While NHL arenas continue to be shuttered and will remain that way for the foreseeable future, a big step was taken towards the resumption of play which is among the top stories of the past seven days.
3ICE Coaches Named: Next summer is pegged to be the launch of a new three-on-three league called 3ICE. It will be a travelling series with eight teams playing a tournament each Saturday night. The head coaches for the inaugural season were revealed and it’s a notable list as Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Eddie Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero, and Bryan Trottier will run the teams. Six of those are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. 56 players will eventually join the league although we’re a long way from learning who will participate.
Short-Term Extensions Coming: In a normal year, the league season ends on June 30th with unrestricted free agency beginning the next day. However, with play not set to resume until likely July, that throws a wrinkle into that timetable. Instead, uniform contract slides are expected for the players which will solve that issue. However, such an agreement isn’t guaranteed for coaches or front-office staff. While teams that are returning would want their coaches on expiring deals to be extended, those that aren’t finished may not require that. Scouts often change teams in the summer and with the draft date being uncertain, extensions may be needed for those as well. The players will be covered at least but more work here is still required.
Boedker To Switzerland: It has been a tough season for Mikkel Boedker. After being a regular with Ottawa last season where he had a respectable 35 points in 71 games, his role was reduced considerably this year as he played in just 20 contests, averaging less than ten minutes a night in those. Instead of trying to find a new NHL home on the open market, he decided to head overseas, inking a two-year deal with HC Lugano of the Swiss NLA. The 30-year-old has spent a dozen seasons in the NHL, recording 327 points along the way but barring an offensive resurgence in Switzerland, it appears as if his NHL time has come to an end.
AHL Awards: With the AHL season now officially done, the league announced their end-of-season All-Star teams as well as the All-Rookie team. There were two players who appeared on both squads as Senators center Josh Norris made the First All-Star Team while Canucks defensive prospect Brogan Rafferty was on the Second All-Star squad. Wild winger Gerald Mayhew led the league in goals scored with 39 in just 49 games but wasn’t able to land on the first team but three other Minnesota representatives were able to in goalie Kaapo Kahkonen, defenseman Brennan Menell, and winger Sam Anas, who led the league in points with 70 in 67 games.
NHLPA Votes For 24-Team Return: While we are still a long way from resuming games, it appears that it will be a 24-team format if and when they do. The NHLPA voted 29-2 in favor of continuing discussions on that format assuming that other logistical, financial, and player safety issues can also be worked out. (Tampa Bay and Carolina were the two ‘no’ votes.) The effective expansion of the playoffs by eight teams (although the play-in round appears to be technically classified as not part of the postseason) certainly carries a wide variety of opinions but it at least provides a roadmap for how games could resume over the next couple of months.