still ironing that out and then we will see. It seems like it’s the 11th hour here, so hopefully things will progress in the next week or so because the July 10th goal (to open training camp) is coming up soon. I’ll make that decision once I get more info.

“The whole thing in general has to make sense. Safety is very important and probably the most important.

“I want to play. I don’t want to just sit and waste a summer and a season.”

The NHL announced on Monday that 26 players in total have tested positive for COVID-19 since June 8, including 15 who have reported to training facilities for optional workouts as part of Phase 2.

Andersen, who has been back in Toronto “for quite a bit now,” was asked what gives him confidence that it will be safe for the NHL to return to play games this summer.

“I’m not quite 100% confident yet,” Andersen said. “The league is very adamant in working toward that.

“I think once we get to the hub cities, everyone will have to be confident and the league will have a good setup. It’s a matter of getting there first.”

The announcement of the NHL’s two hub cities is expected relatively soon. Las Vegas, Toronto, Edmonton, Chicago and Los Angeles were the last cities to be in the running.

“If it is a bubble and it’s done the right way, I don’t think it really should matter (which cities are chosen),” Andersen said. “It could be anywhere. Whatever is the best setup, once we figure that out, I hope we should be good to go.”

And if the Leafs play in Toronto? Andersen doesn’t see that as an advantage.

“Once everyone is there, I think people will be familiar with the hotel, the rink, all that stuff,” Andersen said. “There won’t be fans, obviously, so I think all that stuff will be a pretty even playing field for everyone.”

Andersen had been staying with Leafs centre Auston Matthews initially during the NHL pause at Matthews’ home in Scottsdale, Ariz., but said he was in California working out with his personal trainer when the state of Arizona recently saw a spike in coronavirus cases. Andersen wouldn’t comment on Matthews’ positive COVID-19 test result, reported by the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons on June 19.

“Regarding everyone else and other people’s medical, I don’t want to comment on that,” Andersen said. “I don’t think it’s the right thing for me to do that.”

Andersen has been taking part in on-ice sessions at the Ford Performance Centre in the voluntary workouts, but otherwise must quarantine in his downtown condo until his two-week period is done. It will conclude before July 10, Andersen said.

“The Leafs have done an amazing job of cleaning the facility out there and I think they have done a really good job of setting us up for a safe environment,” Andersen said.

“I feel like I have been able to keep my good shape and work on things I could off the ice, but the on-ice timing is going to be key.”

And then, if the NHL has been able to properly move to Phase 4, a Leafs date with the Blue Jackets.

“They’re a deep team, a team we have to be ready for,” Andersen said. “It will be a tough task, but something we have to work on and getting confident we can win.”

tkoshan@postmedia.com

JONES: NHL hub city selection shouldn’t be about more than player safety — Edmonton Sun

Well, it is the Stanley Cup playoffs. So I guess you should expect a couple of overtimes. Read More

JONES: NHL hub city selection shouldn’t be about more than player safety — Edmonton Sun

Well, it is the Stanley Cup playoffs. So I guess you should expect a couple of overtimes.

The Great Hub City Series of 2020, the battle to co-host all of the games of COVID Cup, keeps getting extended.

We’re at the point now, however, where Edmonton has to be getting a complex.

At this point, you couldn’t be blamed for coming to the conclusion the NHL and NHL Players Association are trying to dodge the one location with the ultimate set-up in order to end up in a sexier city.

Let us review.

Las Vegas is a lock in the U.S. It’s Toronto, Edmonton or Vancouver as the Canadian city.

Hold it. Toronto is out. Their bid has fallen significantly short because they can’t match the safety bubble setups involving hotels and the arena that Vegas, Vancouver and Edmonton will be able to provide. It’s down to Edmonton or Vancouver in Canada to go with Vegas.

Hold it. Vancouver is out. Dr. Bonnie Henry has hit a snag when it comes to who is making the decisions on what happens to the other players on a team if someone tests positive during tournament play.

Hold it. Toronto has reshaped its bid by totally relocating its bubble away from the downtown arena and hotels to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. It’s now down to Edmonton and Toronto.

Hold it … there’s still too much to get through here and the coronavirus numbers are going way up in Vegas. It’s going to overtime over the weekend, said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly before heading to a New Jersey TV studio with commissioner Gary Bettman to conduct the NHL Draft Lottery.

So what’s this been like to be Oilers Entertainment Group vice-presidents Tim Shipton and Stuart Ballantyne, working their way through this putting all the pieces together, following the NHL wish lists to a T and offering everything Bettman and the league and players required and more?

And that’s complete with working out logical and reasoned logistics with Dr. Deena Hinshaw and her responsible Alberta health team?

I mean, what do they want?

They’re not on the phone asking if they can tweak this or tweak that? Just hold the phone, fellas.

Ballantyne and Shipton had nothing to say Friday and won’t until a decision has been made.

That Edmonton could finish third in this now dog and pony show is laughable.

Housing everybody at the CNE grounds in Toronto and commuting all 12 teams to Scotia Bank Arena for games and around the neighbourhood to practice ice is ludicrous in comparison to the Edmonton set-up.

In Edmonton, the players on all 12 teams would reside in the five-star J. W. Marriott hotel, secure in a bubble that includes an inordinate number of dressing rooms and a practice facility in Rogers Place, complete with a pedway between the hotel and arena.

Other people involved, staff, referees and TV people would be housed, in the first round, in the Delta and Sutton Place, a short walk away, with Edmonton police officers keeping them company to remain secure in the bubble.

I mean, compare the two.

If it’s just about hockey and life in the bubble, there’s no comparison.

How do you now come to the conclusion the league is hoping to trump the ideal set-up in Edmonton by bringing in a long list of other items into play?

• Sportsnet TV is based in Toronto.
• Hockey Night In Canada is based in Toronto.
• The NHL has offices in Toronto.
• The NHL war room is in Toronto.
• And don’t forget the Eastern Time zone.

It would be a lot easier to spread six televised games a day (even if start times are largely irrelevant with no fans in the stands) with one team in the Eastern Time zone and Vegas in the Pacific.

And it’s about Vegas.

Yes, the hotel room set up couldn’t be better anywhere else in the world. But has anybody noticed the coronavirus numbers since they reopened the casinos?

Oilers colour commentator Bob Stauffer has. He’s been keeping statistics on all this back to when the hub cities concept began.

Las Vegas has 12,204 cases (2,754 in the last week.)

Edmonton’s has had 925 total.

Vegas has 408 deaths to Edmonton’s 15 — only three in the last 56 days.

Nevada has 118 in intensive care compared to eight in Alberta and only two of them in Edmonton.

Vegas and Toronto?

If that’s how it ends up, the NHL will clearly have followed the NBA, locating to ESPN’s centre at Disney World in COVID-19 out-of-control Florida, into losing total focus on the main aim here.

If it’s all about player safety — and it should be — if the NHL loses Edmonton as a hub city, the NHL loses.

E-mail: tjones@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @ByTerryJones

Vancouver Out As Potential NHL Return Hub City, Canucks Announce — NESN.com

Another city was taken off the short list for consideration to become one of two hub cities for the National Hockey League’s return-to-play plan. The Canucks confirmed on Thursday that Vancouver was out of the running via Twitter. “From the beggining, our goal was to help the NHL get hockey back on the ice if…

Vancouver Out As Potential NHL Return Hub City, Canucks Announce — NESN.com