USHL 2019-20 Season Done

The United States Hockey League has decided to cancel their 2019-20 season six days after postponing on March 12.

The decision was made today by the USHL Board of Directors for “best interest of USHL athletes, staff, officials and fans in mind.”

Any playoffs look to be canceled as well. USHL President and Commissioner Tom Garrity told USHL.com that “This decision was not an easy one to make, but was a necessity in order to keep our athletes, staffs and fans in all 16 of our communities safe amid this international health risk. While we believe our product is the best junior hockey that fans can view, we also understand the health of our athletes, employees, fans and communities is more important during this time.”

The press release did mention that “the USHL will announce the 2019-20 season awards in the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, in Russia, the Kontinental Hockey League has suspended play during the Gagarin Cup playoffs because of the pandemic. The recommendation came from the Russian “Ministry of Sport and various regional authorities across Russia” according to the preface to an interview with KHL President Alexei Morozov on the league’s official website published today.

The decision came after the Mayor of Moscow placed “restrictions [on the number of people who could gather at one event.” Moscow clubs Dynamo and Spartak were in the middle of their playoff series and “still had one or two game[s] left to play.”

Since it was hard to comply with keeping fans, players, officials and staff safe while still being able to carry on the game with fans in the stands, they decided to pull the plug temporarily.

KHL team Jokerit of Helsinki, Finland had dropped out of the playoffs due to advice from the Finnish government and the Finnish Health Ministry. Barys of Kazakhstan will also not continue in the playoffs when/if things get going again.

Morozov said that there is a possibility that the season could be could not be finished. He said “the KHL will do everything possible to complete the season as soon as the risks to our players and supporters are gone.”

In addition to all of that, the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto is “closed effective Saturday, March 14, 2020.” It is scheduled to reopen April 6, “subject to further notice as management continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation via public health authorities.”

Qualifying Offers Extended by Devils to Eight Players

According to articles written today by Abbey Mastracco of the North Jersey Record and Chris Ryan of The Star Ledger, the Devils have extended qualifying offers to eight players.

The players are all restricted free agents. They also declined “qualifying offers for two players, making them unrestricted free agents on July 1” according to Ryan. The players given qualifying offers were forwards Miles Wood, Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen among those who played in the NHL last season and also defenseman Steven Santini. According to Ryan, “AHL players Nick Lappin, Kevin Rooney, Michael Kapla and Christoph Bertschy also received qualifying offers.”

Ryan also said that “(f)orward Mario Lucia and goalie Ken Appleby did not get qualifying offers.” Although the Devils could still re-sign them should they choose, they will be unrestricted free agents on July 1.

According to Mastracco, Noesen, Coleman, Lappin and Rooney are arbitration eligable. She said that “(t)he deadline to file for salary arbitration is July 5. Both Coleman and Noesen made $660,000 last season on one-year deals according to Mastracco.

In other news that you may have heard by now, the Devils were not one of the five teams that free agent superstar John Tavares has/will be meeting with this week. Several sources, including Arthur Staple, who covers the Islanders for The Athletic, in a tweet written on June 23, the Maple Leafs, Sharks, Stars, Bruins and Islanders were among the short list of teams that he has or will meet with. The Devils could always make an offer later on that Tavares and his agent would listen to, but most likely, New Jersey is not in on the Tavares sweepstakes.

Also, the Hockey Hall of Fame will be announcing their Class of 2018 members today at 3 PM. Martin Brodeur is in his first year of eligibility and will likely be a shoo in. We will have more information here as it becomes available today at 3 PM.