The NHL and NHLPA have ratified a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the Return to Play format has been finalized, NHL training camps begin this coming Monday, July 13th, and NHL hockey is due to return officially on August 1st. All of this activity has rekindled everyone’s interest in hockey and NHL GM’s are beginning to provide information on their teams as the beginning of training camp is right around the corner. Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois talked to the media this morning in a zoom conference call about the CBA negotiation, the Return to Play negotiation (and his opinion on the format), the Lightning’s roster situation, and some injury news.
First, the big news. BriseBois confirmed that prior to Phase 2 of the Return to Play format all of Tampa Bay’s injured players before the pause were good to go, health-wise, for hockey. However, captain Steven Stamkos suffered a lower-body injury (no clarification from BriseBois) during Phase 2 and will not be a full time participant at the start of training camp.
Steven Stamkos suffered a lower body injury during Phase 2 and won’t be a full participating on day one of training camp. When asked, Brisebois said he’s optimistic that Stamkos will be able to play when games resume, but would not place a time table on the captain’s return— Matthew Esteves (@mattestevesSBN) July 11, 2020
BriseBois said there is no definitive timetable for when Stamkos can be a full participant in camp, but they do expect him to be ready for the round robin games starting on August 3rd for the Lightning.
Additionally, with Stamkos’s injury another forward spot was available in camp and that spot was filled in by Alex Barre-Boulet. Barre-Boulet will join additional extra skaters Alex Volkov, Gemel Smith, Cal Foote, Luke Witkowski, and Mathieu Joseph. BriseBois also confirmed that Scott Wedgewood and Spencer Martin were called up for camp. The Lightning will go into camp with 18 forwards, 10 defensemen, and four goaltenders.
BriseBois does not expect a lot of issues with the roster as camp progresses, but stressed that his mentality has been to get his team and organization to focus on preparing as well as they can for the playoffs. He also added that, as of Saturday morning, he does not expect any Lightning player to opt out of the playoffs.
In regards to the Return to Play negotiation, BriseBois did not divulge much information aside from his willingness to listen to medical experts on what precautions the league and teams should take. He did state that he was excited for the new format and believes it will be exciting and entertaining to watch.
BriseBois did not go into details on how he will handle the new CBA or flat cap at this time.
The conference call ended with a question concerning the ability of the round robin games (which only matter for seeding) to be a viable substitute to the play-in games that the league’s bubble teams will go through in preparation for the postseason. BriseBois left a great line for us to chew on, “We’re going to embrace the suck and dance in the rain”.