NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2021

by | Jun 11, 2021 | News, NHL | 57 comments

The Golden Knights advance to the semifinals, the Hart Trophy finalists are revealed, the Blue Jackets hire a new head coach and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights are heading to the semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs after eliminating the Colorado Avalanche with a 6-3 victory in Game 6 of their second-round series. Alex Pietrangelo snapped a 3-3 tie late in the second period with what proved to be the winning goal, with William Carrier and Max Pacioretty putting the game away in the third period. Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar missed practice due to an irregularity in his COVID-19 test result but was cleared to be behind the bench for Game 6.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex PIetrangelo (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ depth made the difference as they overcame a 2-0 series deficit with four straight victories. They were built for the heavy going of playoff action and it showed as this series progressed. The speedy Avs were outstanding during the regular season and made short work of the struggling St. Louis Blues but they couldn’t match the Golden Knights’ grinding physical style.

The Stanley Cup Semifinals schedule indicates the Golden Knights will face the Montreal Canadiens beginning Monday, June 14 in Las Vegas. The Tampa Bay Lightning will square off against the New York Islanders on Sunday, June 13 in Tampa Bay.

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are this year’s finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

THE ATHLETIC: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton had some choice words for the Tampa Bay Lightning in his end-of-season press conference on Thursday. “We lost to a team that was $18 million over the cap or whatever they are,” he said. Hamilton’s Hurricanes were eliminated by the Lightning from the second round in five games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton wasn’t far off in that assessment as Cap Friendly shows the Lightning used $17.3 million in long-term injury reserve this season, in part because top-line right winger Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million) missed the entire regular season recovering from hip surgery. That gave Bolts management sufficient cap relief to maintain their roster, including the addition of defenseman David Savard at the trade deadline.

Critics accused the Lightning of gaming the system but what they did is allowable under the collective bargaining agreement. As long as a team can prove to the league that a player cannot play during the regular season for medical reasons, they’re allowed to keep them on LTIR until the playoffs, when the cap no longer applies. That rule is applicable for all NHL teams.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets announced Brad Larsen has been named their new head coach. He spent the past seven years with the club as an assistant coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting move by the Jackets in promoting from within rather than looking outside their organization for a new bench boss. His familiarity with the players and the team could make for a smooth transition as the Jackets prepare for what could be a roster rebuild after several notable players departed via trades and free agency in recent years.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames hired Kirk Muller as an associate coach. Muller held the same title with the Montreal Canadiens until relieved of his duties in February.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith underwent core-muscle surgery on Thursday. His recovery time is expected to be six to eight weeks

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has denied allegations he sexually assaulted a woman in 2017.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed forward Devin Shore to a two-year contract extension on Wednesday worth $1.7 million. The annual average value is $850K. On Thursday, forward Gaetan Haas signed a five-year deal with EHC Biel in Switzerland. He spent the past two seasons with the Oilers.


  1. I understand that what the Lightning are doing with the Cap is absolutely allowed.

    What I don’t understand is why the cap overage in the playoffs is allowed in the first place. I can’t think of a single reason why that would be. In fact, I can’t even imagine why it came up during the CBA discussions. In the CBA agenda I came up with in my head, it wasn’t even a topic. “we have a cap, the cap stays in place throughout the entire season”.

    Who says ‘no’ to that? What possible counter-argument is there? Whatever it was, it worked.

    Can anybody shed light on the reasoning?

    • Contracts apply only during the regular season because it’s the only schedule that’s assured (pandemics notwithstanding). Salaries and bonuses are determined on an 82-game schedule. They cannot be assured in a playoff schedule where the number of games played varies by team. That would create an accounting nightmare.

      • Thanks for the clarification, Lyle.

        Still, since everything is based on the 82-game schedule, then why not just use that ‘daily average’ salary as the baseline in the playoffs? It doesn’t sound like that much of an accounting nightmare.

        Player A makes X $ per game (over the 82 game season)
        Player B makes Y $ per game
        …and so on…
        In the playoffs the maximum a team can have on the ice per game is Z $

        It seems odd to me that there is a hard cap the full season, and then it gets tossed aside entirely once the playoffs start. Surely there’s some sort of middle ground somewhere.

        I’ve got to think this will be fixed in the next CBA, 30 other teams have to be ticked off. (and I don’t immediately see where the NHLPA would care either way)

      • This site explains it in detail … I also like his solutions to the GM machinations, coupled with the warning that Bruins influential owner Jacobs could be pushing for changes. As he says – forget the calculations – just make the cap mandatory in the playoffs AND don’t allow a player who sits out for the entire season (like Kucherov) be eligible for the playoffs. THAT would stop the screwing around dead in its tracks


      • First of all, the Lightning have to provide medical certification that Kucherov couldn’t return until the playoffs. It’s not like they just decided to put him on LTIR and the league took them at face value. That certification must pass muster with the league’s medical people. Second, declaring that a player who missed the entire regular season due to injury cannot play in the postseason will never fly with the NHLPA. Third, every team wants to have that LTIR loophole in their CBA because of the flexibility it affords them. Someone like Jacobs might grumble about it when another team uses it but he won’t have any issue with his own club going that route if, say, Brad Marchand was sidelined for the season but ready to return for the playoffs.

      • Excellent Link, George, thanks.

        Yes, many issues with ‘legal’ cap circumvention. And most of those rules probably started out with the best of intentions.

        the commenter to that article said it best:

        “Truth is, anywhere you set rules, people will seek to stretch & twist them to their advantage”

      • Exactly, and most of them are prepared to live with them. So no, there won’t be any significant changes to LTIR in the next round of CBA talks. After all, the two sides had plenty of opportunities to address that issue in 2012 and when they were hammering out the current extension last year. Nobody touched it because everyone sees the flexibility it gives them.

      • I think what didn’t pass the “smell test” in Kucherov’s case is that his recovery coincided exactly with the start of the playoffs. Not recovered enough to get into some late season games to “tune up” – but exactly for the start of the playoffs. Right.

      • Too bad there is a cap in the first place. It helped the hawks from not building a dynasty, I bet the burins could of had a longer run, TB is next to be denied a chance of building a dynasty thanks to this cap that only helps small market teams, which in itself is a great idea, but once a team approaches or achieves greatness, more often than not that team gets taken apart part by part to be cap compliant.

        If anyone here has issues of watering down the sport, it’s the cap and team dynasties are a pipe dreams in this hard cap league.

        I still wished they implemented a cap where the cap hit of your drafted players could only be 75% towards the cap hit but FAs are 100%. I don think think it makes sense to penalize a team that draft well. For example, most of us would agree that TB has a lot of depth and great depth in their lineup. What many don’t know a lot of their great players were drafted after the 2nd and 3rd rounds. The bolts are responsible for these players and are they just supposed to dump them? Stupid right?

  2. Captain Kirk was/is beloved in Montreal despite the fact that he couldn’t get the power play going for several years.

    One wonders why considering he has had success coaching the power play in international play.

    It isn’t lack of talent as it has been much better since the change.
    Maybe the players tuned him out?

    Here’s wishing him much success in Calgary.

  3. Simply apply the cap in the playoffs.

    No monies need to be applied it’s artificial.

    Players can still be fined in the playoffs with no income coming in.

    This seems like a very easy fix and it needs to happen.

    No different then teams buying contracts of injured players.

    Loop holes need to be closed off.

    • Except this one won’t, Caper, and I’ve explained why. Every team benefits from the flexibility they get from LTIR. Few, if any, want that loophole closed. And there’s not “simply” in applying the cap to the playoffs. They keep it fixed to an 82-game schedule because it’s the easiest way. The owners wanted it that way. They’re not changing it.

      • The thing people overlook in the TB example is that the Lightning played the regular season without Kucherov. The 56 game schedule played a part as well – he’d have been back with 26 games to play in an 82 game season.
        LTIR is here to stay and the only question is – did Tampa Bay provide accurate medical updates on Kucherov’s condition?
        We have to assume they did.

      • The Lightning had to provide accurate medical updates that meet the LTIR requirement under the CBA.

      • Then, in essence, the whole process is a farce. At least they should own up to that.

      • Own up for what, George? What “farce” are you referring to? What inside knowledge do you have that the Lightning engaged in some form of trickery where they had an advantage over the league that no other team enjoys? In what way did they hoodwink the league? As BCLeafFan pointed out, had this season been a normal 82-game schedule, Kucherov would’ve been in the lineup well before the start of the playoffs.

        Something else folks seem to overlook is the league and the team must address the player’s condition in these cases very carefully. If a player is forced to return before he’s fully recovered and is reinjured, the team and/or the league could be liable. You can bet the NHLPA would raise holy hell over that.

      • I don’t profess to have any “inside” knowledge on what goes on in the NHL – nor, I would guess. does anyone else in here who, nevertheless, daily post their “opinions” on a multitude of aspects of the game and individuals and team direction with no rebuttal from you suggesting they don’t know what they’re talking about.

        As for the Lightning what we see is the league and club, out of concern for the player’s health, decided that on or shortly before they played their last seasonal game on May 10, Kucherov’s health will still enough of a concern to keep him out of action – but 6 days later he was 100% and good to go. If they were being ultra careful what would have happened had he been re-injured in game 1?

        And what inside knowledge do you and BCLeaffan have to know that he would have been activated with 26 games to go in a normal schedule? And, as a consequence, open up a cap can of worms?

        Nuts to this.

      • Kucherov’s return to action was based on the time frame of recovery from his hip surgery on Dec. 29. Those recovery dates aren’t set in stone and can fluctuate depending on the healing process.

        For example, the Stars’ Tyler Seguin also had hip surgery on Nov. 9. His time frame to return was five months from the date of his surgery but he didn’t return to action until May 3, nearly a month after the original projected date of his return.

      • LOL Leave common sense at the door and god help you if you call someone out!

        There has been injuries that have healed sooner than stated too… were the teams/players in those cases lying too?

        Maybe there is some teams out there and like much the NHLPA, is protecting their players by not rushing players back to play…

        That time line is honestly up to the player no matter how it looks to us outsiders. I don’t see how anyone but the player be able to dictate when they can play. And I believe as witnessed, his playoff performance being an elite player, his performance is unexpected by some but should it be by one of the best players in the league, not a very good one? And if the season did go an 82 game something would have to give because it’s clear by his playoff performance that there is enough evidence of leading to this conclusion and so, maybe some of those trades wouldn’t of happened and other ones would have to be? That’s the beauty of the long game plan, right? Avoid the shortsightedness that would hinder most people who refuse to see a solution. Gotta say if you were 1 of 32 people in the world that can do your job, you’re in a league of your own. Our debates are fun but seriously, these guys forgot more about the game than any of us know.

  4. Very very exciting game last night… now down to 4

    Although favoured (some might say “quite” favoured)…. Knights and Bolts can, under no circumstances, take Habs and Isles for granted

    Hart…. If the PHWA votes per the wording of this award…. “most valuable to HIS team”…. to me , I’d go….. Mac K

    Mac K, IMVHO, under that definition; deserves the Hart.(note: all votes are re: regular season)

    The way I look at it…. imagine the the team without that player this past year…. and which team then falls the most in the standings without that person in the lineup for the year.

    Barkov, with that rationale, should have definitely got votes. Same for Sid.

    However, many many a PHWA member in the past has admitted to voting for the League’s MOP for Hart….. so it will be McD

    The PHWA collective mindset on Hart , has in the past differed from the NHLPA collective mindset on the Ted Lindsay Award (“ Awarded to the NHL’s outstanding player”)

    • If we use the player without whom his team falls the most in the standings for the year as the criterion for selecting the Hart winner, shouldn’t we mention Patrice Bergeron? I can’t figure out what he doesn’t do that causes him to go so unnoticed by astute observers of the sport, and even by those who pay him.

      Where would the Bruins have finished without him? Their next in line at center, Krejci, couldn’t score until Hall arrived. Bergeron has fewer points than the three present Hart nominees, but none of them were better than plus-22, despite their points. Bergeron was plus-27. His faceoff win percentage in 10% better than the best of any of the three nominees. That alone has to make a considerable difference in the number of times his team scores and the opposing team doesn’t.

      • Matthews and Mac over Marchand is ridiculous.
        Bergy never gets any respect. He probably won’t even win the Selke trophy, even though there’s none better than him in the game. They should rename the trophy after the man.

        This coming from a Gainey and Carbo fan.

      • I take your point, SOP.

        Some individual awards are self defining – the Art Ross for most points, the Richard for most goals – but what is not often published is who voted and who got votes. It would be good to know the results and improve the credibility of choices. I agree that Marchant should have warranted strong consideration as the Bs would have been in trouble without him.

        Lyle, perhaps you could leave the advocacy role you have adopted this morning re the cap and help out with an explanation on this? Or others in the know?

      • I do think they publish the whole list somewhere, they announce the 3 finalist. In some years its been close top 4-5 but usually its close between the top 2.

        Also am I the only one that think the awards are awarded for regular season and not playoffs? I wouldn’t mind seeing what a nominee does in the post season should have some weight on the awards.

      • Ron, the difficulty is that some legitimate contenders for awards would effectively be eliminated if their teams don’t make the playoffs. Think Rocket Richard for most goals scored, for example.

      • The awards are 100% based on the regular season, Ron. It’s always done like that.

      • Shoreorrpark and Lj– Could it be said that Marchand makes an even better case for Bergeron? I think a lot of what Marchand does begins with what Bergeron does.

      • True enough, Francis. Imho, he’s the absolute best all around players in the game. With all due respect to Sid, of course. The super kids are great offensive players, but they have a ways to go for all around play. I do believe that McDavid, Matthews and Nate the great will get there though. They’re just not there yet. Barkov is probably the closest right now. Aho also plays the entire rink very well.
        KK is my personal favorite of the really young players who will leave a legacy as all around greats.
        It’s not just all about points.

      • Might be, Francis. Two good choices, take your pick.

  5. Lightning should win the cup hip surgery or not time to let Rask walk. What mess of a hockey play no commitment. I won’t be watching if this guy plays in a bruins jersey again.

  6. Take $17 million worth of players away from Tampa and it’s a much different story … but you can’t blame them, blame the system.

  7. Re LTIR and Cap ceiling… love it or hate it… it’s here until end of this current CBA at least; and I suspect will carry on

    It was not a contentious bargaining issue on last 2 CBAs…. many might cringe at it, but NHL and NHLPA seem to want it

    Kessler has an NMC… if he didn’t… I would have expected him to be traded…. almost $7 M in Cap flex is not a small commodity to have !

    This “cap circumventor” is here for the long haul

    • >>>It was not a contentious bargaining issue on last 2 CBAs…. many might cringe at it, but NHL and NHLPA seem to want it

      Count me as a cringer, but as long as the NHL and NHLPA want it, I might as well go yell at clouds.

      • I certainly acknowledge that it’s a legalized form of cap circumvention. As I and Pengy observed, both the league and the PA want it that way.

        It’s funny though. Folks get upset over a team using LTIR in that manner until it’s their team that does it…;)

      • Lyle – I think to some extent you’re misconstruing my argument.

        I have no problem with LTIR. I don’t think teams should be punished for having a guy out long-term. And the fact that their Cap goes up by exactly the amount of their Cap hit seems correct to me.

        The problem I have is that the salary cap itself disappears entirely for the playoffs.

        By my count, the salary cap this year breaks out to ~$992K per game. (or higher by a proportional amount with LTIR in use) Suddenly in the playoffs that goes out the window for reasons that still escape me despite your best efforts.

        And no, this isn’t a Lightning problem as I’ve acknowledged before. If this is the system, it’s broken. Whether or not the NHL and/or NHLPA agree to it or not (and it appears they agree), doesn’t mean that it’s not broken.

      • I agree Whalercaner.

        The cap has no purpose if it is not to ensure a level playing field in order to keep fan interest high throughout the season: the rule is to ensure that revenue rich teams do not gain an advantage over others by sheer dollar power.

        Think of how the Leafs and the Coyotes rosters would compare if there were no cap. Imagine the decline in attendance and in TV revenue (tied to viewers) if teams were eliminated from the playoffs weeks earlier than now, which is exactly what would occur if there were no cap.

        Sure, the Lightening find themselves in a legally convenient circumstance. But as the purpose of the cap is to reign in disparity through restricting spending then it is as equally valid in the playoffs as it in the regular season. To argue that the disappearance of the cap in the playoffs has equal effect for all teams and continuing fan engagement is sophistry.

  8. TBL did what teams have been doing for years, used a legal way to circumvent rules.

    As when Lou found a loophole, other teams began to jump on it and enough owners wanted to close it and presto….new rules.

    Same thing here, kudos to Julien BriseBois for managing to wrestle the cap to the ground and maintain the players for another cup run.

    • Let’s not forget Marian Hossa suddenly deciding that his skin condition prevented him from playing once his actual salary got down to 1m. Clear chicanery at work there. And the Hawks got away with it.

      • No chicanery at work there at all, Howard. Hossa had the same skin condition that drove Phil Esposito from the game. He hasn’t suited up with anyone since then. This wasn’t something that was just made up to give the Blackhawks cap space. Indeed, his departure left a big hole in their forward lines. His was a well-documented medical condition that met the approval of the league’s medical staff within the guidelines of the CBA.

  9. Easy to say any team could do same thing if had players needing surgery and still had enough talent to make playoffs. Problem is that a lot of teams can not afford that kind of salary. Make the regular season and obviously playoffs the same with cap hits it’s simply not fair one team gets to play with 18 million more talent on the ice than other teams.

  10. Lots of Lyle in the comments today. Love it. Awesome.

    • LOL, Randino. I usually try to jump in whenever I get a spare moment or if it’s a topic of particular interest. The LTIR issue is one of those.

  11. Go 🌸!

  12. I don’t see the logic in Hamilton’s complaint.

    The Lightning finished third in the Discover Central Division without Kucherov. Looking at that division, it’s unlikely that they would have finished any lower if Kucherov had been able to return to the lineup before season’s end. In fact, the Lightning may have missed out on the President’s Trophy and home-ice in the playoffs because os his absence. Unless Kucherov’s earlier return would have cost the Lightning a player whose loss would have changed the way the playoffs unfolded, what advantage did they gain in the playoffs by keeping him out during the regular season?

    • Francis – this isn’t quite as neat as I’m making it out to be, but I’ll give it a try.

      At the beginning of the year, TB has a major cap problem. They likely would lose/be forced to trade Killorn (or equivalent) and still have Kucherov.

      Kucherov goes on LTIR, allowing them to keep Killorn. Fair enough.

      Trade deadline approaches – they still have some $ left with Kucherov on IR, they’re able to get Savard. Again, fair enough I guess.

      Playoffs start: Kucherov is healthy, and can play immediately with no Cap implications.

      TB goes from Kucherov/ no Killorn/ no Savard on the roster
      to Killorn/no Savard, Kucherov still on roster
      to Killorn/Savard, Kucherov still on roster
      to Killorn/Savard/ AND Kucherov now on the active roster. All without any roster downside. It’s a playoff miracle!

      The problem isn’t so much the LTIR players added in the regular season. It’s the fact that they can add a ‘free’ 9.5M player in Kucherov during the playoffs. I think there are a lot of teams that would love to add a $9.5 M player at the start of the playoffs without any collateral roster concerns.

      • yes, the horse is still dead, and I’m still kicking it just to be sure:

        in effect, TB added Killorn (who otherwise would have been lost), added Savard, and started the playoffs with Kucherov. All of this occurring while they were OVER the CAP to start with.

      • I think that’s as good an explanation as could be had, Whalercane. Killorn and Savard are good enough to have had an influence on the outcome of the series.

        Just conjecture, but I think the taxi squad, Tyler Johnson , and trade possibilities could have provided the Lightning an avenue to retaining Killorn.

  13. Regarding our discussion on the salary cap and why it doesn’t count in the playoffs, I reached out to the good folks at Cap Friendly:

    ” It’s to simplify the cap counting process.
    The salary cap is only based on the regular season because all 31 teams take part in the regular season, whereas that isn’t the case for the playoffs.
    The salary cap also isn’t actually based on a $81.5M. Instead it’s based on a daily limit. This season that daily limit was $702,586. Each club can spend that much on their roster each day of the season. When added up it comes to $81.5M.
    Cap counting that included the playoffs would likely add a level of complexity that the league likely wasn’t interested in.
    It’s also why players aren’t paid on the playoffs. Their salaries are paid out in equal payments across the regular season based on their days on roster.”

    • Lyle, thanks for this clarification.

      Change it to a per-Game rate from a Daily rate, and use that rate for the playoffs.

      You’re welcome.

      • Tell that to the NHL and NHLPA…;)

    • Still there, Lyle? The legality of the Bolts position, the complexity of calculating it, do not defeat the fact that the Bolts have a clear advantage in this playoffs. This is as much an advantage now as it is in the regular season, for every series the Bolts play in.

      Saying, as you did above, that the rule applies to everyone is not true, as for this series no other team in the playoffs has this advantage.

      It is what it is and isn’t going to change any time soon, but advantage it is.

      • What advantage? They played without their top forward throughout the season and still qualified for the playoffs. How is it unfair that they got him back in time for the playoffs? Sure, he avoided the wear and tear of the regular season but he still had to train and prepare for the playoffs. He had no opportunity to get into game shape before the playoffs began. This could’ve just as easily gone sideways for them. The fact that he returned and played well speaks volumes for his training and preparedness. It would be the same thing if it happened to Dougie Hamilton or Sebastian Aho with Carolina, or Aleksander Barkov or Jonathan Huberdeau with Florida.

        What do you propose? That Kucherov should be ineligible for the playoffs because of an injury that sidelined him for the entire season?

      • No, Lyle. I propose the Bolts fit their line up to match up with the cap. If that includes playing Kucherov, then other players come out. Cap max line up versus cap max line up. Simple, fair solution.

        I have no idea why you point to other players and their teams when this does not apply to them.

      • First off, I’ve enjoyed this discussion today and respect the opinions of those who’ve taken part. Glad to see everyone’s kept it respectful without resorting to childish insults or namecalling.

        Bottom line, LJ, is the Lightning did nothing wrong. They operated within the rules of the CBA, which the NHL and NHLPA agreed upon in good faith.

        Is LTIR a form of legalized cap circumvention? Of course! No one’s arguing that but it’s what both sides have agreed to and they saw no reason to change it when they had two opportunities to do so.

        If Kucherov and the Lightning somehow conspired to take himself out of the lineup for the season so the Lightning could have cap relief by faking an injury or the severity of the injury, then yes, they should be punished for attempting to break the LTIR rules. But that’s not what happened here. He had hip surgery that sidelined him for over four months. He returned in time for the playoffs. No big deal. The Lightning were able to get cap relief by placing him on LTIR, just like every other team in the league has done or would’ve done.

        The salary cap doesn’t count in the postseason. Again, that was agreed upon by the league and the PA. I’ve posted the explanation why from Cap Friendly. So again, where’s the harm here?

        Some say it “doesn’t look good” or that it’s fishy. Again, it’s merely coincidental that Kucherov returned in time for the playoffs. He’s not the only NHL player in history to suffer an injury sidelining him for most or all of a regular season and then returned for the playoffs. He won’t be the last.

        The rules regarding LTIR are what they are. They won’t change anytime soon, if ever. Every team will avail themselves of those rules to garner cap relief. You may not like it, but that’s the way the NHL and NHLPA have chosen to operate and they seem fine with it.

      • This, LJ, absolutely!

        I’m glad I’m not alone.

      • I too have enjoyed the exchange, Lyle. I am not looking for the last word, but I never said that the Bolts were underhanded, nor did I say rules were circumvented. It’s not unlike someone finding a loophole in the income tax act that no one else did. Clever, legal, great — if it was you who found it. Fair to teams in this playoff series? In the eye of the beholder.

        I am popping a cork to conclude my contribution on this topic.

  14. The 4 teams in the semifinals:

    TBL- 98,840,470
    NYI- 88,427,235

    MC- 82,277,688

    St Louis- 90,143,256
    Dougie Hamilton’s owner chose to spend under the cap- 79,482,882