NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2021

by | Mar 5, 2021 | News, NHL | 9 comments

Walter Gretzky, the father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at 82, the Flames replace head coach Geoff Ward with Darryl Sutter, plus recaps of Thursday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at age 82 after battling several illnesses including Parkinson’s disease. The world’s most famous hockey dad, Walter’s guidance and tutelage helped develop Wayne into the greatest player in NHL history.

Walter Gretzky passed away at age 82 (NHL.com).

For my sister and my 3 brothers, Dad was our team captain – he guided, protected, and led our family every day, every step of the way,” wrote Wayne on Twitter in announcing Walter’s passing. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Gretzky family and Walter’s friends. He will be greatly missed. A kind, friendly man who devoted considerable time to charitable causes and always had time for a fan, Walter’s passing leaves a void in the hockey world.


The Calgary Flames’ 7-3 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators was overshadowed by their firing of head coach Geoff Ward following the game. His replacement is Darryl Sutter, who coached the Flames from 2002 to 2006 and was also their general manager from 2003 to 2010. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Flames signed Sutter to a three-year contract (this season plus two more).

Flames winger Dillon Dube tallied his first career NHL hat trick while Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists. Sam Bennett was made a healthy scratch from this contest as a “coach’s decision” by Ward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward became the Flames’ interim head coach in November 2019 and was named their full-time head coach last September. The club’s inconsistency this season has threatened to derail their playoff hopes. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform under Sutter, a no-nonsense coach who guided the Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final and went on to win two Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.

The New York Islanders extended their home record to 8-0-2 by dropping the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Matt Martin scored twice and Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist. Sabres winger Taylor Hall tallied his first goal since the club’s season-opener on Jan. 14.

Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick to lead the New York Rangers over the New Jersey Devils 6-1. It was a costly win for the Rangers as goaltender Igor Shesterkin left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury. Struggling Blueshirts center Mika Zibanejad had his ice time reduced, including being bench for the first half of the second period. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced captain Nico Hischier is week-to-week with a sinus fracture after being hit in the face by the puck during Saturday’s loss to Washington.

Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov finally faced off against brother Evgeny Svechnikov in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Andrei had a goal and an assist while Evgeny picked up an assist for the Red Wings. Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player discipline for a dangerous slew foot on Wings forward Robby Fabbri.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Claude Giroux scored twice, including the game-winner. Flyers forward Joel Farabee missed the game as he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Penguin captain Sidney Crosby came off the list yesterday and picked up an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Farabee is just one of three players on the protocol list, joining Boston’s Charlie Coyle and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.

Paul Stastny scored twice and Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets nipped the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Corey Perry had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who’ve dropped six games in overtime this season and are 3-5-4 in their last 12 games. They hold a two-point over the Flames for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Scotia North Division.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Killorn. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak ended at three games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Blackhawks as they outplayed the Lightning through the first two periods and carried a 2-0 lead into the third.

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad had a career-best four-point performance (two goals, two assists) as his club held off the Nashville Predators 5-4. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov collected three helpers. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson each had a three-point game for the Predators.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

A two-goal performance by Jake Virtanen lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 upset of the league-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. Canucks center Elias Pettersson missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.


TSN: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was fined $5,000.00 by the league’s department of player discipline for spearing Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic on Wednesday.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm will be sidelined for six weeks with a fractured wrist.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks forward Joachim Blichfeld received a two-game suspension by the league for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon on Wednesday. MacKinnon’s status remains uncertain as the Avs have yet to release an update on his condition.


  1. It wasn’t hard to predict that, after losing two of 3 in Ottawa, the Flames would come out loaded for bear in that first meeting backing Calgary.

    Strange timing for the canning of the coach though. Surely they must have made up their minds BEFORE the game. I could see them doing that had the score been reversed … but not the other way around.

    Interesting that 2 of the players the Sens will reportedly move (if they can find takers) – Dzingel and Anisimov – were in the game and both scored.

    Murray sure blows hot and cold.

  2. Rangers finally in a groove and now Igor might be out for some time
    Laf looks like the pick finally too.

    Two highest players out and Kreider steps up

  3. Condolences out to the entire Gretzky Fam

    I agree with your label of him Lyle…” The world’s most famous hockey dad”

  4. The firing was not a surprise ; but the timing was

    Being fired after a win is rarer (than after a loss) but not unheard of; but being fired after a resounding win; kinda weird.

    Pens…. uh oh…. looked great I first few minutes…. I was settling in for what I thought was a drubbing…. then Flyers slowly get back into game and eventually win it

    3 gruesome defensive gaffs…. this one not on Jarry

    Fantastic goal McC

    Marino pulled a JJ night. The good news is that although he has not been up to his play of last year this season; he has seemed to bounce back strong after a stinker of a game

    Glad to see the young lad Friedman get his first against his “releasing” team. Hope he is all right

    Pens must make a move at TDL for sure. Need a 3C (Staal ideal)

    Raffl needs to be reviewed by the OPS

    Leafs… foot off the gas… couple of defensive gaffs and a couple of shoulda had saves… ‘Nucks deserved the win

    Leafs still strong (3rd in League for winning percentage)

    Was looking at the disparity in GP in league…. assuming the season total games are not shortened….Stars will need to play 38 games in 66 days while ‘Nucks need to play only 29 in that same time-frame… wow

  5. 5 different head coaches since 2014 … the problem in Calgary is Brad Treliving …

    Brutal loss for the Penguins last night … Burke & Hextall can’t be happy with the way the Flyers pushed the Pens around after falling in the hole 3-0 early in the first … outside of Brandon Tanev the Penguins don’t have another player who will throw a decent bodycheck … Pitiful

    • Cant totally agree Ed. Hartley was Feaster’s hire Treling inherited probably should have kept him.
      Gully was a mistake, Peters did well, won the division & was 2nd overall in NHL that year. He was let go for much other reasons. Ward had some success in bubble & during this Covid, giving him the green light was an easy decision. Sutter is going to be very interesting.

  6. Met Walter once in Edmonton airport had a great visit he made time for me was a prince of a man great guy.

  7. Walter seat at Leaf games was in next section over from me. He spent virtually every intermission shaking hands and taking photos with people. Always smiling never annoyed or impatient. Admirable.

    I thought he was older to be honest, I guess the stroke and parkinsons made it seem so.

  8. If there’s no rink in heaven, Walter will put one in his backyard.