By the time facial hair grew shamelessly across a closed country, one of the most famous hockey beards had disappeared.
The shark center Joe Thornton cut his beard for the first time in almost two years, the team revealed in the video, which shows before and after, with the help of his daughter, Ayla, who channeled “I Dream of Jeannie” to show amazing changes.
Thornton, 40, started growing his graybeard during the 2015-16 season when he and the defenseman of the sharks Brent Burns known for his harmonious appearance, which they call “lifestyle beard.” There was one small disturbance, when Burns shaved Thornton’s beard at the team party just before the 2018 season, but Thornton had spent every day since then regrowing it.
“I’m sorry [shaving] soon after that began to touch the floor, “Thornton told reporters in 2018.” Hopefully it will grow back quickly. “
Thornton’s son wasn’t a fan of himself who was shaved clean at the time.
“My 5-year-old son was unhappy this morning when he woke up,” Thornton said. “He doesn’t want to meet father, so I have to make up for it.”
With NHL the season stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic, Thornton has some time to start growing his beard again. He doesn’t need to worry about growing one for the playoffs, though – if there is a playoff – because Sharks are in last place in the Western Conference when the season is suspended.
As players, executives and fans continue to adjust to new norms, we will provide updates every Monday, answering all the burning questions in various angles of NHL’s relationship with the pandemic; although the action on the ice is still on the shelf, there have been major developments since then last week’s update. Caught here:
Are there updates when play can continue?
Emily Kaplan: Not really. The NHL is still aiming to hold a Stanley Cup Playoff this summer, if it gets approval from the health authorities. This will depend on where North America is on the curve, what remains at home orders are still in place and the availability of rapid turnaround testing – and whether it is ethical for private companies such as NHL to secure such large numbers of tests.
“We just started thinking about that,” Daly said. “It’s kind of a combination of things, like when we can start the regular season [in 2020-21] and how much time we need for the offseason, and then what the playoff format looks like, in terms of knowing what you need to have a regular season. We started to think about it a little. I don’t think I’m ready to share any dates. “
Daly acknowledged that the truncated playoff series – which is usually best of seven – is clearly an option if the NHL faces a time constraint. “I would say that the best is not something we will visit,” Daly said. “I always have a warning that everything is on the table and nothing is out of the question. I would say there will be strong opposition to ever making a playoff where it is a single elimination. I think the best of the three is more likely, disliked, but more likely than the best scenario. “
The NHL and NHLPA have been in constant communication during the break, and from all sides, both parties have been collaborative and the relationship seems strong, which is one of the positive things to come out of this. Daly said the NHLPA had articulated the amount of time the players needed for the “right” offseason before the 2020-21 season could begin. Do the players need four weeks? Six weeks? Two months?
“We’ve talked about it in general, and we have a good idea,” Daly said. “But I don’t want to be too specific.”
Does the goal still complete the 2019-20 regular season in some way before the playoffs begin?
Greg Wyshynski: That is the goal for the NHL and its players, as long as the calendar allows it. Mathieu Schneider, special assistant for NHLPA’s executive director, said Sirius XM NHL Network Radio “Hot Stove” that the players believe “there is a path to” completing the regular season and “there is enough optimism that we will be able to play again, in whole or in part, for the rest of the season.”
It really depends on how much time they have to prepare for the regular season and playoff games this summer. “The biggest problem for our people, in this scenario of returning to play, is that they are not on the ice,” Schneider said. “Maybe in a limited way [for] some people in Europe or Sweden, or something like that. Men can train at home, but lack of ice time is critical for our players. “
The NHLPA held its first formal (and far socially) meeting last week with the NHL leadership, including league scheduling teacher, Steve Hatze Petros. NHLPA executive director, Don Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman have been in contact with each other every day, but this meeting is an opportunity to have a greater exchange of ideas.
NHLPA wants to get a “working group” together to produce “a number of different scenarios accepted by both parties, so when everything turns around and we can return, we will be in a much better position, ready to make decisions,” Schneider said.
Are there concerns that even if fans are allowed to go to matches, attendance will be lower than usual?
Wyshynski: There are, for various reasons. The economic impact of this pandemic cannot be understood at this point, as far as how it will affect entertainment expenses such as hockey tickets. But health considerations are an actual conundrum: Even if the NHL is allowed to play with fans in the arena, how many fans choose not to be present until, say, there is a suitable treatment or vaccine for COVID-19?
For this reason, the NHL team began to consider what a game with a lower arena capacity would look like – whether their own caps were present or the social mandate from the government that could limit it.
“We have a task force that we have placed internally to discuss all of these options,” Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said in a video conference call last week. “One of them is we return without fans, and how we will deal with it. The second choice is that we go back and can only have – choose a number – five or eight thousand people in the building.” The third option is that we can be truly open. We’ve talked at length and have plans for all of those situations. “
Daly said on Friday that the Storm did not always get the idea from the NHL, but a restricted presence was considered in other sports.
“Before the closure of all sports, I think there are some college teams that are experimenting with social exclusion in the arena. I can’t tell you what the results of the experiment are,” Daly said. “I just think that only Carolina is comprehensive in understanding what options are in every possibility. We all try to do that in a world where there are many unknowns.”
Are there updates in which cities can host empty arena games?
Kaplan: Among the locations that might be reported for neutral site games, which are likely to be held in empty arenas, are Grand Forks, North Dakota; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
But Daly said the NHL hadn’t even “created a field” in determining which sites would function. In fact, as word got out that the NHL was considering neutral locations, cities and places throughout North America were beginning to reach the league, making themselves potential hosts.
“We have people who compile a comprehensive laundry list of what we will need from the facility and evaluate some facilities at a certain level,” he said. “But I can’t tell you that we’ve even finished making the list [of potential sites], let alone narrow it. “
Wyshynski: There is a reason the NHL is delaying instead of canceling its merger in Buffalo, scheduled for June 1-6. If possible, the team wants the opportunity to scrutinize prospects before making a draft decision.
“Obviously, our manager has the same concerns as the NBA manager. The more information you can or get before you make a concept day decision, the better,” Daly said. “If we can do some form of incorporation and create opportunities for clubs to conduct due diligence on the players before the draft, we will definitely try to accommodate that. If we can’t, we can’t. I think we the club understands that.”
Wyshynski: If the NHL draft has to happen with all 31 teams in remote locations, the league believes it’s ready for it.
“I think that’s pretty easy,” Daly said. “Almost like [going] back to the future, right? Our draft, long ago, was held by the telephone. If modern technology can be used to create video images, it really is no different from the choices sent via electronic media. “
(Now, if only there was a way for virtual Gary Bettman to choose the option to announce trade …)
Is there anything new about the lack of income and escrow for the players?
Wyshynski: As of Friday, the NHLPA has not yet decided what to do with the final salary due to the players for 2019-20, which is scheduled for April 15. They can choose to include part, all or nothing in escrow payments to owners for lost income this season.
But NHLPA and its owners completed and processed escrow payments for the 2018-19 season, which had been delayed. NHLPA confirmed that around $ 230 million will be released to the owners, while the players will get back about $ 80 million from their deductions. Remember: Collective bargaining agreements mandate a 50-50 split in income between the owner and the player, and the escrow deduction helps balance the split.
How does the NHL plan to stay relevant when there is no game?
Kaplan: Just as your workplace has hugged Zoom, so does the NHL. The league has become an all-in video conferencing platform.
It manages media calls with most league superstars – Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid among many others – and has pumped that content on all of its platforms, including released this ad in honor of the postponed playoff. Each team arranges Zoom calls with their local reporters, while the NHL has arranged several lighter calls (reunions between Patrick Marleau, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner), plus calls with trainers, as well as international outreach efforts. For example, the league makes calls on Swedish players speaking Swedish to Swedish journalists. On what will be the first night of the playoffs last week, the NHL organizes a virtual reunion with the whole St. Louis Blues the team, which will be aired on NBC Sports on Monday night.
The NBA, meanwhile, is holding a KUDA tournament, which was filmed at the player’s home and aired on ESPN. Several NBA stars, WNBA players, and NBA alumni registered to participate. I asked Daly how ambitious the NHL was with their alternative programming and whether they could use something similar.
“I really think we have been very active in creating all kinds of different content,” Daly said. “Our players have been very cooperative. With all respect to the NBA, I think we have pushed content that is far more original than other sports leagues at the moment, and I think it will continue.”
Are there any more players who have tested positive? Are any positive cases recovering?
Wyshynski: The last positive test confirmed by NHL was unnamed Colorado Avalanche players on April 7, the third member of the franchise contracted the corona virus. Avalanche was on a California road trip before the season was stopped; so as Ottawa Senator, other NHL teams affected by COVID-19. Five Senator players, Gord Wilson’s radio color analyst and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. But the Ottawa coach D. J. Smith said that Wednesday “They are all on the other side now.”
What if the NHL starts again and the player chooses not to return to ice because of COVID-19 concerns?
Wyshynski: This can be called “The Roman Reigns Issue.” WWE superstar recently opted out of WrestleMania and other events due to immunocompromised and because of concern for his family who contracted the virus. There are hundreds of players at the NHL; what if some of them are not interested in returning to play unless there is treatment or vaccine available?
Daly said that was not yet a topic of conversation at the NHL.
“Clear, [the players] want to be healthy and safe, “he said.” If a particular player has special attention, we have the same situation in the past, and we as a league have been sensitive and accept that situation. Obviously, if [concerns like this] becomes too broad, then it becomes more problematic in terms of our ability to return. But that will be handled up front. All indications at this point, as far as I know, are that the players really want to come back. “
If the league will lose substantial income, how will it affect the salary cap next season?
Kaplan: Let’s start with this: Before the pandemic struck, NHL was in very good condition. At the GM meeting in early March, Gary Bettman boasted – because he had the past few years – that the NHL was as strong as before, especially because he planned to welcome Seattle for the 2021-22 season as the 32nd franchise (and received Seattle’s $ 650 million expansion fee) . The league told general manager in early March that he projected the salary limit for next season to be between $ 84 million and $ 88.2 million. That means a minimum increase of 3% from the limit of $ 81.5 million this season. Obviously, that is in line with projected income, and we know the league, which is very gate dependent, was hit by the pandemic.
“Whatever our salary limit is, or set for next year, is something we must discuss and agree with the players,” Daly said on Friday. “Obviously, it looks pretty sure that there will be a significant shortage in projected income, when we can say the ’19 -20 season is done. If we adhere to the formula in the CBA, it will produce a cap that is much lower than we have this year. What I think doesn’t need to be practical or realistic, either for the club or the players. So it’s definitely something we need to talk about with the players association. “
Is the NHL concerned about some ownership groups that cannot survive this closure, and the subsequent economic impact?
Wyshynski: Daly told us that “there is definitely no indication that there is” reason for NHL to worry about the team and its team owners during the pandemic.
“I will return to the case that I know is the case: Our ownership is stronger than it has ever been in league history, financially,” he said. “The entire global economy has taken a big, powerful blow. It certainly involves some of the businesses owned by our owners, a significant loss of revenue and profitability. But we have no indication that any club is at the peak point as far as it is unable to fulfill its obligations to the League National Hockey. “
Finally, what is your latest pop culture addiction this week?
Kaplan: I have rearranged the episode of the flu epidemic “Always Bright in Philadelphia” – Season 9, Episode 7: “The Gang Will be Quarantined” – twice since I was stuck at home. It survives very well. It is available at Hulu (which is owned by Disney), for anyone who is looking for humor in the nose.
Wyshynski: I have been tearing up sports documentaries lately. After going through 30 for 30 – and if you haven’t already, they all use ESPN + – several other documents caught my attention this week. “Tough Guy: The Bob Probert Story “(Amazon Prime) is the same part as a tribute to the battle skills of a heavyweight hockey champion and a sad examination of his evil ice-demon.” Diego Maradona “(HBO) used an exceptional archival record to tell the story of a football legend; and the second season of” The Dark Side of the Ring “(VICE) still shines on the most famous figure and pro wrestling moment, starting with the intricate legacy of Chris Benoit. Give a documentary round if you are looking to improve sports.