Seguin insists he’s “one million percent healthy” despite injury rumors

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Tyler Seguin denied rumors that he cut his time in the Swiss league short because of a hip injury, insisting to CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty that he’s 100 percent.

Actually, he’s apparently way beyond 100 percent, telling Haggerty that he’s actually “one million percent healthy.”

It really brings into question every other athlete health update. What does “80 percent” really mean, then? Also, when a coach claims his team needs to give 110 percent, is he setting the bar too low?

Seguin’s update brings up a lot of tough questions, but most importantly, he claims that the talks about his health concerns are unfounded.

“I have no idea where that came from,” Seguin said. “I told [HC Biel] I was leaving with no injury reason.”

Haggerty does explain why that rumor about the 20-year-old Boston Bruins forward might have started anyway:

There was a report out of ESPNBoston.com last year that Seguin had a genetic predisposition to hip issues later in his career, but the Bruins didn’t appear too concerned about that before inking him to a six-year contract extension in September.

One might counter that the Bruins rolled the dice with Marc Savard’s contract extension after he suffered from concussion issues, yet the ultimate takeaway is that Seguin should be fine to play if the season begins in about a month.

In fact, he might just be “one million percent.”

League clears up 2020 NHL Playoffs picture, including re-seeding

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The NHL and NHLPA agreed to some key details to how the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will operate … assuming the playoffs can happen. We now know how the league will handle the Round Robin for Seeding, Qualifying Round, all the way to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Before we go round by round, note that the biggest takeaways are that the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs will involve re-seeding (not bracketing) and that every round will include a best-of-seven series after the Qualifying Round/Round Robin for Seeding.

In other words, if this all comes to pass, prepare for a lot of hockey.

How the NHL Playoffs will work through 2020 Stanley Cup Final

Let’s review what we know so far.

Qualifying Round; Round Robin for Seeding

  • As announced earlier, each Qualifying Round (four per conference) series will go by a best-of-five format. Read more about that format here.
  • Johnston reports that the Round Robin for Seeding will involve three games each per team. Points percentage will serve as a tiebreaker if needed during the Round Robin for Seeding.

It was first believed that teams who won Qualifying Round series would face specific opponents based on bracketing. Instead, re-seeding means that the highest seeds will face the lowest seeds all the way down to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Here’s how “home ice” will work out, via the NHL:

* In the Qualifying Round, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2 and 5. The lower-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 3 and 4.

2020 NHL Playoffs: First Round through the 2020 Stanley Cup Final

To reiterate, following the Qualifying Round (best-of-five) and Round Robin for Seeding (three games apiece), each series will be a best-of-seven, with re-seeding. It might be easier to see how it flows this way, then:

  • Qualifying Round (best-of-five series, four series per conference); Round Robin for Seeding (three games apiece, top four teams in each conference involved). Re-seeding instead of bracketing.
  • First Round (best-of-seven series, four series per conference). Teams re-seed after First Round.
  • Second Round (best-of-seven series, two series per conference). Teams re-seed after Second Round.
  • 2020 Eastern Conference Final (best-of-seven series) and 2020 Western Conference Final (best-of-seven series).

Via the NHL, here’s how “home-ice” will play out before the 2020 Stanley Cup Final:

* In the First Round, Second Round and Conference Finals, the higher-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The lower-seeded team will be designated as the home team in Games 3, 4 and 6.

  • 2020 Stanley Cup Final (best-of-seven series).

Finally, the league shared this “home-ice” info for the 2020 Stanley Cup Final:

* In the Stanley Cup Final, the team with the higher regular season points percentage will be designated as the home team in Games 1, 2, 5 and 7. The team with the lower regular season points percentage will be designated as the home team in Games 3, 4 and 6

NHL, NHLPA opt for more hockey approach

Before Thursday, some expected that the First Round, and possibly the Second Round, might instead be best-of-five series. Instead, the NHL and NHLPA opted to go longer.

Johnston captures the risk part of that risk-reward scenario quite well, noting that two extra best-of-seven rounds could add nine days to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that the playoff tournament could last as long as 68 days. That requires some big gambles that COVID-19 cases won’t spike to the point that the NHL needs to go on “pause” once more.

If it all works out, then the “integrity” of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is definitely emphasized. (Also, more best-of-seven series definitely strengthens the “toughest ever” arguments.) Few can credibly say they’ve been robbed of a real chance, given that 24 teams are involved.

We’ll have to wait and see if it’s all worth it, and if the NHL can actually pull this off. Personally, re-seeding seems fair if it doesn’t lead to additional travel, while the bevy best-of-seven series seems dicey.

Naturally, the NHL and NHLPA still need to hash out other details.

MORE ON NHL RETURN TO PLAY:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Alabama-Huntsville coach steps down one week after program is saved

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A week after a $500,000 fundraising goal was met to save the program, Alabama-Huntsville hockey coach Mike Corbett has resigned.

The announcement was made on Wednesday, with assistant coach Gavin Morgan joining Corbett in leaving the program. Assistant Lance West will take on the role of acting head coach.

“I want to thank all of you for your support and supporting the players during this time,” Corbett wrote in an email to supporters obtained by WZDX. “It meant a lot to me and them. I wish things were different and the results were better, I truly do. I own that. I will not make excuses and I will tell you I came to work everyday and put everything I had into it. Not always making the right decisions, but doing what I thought was right for the program every day. Myself and my staff embraced it and fought the good fight every day. Only we know how that was and it was difficult but continued to put the program and the players first.”

The Chargers were 2-26-6 this past season, the seventh with Corbett in charge.

According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, Corbett faced plenty of obstacles at the school.

According to insiders, Corbett wanted to leave on his own terms. The coach had led the Chargers for seven seasons and dealt with a lot of challenges, from a lack of recruiting money to the loss of a conference when seven WCHA schools announced they would be leaving Alabama-Huntsville and the two Alaska schools behind to form a new CCHA in 2021-22.

On May 22 UAH announced it was cutting its hockey and tennis programs, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters and alumni, including Flames goalie Cam Talbot, backed a fundraising campaign that saw the goal reached before Friday’s deadline. The school then approved a $1.5 million budget for next season.

There is no guarantee beyond 2020-21 that the program will keep playing, but there is now time to create a sustainable, long-term plan.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

PHT Morning Skate: Golden Knights’ empire; Senators’ youth to lead the way

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Playing games in arenas with no fans could lead to TV networks getting creative covering the NHL’s Return to Play games. [Edmonton Journal]

• On NHL GMs and their reactions to the league’s Return to Play format. [Toronto Star]

• With the announcement of an AHL team coming to Henderson, Nevada, the Golden Knights are building an empire out west. [The Hockey News]

• It’s looking like the Palm Springs AHL team will be called the Firebirds. [SportsLogos.net]

• The Senators’ youth will need to lead the franchise’s revival. [Ottawa Citizen]

• How LTIR can play a role in aiding the Canucks. [Canucks Army]

• On the lessons the Sharks can learn from the last time they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. [NBC Sports Bay Area]

• What a full season in the AHL could do for Habs’ youngster Ryan Poehling. [A Winning Habit]

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Ducks GM Murray ‘hell-bent’ on improvement; critiques Eakins

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — General manager Bob Murray saw signs of progress this season from his young Anaheim Ducks and their first-year coach, Dallas Eakins.

Murray just didn’t see that progress happening quickly enough, so he intends to speed it up himself next season.

“Overall, certain things are going to change, and I’m going to be pushing very hard here,” Murray said Wednesday. “The inconsistencies cannot be allowed to happen the way they were.”

In his first extensive public comments on Anaheim’s truncated season, Murray evaluated the Ducks’ first two-year playoff drought of his tenure with his characteristic bluntness. After finishing sixth in the Pacific Division at 29-33-9, the Ducks are among seven franchises that won’t be involved in the NHL’s 24-team resumption of the season.

Murray gave a mixed review of Eakins’ debut, but he directed his harshest critiques at inconsistent effort from unnamed younger players.

“I think everybody talking about the young guys and this and that, it just let players just at times say, ‘Ah well, it’s just a rebuilding year, and it doesn’t matter,’” Murray said. “Up and down the lineup, some of the kids were allowed to get away with murder this year, and that’s over. They’re going to be held (accountable). Accountability in this group is going to change, and I’ve said that a couple of times, but I’m hell-bent on that happening going forward, and the coaches are going to hear that loud and clear.”

Murray had major concerns about the Ducks’ internal accountability last season when he fired Randy Carlyle and installed himself as head coach for the final 26 games of the season.

Murray hoped his players would respond to a fresh start when Eakins replaced him behind the bench last fall, but he didn’t like much of what he saw from afar.

“Because of the year before and what happened at the end, I kind of backed off and gave everybody space,” Murray said of his mindset for this season. “I didn’t feel I could be around as much. I had to let Dallas and the crew (work). … In hindsight, that was a mistake. I’ll point to that (as) just an error in judgment. My people argue with me on that, ‘No, it wasn’t a mistake.’ But now I think I should have (been more involved), and that won’t happen again.”

Murray’s vow to be more hands-on next season could be perceived as a problem for Eakins, the former Oilers coach. Eakins was promoted to Anaheim last summer from the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego only after a 2 1/2-month coaching search that suggested Murray wasn’t exactly sold on the obvious choice.

But Murray’s overall assessment of Eakins was largely positive, saying he sees room for the coach to grow along with his players. Murray also thinks Eakins had a good reason for not being hard enough on some young Ducks.

“I thought he was very organized, very well-prepared,” Murray said. “I thought the communication was good early. It got off-track a little bit. I think he had to get rid of some of the things that came from Edmonton, and I think those are gone now. He was very, very hard on some young people in Edmonton, and it kind of backfired on him there. I’m not saying it was all his fault, by the way. … I think he took the foot off the gas a bit with them. I just know he’s going to be much more consistent and on point with things, with everybody next year.”

Murray also lamented his own inability to acquire quality replacements when a few core players went down with injuries during the season. Anaheim was forced to rely far too heavily on youngsters who weren’t ready for a prominent NHL workload, or on recent acquisitions who weren’t prepared to play the Ducks’ style.

Murray made progress on those depth problems this week by signing Kodie Curran, a 30-year-old Canadian defenseman who won the Swedish Hockey League’s MVP award this year.

“I think next year, it’s going to take a lot of defensemen to get through the year,” Murray said. “Obviously, Kodie Curran, he’s a late-bloomer. We’ve known about him for years, and his improvement in the last couple of years, we’re quite excited about that. I expect some really good competition on defense this year, and we should be deep enough.”

Murray has another huge shot this summer to add much more than mere depth: The Ducks are likely to have a top-five draft pick for the first time since 2005, when then-GM Brian Burke and Murray drafted Bobby Ryan.

“We’re quite anxious for it,” Murray said. “I hope we don’t drop down any … but you could win (the lottery). We’re going to get a good player this year, and we have three picks in the top 36 as of right now. I’m looking forward to this year’s draft, and we’ll add to our young depth that has started to grow here.”