NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2021

by | Jun 28, 2021 | News, NHL | 28 comments

Nikita Kucherov denies he was injured in the semifinals, Joel Armia in COVID protocol again, Jean-Gabriel Pageau faces surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov denied suffering an injury during Game 6 of the semifinal series against the New York Islanders. He left the game early following a hit by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and didn’t return. He was back in the lineup for the Lightning’s series-clinching win in Game 7. “There was no injury, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said during yesterday’s media conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov left that game in obvious pain and didn’t return. Lightning coach Jon Cooper wasn’t sure if his leading scorer would return for Game 7. So yes, he suffered an injury, though it wasn’t serious enough to keep him out of the lineup for the final game of that series. He logged the fourth-most ice time among Lightning forwards in Game 7.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Joel Armia missed practice on Sunday and didn’t travel with the team to Tampa Bay after being placed in COVID-19 protocol. The club will release more details on Armia’s status today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armia was placed on the COVID protocol list back in March and missed eight games.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he was not aware of sexual assault allegations made during the 2010 playoffs by a former player during his tenure as the club’s director of pro personnel.

It came out recently,” said Bergevin. “There was a meeting that I’ve heard was done in Chicago. I was not part of any meeting and I was not part of any decision based on that. I was not aware of what was going on at the time. You can go on the record with that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin was not among the Blackhawks senior front office personnel listed by TSN to have attended that meeting to address the allegations. A former Blackhawks marketing official recently said the alleged sexual assault of two players was an open secret among the staff within and outside the organization.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports a league source claims New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal with multiple injuries during the semifinal series against Tampa Bay. One of them will likely require surgery.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders captain Anders Lee said he’s ahead of his initial recovery timeline and expects to join his teammates for the start of training camp in September. He underwent season-ending knee surgery in March.


  1. Perhaps Kucherov just didn’t “feel like” playing the rest of that game 6 … much like – perhaps – he didn’t “feel like” returning to action towards the end of the regular season.

    • Maybe he thought there was a salary cup for the playoffs and he had to go on LTIR for the rest of the game. Or maybe he thinks that a whopper like that will get him a job with Putin when his hockey career ends.

      • If, in his own mind, he wasn’t injured I don’t want to know what a real injury looks like in his own mind.

    • OK here we go with the BS. Come on guys. Kucherov is playing mind games. As a Tampa Bay lightning season ticket member I was at the clincher against New York and I can tell you for sure Kucherov was at best 60% in this game despite the ice time he received. He played tentative by comparison to other games I’ve seen him in, which by the way is hundreds. He took a late hit on the end wall to the right of the New York goal in the third. He skated away shaking and extending his left arm much the same way he did when he left the ice surface in New York.

      George et al y’all need to get over this cap circumvention crap. It’s really not becoming of you

      • ShaneinTpa,

        Right on, folks have a bone to pick just because they want to have a bone to pick.

        Why should Kucherov “admit” an injury if he had one? The vast majority of players don’t, and if they do its just upper or lower body.

        People still want to complain about Kucherov and TBL and the cap while disregarding other teams doing the same, like the NYI.

        They aren’t bringing anything new to the table, no new facts to present any illegality.

        I for one, am looking forward to a good series by two teams who have beaten the best of the best and one of them will have its day of reckoning.

      • Well of course he was injured. No one’s disputing that – don’t you recognize sarcasm?

        And sure, no team – or player – is going to discuss the specifics of a injury. It’s when he comes out, in response to a media question (they have jobs to do as well) with a snarky ““There was no injury, I don’t know what you’re talking about,”

        THAT is what leads to comments in kind. So dismount from the high-horses.

  2. Pengy i seen your rebuttal to my comment on MAF gaff.

    This will be my last comment; as you stated we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    It doesn’t matter how many goals Vegas scored, it doesn’t matter how many opportunity they missed and doesn’t matter how well Price played.

    The only thing that matter was Vegas was leading with two minutes left in the game. They played and extremely sound defensive game and control they play all night long.

    Montreal had no push in the final minutes, they only had one man going in on the play.

    Fleury instead of taking the puck turning around and passing it over to his dman; decided to try casually backhand the puck thru his legs; well it didn’t go as plan.

    Up until that moment the game as it was played was in total control by Vegas. (Reminded me of Canada in the Olympics when they played keep away for 60 minutes, the game was never in doubt)

    You can post paragraphs of PP, top 6, Price etc none of it matters because at that point in the game Vegas was leading they earned that lead and were giving Montreal nothing.

    Yes Fleury loss that game but that doesn’t mean his loss the series for them.

    • MAF lost that pivotal game for Vegas, plain & simple … anybody watching a hockey game for the very first time could clearly come to that conclusion … you shouldn’t argue with someone who has absolutely zero Hockey IQ … you are fighting a losing battle.

      • I don’t think he was arguing with you Ed.

    • Hi Caper

      Unfortunately we will continue to agree to disagree n this

      I fully cede that play “turned the tide” of the game

      That said; there is only 1 play by 1 player ; IMHO, that can determine the outcome of a game….. that being the winning goal in OT in a 1-0 game; unassisted ; and solely beating the goalie (no bounce off of opposing player and in)

      With those narrow parameters; it “could” be argued that that player “won” the game

      Again…. 1 goal in that game is on MAF

      It was not the GWG; but DID come at an inopportune time

      His teammates had 72 + minutes to get one more goal (and don’t forget; Staal gift-wrapped a goal for them)

      As I said before; had Fleury’s mistake happened 2 minutes in to the game ….. no one talks about him losing the game

      Had Knights won that game; do Habs blame Staal for that loss… no

      Again, I cede that it was a gaff; it was ill-timed; and certainly turned the tide; but Knights had 58 minutes prior and 2 mins after in reg to give another goal; and had 12+ mins n OT to win the game

      Habs won; Knights lost

      We agree to disagree


      • I 100 % agree 1 play 1 goal but I have said many times here die hard Hab fan . We lose that game and series if he stays in his net

  3. This black hawks story has legs and isn’t going away anytime soon . The names involved could send shockwaves from Florida to Winnipeg to Montreal and back to Chicago . Bowman and chevyldaoff were supposedly in the meeting and it’s hard to believe quenneville and Bergevin knew nothing about such an “open” secret . Hard to believe that this man got a recommendation letter to go work with kids with the knowledge they had at that time . Incredibly poor judgment that reflects poorly on all involved and should be investigated and handled to the full extent .

  4. The Kucherov situation is a crock. So you are out on LTIR all season long and then magically the day the playoffs start you are healed. There has to be some change to this rule or whatever you want to call it. Perhaps there should be a minimum number of games played in the regular season to allow a player to be in the playoffs. All I know this wreaks of something but I am not sure what !! And then I guess he go tired in game 6 and just needed a little rest. Give me a break.

    • I have to agree. The TB GM and coaches could easily have assessed right from the get-go that, with their overall roster, there was no danger of them missing the playoffs in their division and that, with Kucherov on the sidelines for the full 56 games, it would also give them the opportunity to add a couple of key pieces at the trade deadline – which they could not have done had his cap hit been incorporated back into the structure.

      And please, let’s not hear anymore about the “integrity” of the NHL in ensuring all medical considerations were carefully monitored and that there was no wink-wink going on. This is the same organization that, almost weekly, turns a blind eye to the farce that is their Department Of Player Safety shenanigans in handing down suspensions.

      That Chicago situation could eventually be revealed to be one more example of a lack of integrity.

      • I read something over the weekend about how the Blackhawks had a similar situation in 2015 when they beat Tampa in the final. Tampa proposed closing this salary cap playoff loophole but no one else agreed. Like it or not, Tampa’s salary cap maneuvers seem to be quite legal. For now anyway. The issue may very well be addressed further.
        As for the Chicago scandal, there must be a thorough independent investigation of all involved and there must be consequences.

      • You assume the Hawks are guilty of something when all we have is an accusation.

        How about we let due process take its course before we jump to consequences.

      • LJ where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire. We should look into if it’s just BS on fire or someone’s life…you know?

        George I agree with you but in the playoffs, you got to pull out all the stops. No way the league puts an end to this, it stirs up the small NHL fan base, not make them leave.

        I’m hoping for a great game, something like immovable force (Habs D) vs unstoppable force (TB O). If the Habs win this cup, they will only be 2 more championships to tie the Yankees for most championships for a NA sports team.

        MFing Leafs!

      • I agree with lj. Howard your statement that there must be an investigation and there must be consequences is odd. If we know there must be consequences then why hold the investigation?

      • Ron, I wouldn’t come down too hard on the Leafs. You may recall that, before the playoffs began, I had voiced the opinion that the Leafs would come out of the North, and as the series progressed with them taking a 3 to 1 lead heading home for game 5, I – and a whole slew of others – figured it was a fait-accompli.

        Only after the stunning 3-game sweep by the Habs and some honest assessment did it become clear what went wrong. Some point to the loss of Tavares in game 1 – but to me that was essentially a non factor because they still managed to build that 3-1 series lead without him, and without much goal production from Matthews and Marner. In other words, they were getting production from their depth guys like Spezza, Nylander, Kerfoot, Rielly, Galchenyuk, Thornton – hell even in that game 5 they got two from Muzzin to send it to OT.

        But then the bottom fell out and looking at it afterwards from a non-fan point of view, but one who thought they’d finally advance deep, it not only became clear why, but made me realize that, while we are all ready to voice opinions on the merits and negatives of every team, when all is said and done we don’t know 1/100th of what team management/coaching/scouting know about their organizations.

        I sure as hell admit that I never considered hugely contributing kids like Kotkeniami, Caufield, Suzuki to be as instrumental as they have been, that that Montreal’s top 4 D was so much better than Toronto’s D structure, that their veteran acquisitions (like Perry and Staal) would be head and shoulders above anything contributed by Thornton and Simmonds, and that Danault could be SO effective in shutting down Matthews. And when Matthews and Marner did get their chances – and I can recall quite a few instances when they did – there was that “past it overpaid and overrated” Price with unbelievable stops.

        And then they did it again in 4 against the Jets and topped it off by knocking out the heavily favored (many said 4 straight) Golden Knights. All of which made me realize – again – that that’s why we are armchair GMs/coaches and not actively involved.

        In the end, the simple truth was the Leafs had more glaring roster weaknesses than most of us considered and it showed. Even so, many of us will nevertheless spend the summer advising Dubas (or the GM of whatever team we follow) what they should – and shouldn’t – do, as well as praise or condemn/ridicule trades, acquisitions, and so enter a new season full of hope and optimism. Twas ever thus.

      • George, I’m taking nothing away from any of the points you are making.
        The habs came to play in that series. They went down 3-1, they remained confident but at the same time they adapted.
        The Leafs seem to have missed the boat on the latter. No line matching in game 5 or game 7 with the last change.
        No change to PP, the PP was terrible to watch, they couldn’t set up properly as the guys on the point just couldn’t find the seams Matthews had to adjust and he was below the dots most of the time – thats not where your sniper should be. Where was the change? Should marner have been replaced by Nylander? maybe?
        Should they have moved jumbo off the top PP and brought in Spezza to win draws? Should Simmonds have been the net front presence instead of Thornton?
        We’ll never know what would have worked or what wouldn’t have, one thing we do know is that the coaching staff didn’t want to find out.

  5. Other items that I think will have legs that have to do with NHL ‘s integrity is the one set of rules for the regular season….another for the play offs.

    I think this will be addressed in the offseason for three reasons.

    1) how long will the NHL teams be able to sell $200 tickets for Feb games that don’t matter at all

    2) a major future revenue stream for the NHL will be gambling money….gamblers don’t like inconsistency

    3) stars produce revenue through sales of sweaters etc. far more than other players…this year all the Hart trophy candidates exited early….14 of the highest paid players did as well….these developments don’t go well with the business plan

    As Woodward & Berstein said FOLLOW THE MONEY

    • Old Blue Dog I have to agree with all but 1) above. And I say that because, among the total fan base of all 31 teams there is an element – and it’s a large one – who dutifully paint their faces in team colours, wear expensive jerseys – almost always with the name of their particular favorite on the back – and who cheer loudly for their team of choice without much thought given to the ongoing – for want of a better description I’ll call “the deeper aspects of the game, roster considerations, etc” of the type often covered in here.

      And, yes, their money is as good as anyone’s and if they’re happy with the way their team and the league is run, so be it. So that type will always buy the $200 tickets, and if they’re in a large market then the rink will almost always have a full house.

      An example of the type of fan I’m talking about I remember from a game I attended here in Ottawa a few years back against the Devils. Halfway through the first period it had been THE most boring display I’d seen in a long time and, at one stage, the operator of the Jumbotron (?) directed the fans to “make noise.” Dutifully, a string of fans in the row below us, faces painted, all wearing jerseys with “names” on the back, stood up and joined the throng in “making noise.” WE just sat there and at one point one of them turned to us and asked “why aren’t you making noise?” To which we replied, almost in unison, “when they actually DO something we’ll make noise, than you.” The look we got was, to say the least, frigid.

      So, fans all – but poles apart in how we view the game.

    • All your points sound responsible but they all don’t affect European football at all. All three points are way bigger there but still it charges on and fans, well, it’s just us the part of the beautiful game. LOL.

  6. To my surprise Jake Evans has been cleared to play and will probably replace Armia, being a natural centre.

    Evans shoots R and Staal shoots L meaning the line has a strong side face off on either side if they want.

    These two teams are more evenly matched than appears at first look, 5 on 5 there isn’t much to choose.

    Goaltending in the playoffs is even.

    Special teams should be a Tampa advantage, but Habs seem to have turned it around in the playoffs. They have scored more on the PK than given up and the dead PP got some goals.

    The eye test says Tampa but the heart test Montreal.

    • hmmmm, Armia is on his way to Tampa on a private plane and is a game time decision.

      Apparently it was a false positive.
      Interesting times.

      • You have to wonder what, exactly, is a “false positive” and how often does it happen? And if there can be “false positives” does it follow that there can also be “false negatives?”

        Interesting times indeed. So, who plays? Armia or Evans?And, if both, who sits?

  7. The real question regarding Kucherov’s injury seems to be ignored.
    Why were both the refs, and the so called Department of player safety ignoring very, very late hits by Clutterbuck, Martin , Mayffield et all. These were illegal and ridiculously consistent throughout the playoffs. Look at the amount of games lost due to illegal unpunished hits thrown well after the puck was gone. A new low for the NHL!

  8. No disrespect meant for Adam Fox or Cale Makar who are both fine young defensemen and on track to be at the top of the league for many years but I’m at a loss how Victor Hedman is not hands down the Norris Trophy winner and a first team defenseman. He’s forgotten more about defense than the two youngsters have yet to learn.