NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 29, 2018
Game recaps, Stars CEO rips Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, Dustin Byfuglien, and David Backes fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists and John Tavares scored twice to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s the Leafs fifth consecutive victory.
The New York Islanders tallied five unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Ottawa Senators 6-3. Mathew Barzal scored two of those tallies and collected an assist on Josh Bailey’s goal in the first period. The Isles overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits against the Senators, who lost high-scoring defenseman Thomas Chabot in the second period with an upper-body injury following a high hit from Isles winger Matt Martin. Chabot joins goaltender Craig Anderson and defenseman Justin Falk on the sidelines this weekend.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was a good example of how much the Senators miss Anderson between the pipes. No word if Martin will face supplemental discipline for the hit on Chabot.
Three third-period goals by Tomas Tatar, Artturi Lehkonen, and Jonathan Drouin gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers. Backup Antti Niemi made 23 saves filling in for the sidelined Carey Price, who’s currently listed as day-to-day with what coach Claude Julien called an “irritation” that’s plagued the former Vezina Trophy winner for several weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Would that be irritation from his knee injury of 2015-16 or irritation from last season’s groin injury, Claude? Or is it something new? Whatever it is, Habs fans will be hoping Price makes a swift recovery.
THE ATHLETIC: Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites had some choice words regarding the play of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, who said team owner Tom Gaglardi isn’t pleased with the performance of the club’s two best players. “He’s pissed,” Lites said on Friday afternoon. “And you know what it’s about.”
Referring to the pair’s performance during the Stars’ 2-0 win on Thursday over the Nashville Predators, Lites didn’t mince words. “They are fucking horse-shit, I don’t know how else to put it,” Lites said. “The team was ok. But (Tyler) Seguin and (Jamie) Benn were terrible.”
“We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done,” Lites said. “It’s embarrassing, and no one writes it. Write it!”
Lites went on to criticize Benn and Seguin over what he considers their lack of accountability and decline of their performance since inking lucrative long-term contracts. Benn has the third-highest salary ($13 million) among NHL players this season, while Seguin’s new eight-year, $78.8-million contract kicks in next season.
“I don’t give a fuck. I’m a year-to-year guy and I’ll be damned if a guy who has been as good to me as Tom Gaglardi — as good to this franchise — isn’t getting results, and those players aren’t getting it done. I’m telling you, we are gonna run through a GM who does everything he can to make the team better because we aren’t getting results.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I may be allowed my own expletive-laden reaction, it would be, “What the fucking fuck was that shit?” I mean, there’s calling out your best players and then there’s throwing them under the bus. Indeed, Lites didn’t just throw Benn and Seguin under the bus, he personally drove that bus over them, backed up, and drove over them again for good measure.
All of this is the result of growing frustration within the organization over the club’s sub-par performance this season. They were expected to not just contend for a playoff berth but also challenge for top spot in the Western Conference. Instead, they’re barely clinging to the final wild-card spot in the Conference.
As you can imagine, Lites’ rant caused jaws to collectively hit the floor among observers around the league. I’ll have more on what this might mean for the Stars going forward later today in the Rumor section.
TSN: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was fined $2,500.00 for slashing Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau late in the third period of the Jets 4-1 loss to the Flames on Thursday.
NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins forward David Backes received a three-game suspension for a high hit on New Jersey Devils forward Blake Coleman on Thursday. Speaking of the Bruins, defenseman Charlie McAvoy is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury while winger Brad Marchand (upper body) will miss tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson is listed as day-to-day following an upper-body injury suffered during Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen is day-to-day with an upper-body injury after crashing into the boards during Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Alex Chiasson is on injured reserve.
SPORTSNET: Oilers forward Valentin Zykov and Ducks defenseman Jake Dotchin were placed on waivers yesterday.