Latest on Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Erik Johnson, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Ovechkin, Marek Zidlicky, Jimmy Hayes and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE:  Patrick Kane received a warm welcome from Blackhawks fans during his first public scrimmage with the club at the Compton Family Ice Center at Notre Dame. Kane is currently under investigation for an alleged sexual assault. Meanwhile, winger Bryan Bickell continues to suffer from symptoms of vertigo, but claims he has them under enough control to play this season.

Colorado Avalanche in contract talks with Erik Johnson.

Colorado Avalanche in contract talks with Erik Johnson.

NBC SPORTS: Contract negotiations between the Colorado Avalanche and defenseman Erik Johnson are reportedly going well. Johnson is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s also their best all-around defenseman, so it’s understandable why they’re engaging in contract talks now. 

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, still recovering from offseason hip surgery, isn’t sure if he’ll be able to play in the club’s season opener. He speculates he could even miss the opening ten games, but said he doesn’t know for sure.  In more lighthearted news, Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin received a sheep from a Russian news channel as a gift for this 30th birthday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: What do you give the man who has seemingly everything? A sheep, of course! Apparently, part of Ovechkin’s last name in Russian means “sheep”. Seems like a baaaaaaaaa -d joke to me…;) 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders have cut prospect Joshua Ho-Sang after he was late for their opening day of training camp. He’s been returned to Niagara of the OHL. The Islanders also signed free-agent defenseman Marek Zidlicky to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million plus bonuses.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang has considerable potential but he seems to be his own worst enemy. Zidlicky appears the obvious replacement for departed veteran blueliner Lubomir Visnovsky, and should provide a boost to the Isles power-play, which finished 16th last season

WEEI.COM: The father of Jimmy Hayes was once allegedly kidnapped by notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger and his gang over twenty years ago and lived to tell the tale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you don’t know who Bulger is, check out this documentary or the movie currently out starring Johnny Depp