The announcement made by Toronto mayor John Tory on Tuesday that all events in the city would be canceled through June 30 appeared to be another sign that if the NHL resumed play and held the Stanley Cup Playoffs, that would likely occur in the latter portion of the summer, but a further update later in the day clarified that the event cancellation did not pertain to the city’s professional clubs; the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
According to hockey insider John Shannon, the reason that the ban on public events does not pertain to professional clubs is because Scotiabank Arena is owned by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and is considered a private facility. The same should pertain to the Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre, which is owned by Rogers Communications.
What this could mean is if the NHL plans to have a postseason of either 16 teams or an expanded playoff of 20-to-24 clubs, that games in Toronto and other cities might be held at Scotiabank Arena and other venues in front of no fans. There are no certainties based on how the spread of COVID-19 escalates going forward, but teams being told last week (after the announcement of the Olympics being postponed) to find out about building availability into August is an indicator that the NHL is preparing themselves for a short or long wait.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Leafs and Arizona Coyotes are the frontrunners for KHL forward Alexander Barabanov. The 25-year-old winger has begun the interview process with NHL clubs and Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is expected to speak to Barabanov and agent Daniel Milstein later this week.
If the Leafs are successful in signing the smallish speedy winger, it would give Dubas a potential replacement for a higher-priced forward like Andreas Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen at an entry-level salary of $925,000 per season if Toronto needs to open up cap space to upgrade in other areas.
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