Brad Treliving

Restrictions make NHL playoffs more likely to happen in U.S. than Canada

Signs point to the U.S. and Canada extending their bans on non-essential travel (i.e. crossing borders) to late July, according to Reuters. What does this mean for the NHL going through with the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs (and other return-to-play plans)? We’ll dig deeper, but the quick version is that the NHL is more likely to hold playoffs and training camps in the U.S. than in Canada.

A lot can change, to be clear. But things are definitely gravitating toward the United States.

Canada’s 14-day quarantine guideline makes U.S. logical spot for NHL playoffs

In the simplest terms, Canada’s 14-day quarantine guideline lingers as the key difference.

As a refresher, note that anyone entering Canada must self-isolate for those two weeks. Only afterward can you, say, play hockey.

In noting that the Flames might hold training camp in the U.S., general manager Brad Treliving explained to Sportsnet’s Eric Francis why the 14-day quarantine requirement could hamper anyone operating in Canada.

“The logistics have been worked on for a camp in the U.S., if need be,” Treliving said. “I don’t want guys coming back to Calgary and sitting on their butts for two weeks in their condos and being out of shape when it’s time to go again. It may make more sense for us to have camp in the U.S. so we can have guys together quicker and being productive. The quarantine issue is a big one.”

Francis notes that NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the 14-day quarantine would likely take Edmonton, Vancouver, and Toronto out of the mix as hub cities for the Return to Play plan. That seems especially logical considering that each location would aim to support 12 different teams with at least 50 people per team.

But, really, if you’re only going with hub cities in the U.S., it would probably make more sense to do it all south of the Canadian border, right?

Again, Treliving indicated that the Flames are looking into that. Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre reported that the Canucks were leaning in that direction as early as May.

While Phase 2 calls for scattered, small groups, training camps and the 24-team format would require much larger groupings. The timetable is small enough that setbacks could be significant to threading the needle for a return to play.

Things could change, but cultural viewpoints might not

On one hand, a lot of variables could make it tougher for the NHL’s return-to-play plan to succeed at all. On the other, it’s possible that Canada might become a more feasible option.

Such a change would boil down to Canada tweaking its quarantine policies.

Treliving floated an interesting idea about adapting quarantine. Rather than isolating players to sit on their butts in condos, what if a player could extend their “bubble” between their homes and the Saddledome?

” … The only place you’re going is a bubble – it’s with a peer group, not the public,” Treliving said. “And it’s probably the safest, cleanest, most sanitized place in the city of Calgary right now. You’re being tested on a regular basis.”

Bending the rules could be a thorny issue, though.

To an extent, an NHL return-to-play plan is already rolling the dice a bit. You’re trying to manage the risks of exposure with the rewards of handing out the Stanley Cup, and avoiding financial losses.

But, as much as the league emphasizes that it doesn’t want to take medical resources away from those who need it, we’ll need to see if that’s actually how things work out. This is unprecedented stuff, after all.

Simply put, Canada and the U.S. may just approach COVID-19 containment differently.

This isn’t just about mindset; it’s also about scale. David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer of Reuters succinctly summarized how differently COVID-19 hit the U.S. vs. Canada.

More than 110,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, one of the world’s worst-hit nations. Canada reported 7,835 deaths, and 96,244 coronavirus cases on June 9.

So, yes, it’s possible travel ban restrictions might be loosened in Canada. Maybe those bubbles will expand faster than a player’s waistline waiting around at a condo.

In the grand scheme of things, though, it sure seems like if the NHL can pull off a return-to-play plan, it will probably involve training camps and the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs operating in the U.S.

MORE 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.

Bill Peters out as Calgary Flames head coach

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Bill Peters has resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames.

“Effective immediately, Bill Peters is no longer a member of the Calgary Flames organization,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving announced Friday. Assistant Geoff Ward, who coached the team Wednesday night in Buffalo, has been named interim head coach.

The news comes days after former players came forward with accusations of racial slurs and physical abuse against Peters.

Akim Aliu played for Peters with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs in 2008-09 and 2009-10. On Twitter Monday night Aliu, who spent last season with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, alleged that the head coach used a racial slur “several times” because he did not like the choice of music being played in the dressing room.

Speaking to TSN’s Frank Seravalli on Tuesday, Aliu expanded on his Tweets:

“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n—– s—.’ He said ‘I’m sick of hearing this n—–s f—— other n—–s in the ass stuff.’

“He then walked out like nothing ever happened. You could hear a pin drop in the room, everything went dead silent. I just sat down in my stall, didn’t say a word.”

The allegations were independently corroborated by Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, two of Aliu’s teammates with the Ice Hogs.

Aliu said that when he was called into Peters’ office later, there was no apology and the head coach continued to express his displeasure with the music. Weeks later, Aliu, who told TSN he did not tell the Blackhawks organization about what Peters had said, was sent down to the ECHL after the two had a confrontation during practice.

“The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously,” the Blackhawks said in a statement on Tuesday. “The purported incident had not been reported or brought to our attention prior to yesterday and had no effect on any player personnel decision regarding Mr. Aliu.”

[RELATED: Flames’ GM discusses Peters’ resignation, due diligence on hiring]

More allegations against Peters surfaced following Aliu’s speaking out.

Michal Jordan, who played under Peters with the Hurricanes for parts of two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16, Tweeted, “Never wish anything bad to the person but you get what you deserve Bill. After years making it to the NHL had experience with the worst coach ever by far. Kicking me and punching other player to the head during the game.”

When asked about the accusation Wednesday morning, Rod Brind’Amour, who was an assistant coach with the team from 2011-2018, confirmed the allegations. “It definitely happened,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Sean McMorrow played for Peters in 2008-09 with the Ice Hogs Tweeted, “Worst human being to ever coach me … treated me terrible on a AHL team (IceHogs) where I won a League Award for Community Service. #badguy.”

“We knew nothing of any nature of what we’ve been dealing with the last couple of days,” Treliving said.

Peters issued a statement on Wednesday night apologizing to Treliving and the organization “for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago.” None of the players who brought allegations forward were named in the letter.

Aliu responded on Twitter with a statement reading, “I have read the statement of Bill Peters, which I found to be misleading, insincere and concerning. I have accepted an invitation from the NHL to meet and discuss this situation. Out of respect for that process I will not respond publicly to the statement or discuss the racism and discrimination that I have endured until after my meeting.”

The Flames hired Peters in April 2018 after he spent four seasons with the Hurricanes. He led Calgary to a division title in 2018-19 and the second-most points in franchise history. The team is currently off to a 12-12-4 start and out of the Western Conference playoff picture.

MORE: Karmanos criticizes how Francis handled allegations against Peters

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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.

Bill Peters’ statement offers ‘sincere apology’ to Flames, ‘anyone negatively affected’

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Bill Peters released a statement in the form of a letter to Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving on Wednesday regarding Akim Aliu’s claims that Peters made racist remarks toward Aliu during Peters’ and Aliu’s time with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

Sportsnet’s Eric Francis and TSN’s Bob McKenzie ranked among those who received Peters’ letter/statement, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Here’s a full transcription of Peters’ letter to Treliving and the Flames, which also included Peters’ signature:

Brad:

Please accept this as a sincere apology to you, and the entire Calgary Flames organization, for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago. I know that my comments have been a source of both anger and disappointment, and I understand why. Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said.

The statement was made in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values. After the incident, I was rightfully challenged about my use of language, and I immediately returned to the dressing room to apologize to the team. I have regretted the incident since it happened, and I now also apologize to anyone negatively affected by my words.

I am aware that there is no excuse for language that is offense. I meant no disrespect for what I said, and it was not directed at anyone in particular. But that doesn’t matter; it was hurtful and demeaning. I am truly sorry.

I accept the reality of my actions. I do believe that we must strive to act with integrity, and to take accountability for what we say and do. This letter is intended to do exactly that; I hope it is is accepted as intended.

I appreciate the thorough review of this situation being undertaken by the Flames. It’s the right thing to do, and I support it fully.

Sincerely,

Bill Peters

There is a lot to take away from that statement/letter.

  • The first party receiving an apology is “you [Treliving] and the entire Flames organization.”
  • Akim Aliu is not mentioned by name. The closest you could say is a blanket apology to “anyone negatively affected by my [Peters’] words.”
  • Peters claims his “offensive language” was “not directed at anyone in particular.”
  • Peters also states that, when called out for his “use of language,” he immediately returned to the Rockford IceHogs’ dressing room to “apologize to the team.”
  • There’s no mention of Peters’ time with the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Hurricanes player Michal Jordan accused Peters of kicking and punching players during games, claims that current Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour corroborated as “for sure happened” on Wednesday.

Here’s part of Aliu’s comments on Twitter, which Aliu then expanded upon to TSN’s Frank Servalli.

Again, Peters addressed the incident, but didn’t mention Aliu by name, and also claimed that the comments weren’t directed “at anyone in particular.”

This process still appears to be ongoing, as the Flames and/or NHL continue to investigate claims. As Eric Macramalla details for Forbes, a possible firing situation would become more complicated if Calgary is hoping to fire Peters with just cause, with millions possibly on the line. It’s unclear if those factors played into how Peters’ statement was worded.

Peters was not on the Flames’ bench during the team’s 3-2 overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

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.

Peters will not coach Flames vs. Sabres Wednesday

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The situation surrounding Bill Peters and Calgary Flames is getting worse by the minute.

Flames general manager Brad Treliving provided the following update after Peters was not on the ice during the team’s practice Tuesday afternoon.

“Our review into the allegations from last evening continues. This is a very serious matter and we want to be thorough in our review.

Bill Peters will not be behind the bench for the Flames game tomorrow night in Buffalo. Associate coach Geoff Ward will handle head coaching duties.

We will have no further comment until our review is complete.”

The situation began when Akim Aliu, a 2007 second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, said on social media that Bill Peters voiced racial slurs in his direction during the 2009-10 season with the Rockford IceHogs.

TSN spoke with Aliu and documented his ordeal with confirmation from two of his teammates.

The situation continued to get worse for Peters when Michal Jordan, a defenseman who played for Peters with the Carolina Hurricanes, mentioned a different incident involving the coach on Twitter.

The NHL released the following statement and has also launched its own investigation.

“The behavior that has been alleged is repugnant and unacceptable,” the NHL said. “We will have no further comment until we have had an opportunity to look into the matter more thoroughly.”

This scenario can only end with one outcome and it is just a matter of time before Calgary cuts ties completely with Peters.

[RELATED: NHL investigates allegations Flames coach used racial slurs]

The Buzzer: Ducks spoil Islanders’ streak; Stars keep shining

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Islanders’ streak over at 17 games

Perhaps it’s fitting that the Islanders’ 17-game point streak ended against one of the few teams that boasts goaltending comparable to the Isles’ own, especially when John Gibson is in net. The Ducks gave the Islanders their first regulation loss since Oct. 11, blanking Barry Trotz’s bunch 3-0 on Monday.

That wasn’t the only “your own medicine” element of this loss for the Islanders, either. The Ducks allowed quite a few more chances, but did a decent job of controlling the quality while losing the quantity battle. Gibson ultimately only needed 26 saves for that shutout, while Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler led the way with a goal and an assist each. Anders Lee has been great during this run, but Monday wasn’t his night, as he was on the ice for all three of the Ducks’ goals.

Three Stars

1. Alexander Radulov, Dallas Stars

The Stars have been almost as hot as the Islanders lately, and while Radulov (2G, 1A) and John Klingberg (3A) have been relatively quiet during Dallas’ tear, they made the big difference against the troubled-but-still-dangerous Golden Knights on Monday.

The Stars are now on a seven-game winning streak, have gone 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, are now 14-1-1 in their last 16 games after beginning the season on a 1-7-1 whimper.

Radulov bookended that win against Vegas with two power-play goals, and also assisted on Jason Dickinson‘s game-winner. It wasn’t as if the Stars’ usual top guns were totally absent (Tyler Seguin collected two assists), yet this win serves as a sobering reminder to opponents that Dallas can beat you in more ways than even the 2018-19 Stars could.

2. Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning

The Sabres managed a 2-1 lead at some point, and it seemed like Buffalo and the Bolts would have themselves a tightly matched game. The third period kind of ended that, as the Lightning strengthened what became a 3-2 lead with two shorthanded goals. The second was scored by Palat, who ended Monday with two primary assists and the 5-2 shorthanded tally.

Palat’s now on a nice little mini-hot streak, generating points in three consecutive games (two goals, three assists for five of his 15 points this season).

The Lightning are now on a three-game winning streak and seem to have found their legs with a 7-3-0 mark in their last 10 games.

3. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

Is it Artemi, as I’ve been accustomed to spelling it (and the Rangers’ website spells it that way), or Artemiy Panarin, as it seems to be on the star player’s Twitter page?

I feel about as confounded as most defenders do against the absolutely slick winger, who collected assists on all three of the Rangers’ goals in a 3-2 OT win against the Wild. Seeing Mats Zuccarello‘s tribute video was probably super emotional for many Rangers, but not Panarin, who was one of actually quite a few new guys who never shared a Rangers locker room with the Norwegian wizard.

Panarin now has 30 points through his first 22 games with the Rangers, including five (1G, 4A) during his past two.

Highlights

I’m partial to this fantastic move by Ryan Donato against the Rangers, although Donato’s Wild ultimately fell short:

Factoids

Scores

TBL 5 – BUF 2
NYR 3 – MIN 2 (OT)
PHI 2 – VAN 1
PIT 3 – CGY 2 (OT)
CBJ 1 – OTT 0
NSH 3 – STL 2 (SO)
DAL 4 – VGK 2
ANA 3 – NYI 0
SJS 4 – ANA 3 (OT)

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.