NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2021

by | Aug 11, 2021 | News, NHL | 30 comments

The league mourns the passing of Tony Esposito, the latest on Robin Lehner and Dylan Larkin, the Wings avoid arbitration with Jakub Vrana, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The hockey world is mourning the loss of Tony Esposito, who passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer at age 78. The younger brother of Phil Esposito, he carved his own path to the Hockey Hall of Fame during his 16 NHL seasons, with all but one of those with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was a trailblazer, using the butterfly style of goaltending pioneered by Glenn Hall.

Hall of Fame goaltender Tony Esposito (NHL.com).

Tony O” backstopped the Blackhawks to the 1971 and 1973 Stanley Cup Finals. He holds the league’s single-season shutout record with 15 set in 1969-70. He also holds the Blackhawks career record for wins (418), shutouts (74) and games played by a goalie (873), as well as the single-season records for save percentage (.934) and saves (2,119).

Esposito won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1969-70. He also took home the Vezina Trophy in 1969-70, 1971-72 and 1973-74. He was part of the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup roster in 1968-69 and played in four games for Team Canada in the eight-game 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Esposito was one of my favorite players when I was growing up in the 1970s. In my opinion, he was the greatest goaltender in Blackhawks history. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, former teammates and the Blackhawks organization.

Along with Ken Dryden, Bernie Parent and Rogatien Vachon, Esposito was part of a dominant foursome of NHL goaltenders in the early-1970s. His unique acrobatic style, right-handed trapper and memorable mask made him one of the league’s most recognized netminders.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Robin Lehner said he caught some heat on social media last summer when player agent Allan Walsh tweeted his infamous photoshop of client Marc-Andre Fleury being stabbed in the back by a sword engraved with the name of Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.

Walsh was upset over Fleury’s lack of playing time during the 2020 playoffs. Fleury had the agent delete the image but Lehner said he caught some flak from Fleury’s supporters because of Walsh’s actions.

Lehner and Fleury laughed off the incident and combined last season to win the William M. Jennings Trophy. He also said he’s come to admire Walsh for his willingness to fight for players’ rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When Fleury was traded to Chicago last month Walsh praised Lehner as an “amazing teammate and friend” to his client. He also praised him as “a role model and inspiration deserving of respect” for his work as a mental health advocate.

THE ATHLETIC: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin is back on the ice skating and shooting as he aims to be ready for training camp next month. The 25-year-old center suffered a season-ending injury when Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn cross-checked him in the back of the neck during a game in late April. He’s yet to be cleared for contact drills but said he feels “refreshed and ready to go.” Nevertheless, he intends to be cautious in his preparations.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Speaking of the Red Wings, they avoided salary arbitration with Jakub Vrana, signing the 25-year-old forward to a three-year contract worth $5.25 million annually. He had originally sought $5.75 million while the Wings had offered $3.65 million.

ESPN.COM: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged a final decision on NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be made by the end of August. Negotiations between the league, NHL Players Association, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee are ongoing.

There are concerns over rising COVID-19 numbers and COVID restrictions placed on Olympic athletes that would dwarf those that NHL players experienced in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoff bubbles.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Phil Housley, Cory Stillman and Corey Schwab will all return as Arizona Coyotes assistant coaches this season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Andrew Allen was named goaltending coach for the Kraken. They also hired former NHL coach Dan Bylsma as an assistant coach with its temporary AHL affiliate in Charlotte.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed 2021 first-round pick Brandt Clarke to an entry-level contract.

CHICAGO DAILY HERALD: The Blackhawks signed forward Mike Hardman to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Andrew Peeke to a two-year, $1.575 million contract.


  1. How the mighty have fallen. Bylsma wins a Stanley Cup coaching the Penguins and now can only get an assistant coaching gig with an AHL team .

  2. Don’t really count Rogie in my Mt Rushmore of 1970’s goalies. Parent Dryden and Tony O definitely

    • Rogie for sure in. Gerry Cheevers too.

      • Only 4 spots on Rushmore and Parent Dryden and Tony O are already carved up there. You can makes cases for Liut Smith, Meloche, Resch

    • Totally whiffed here the 4th spot (actually 2nd) belongs to Vladislav Tretiak

      • Oh yes don’t forget about trektiak

    • Forget that. Brain Freeze
      Mt Rushmore or the 70’s
      Dryden, Tretiak, Parent, Tony O

    • My older cousin was hockey team manager at Michigan Tech when Tony Esposito played goalie there. Was a great player. RIP

  3. Think of those great goalies wearing today’s equipment or, even better, think of today’s great goalies in the gear from the 70’s.

  4. LOL BCLeafsFan
    They look like the Michelin man now

  5. Allan Walsh certainly fights hard for the rights of his players but maybe someone should clarify him on the fine line that exists between fighting for players and pulling outlandish stunts which only serve to embarrass his clients.

  6. Tony Esposito made one the greatest trades in Pittsburgh Penguin history sending Doug Bodger and Darrin Shannon to Buffalo for Tom Barrasso … rip

  7. now that the Jets have locked up Pionk , what is going to happen with Copp? they have no immediate cap space but will gain 5 million when the season starts and Little goes on LTIR.
    I am guessing but I would believe that $ will go towards paying for Vesalanien , Pefetti and Gustafsson.
    Anyone from the Peg who can comment ?

  8. Is it just me or does the deal Vrana got seem a little too much for only buying 1 year of free agency? I’m hoping that Yzerman is banking on himself having a winning team together so that Vrana wants to stay at that time, which seems…. I dunno . Possible if I’m hopeful, but with how bad these last two seasons have been and then the horrible draft lottery luck, I just don’t see DRW ready then.

    • I think that is a standard contract for a 50-55 point guy who looks like he may get 30 goals this season.
      Even if they overpaid by 200-300K I think its a better idea that dragging each other through the arbitration process. I don’t see how the arbitration award would be anything under 5M.

      • I agree there, I was just hoping to buy more UFA years in the deal. Even go up to $5.75M if you get 5 or 6 years on the contract. Wings should be back to playing well then.

  9. Seattle didn’t sign Quenville either. That now makes it 2 picks in the expansion draft that were completely wasted.
    I don’t get what Francis is doing here. Surely, someone with some trade value would be better than nothing. Anyone have an idea of what the plan was here?

  10. You are forgetting Sawchuck, Hall, Dryden & Plante.

    • Sawchuk Hall Plante were more 60’s

  11. Loved Tony O. Always thought he was better than Dryden in the Summit series, and should have started game 8!

  12. If you played street hockey in Canada and grew up in the 70’s and rotated in as a goalie (we all did)…. I would hazard to guess that in your mind on that road ; you were either Espo or Dryden …. Especially in the fall of ‘72 (after the summit series)

    I even remember borrowing my buddy’s right handed baseball glove to “play” Espo

    15 shutouts; rookie of the year (at 27)… outstanding career…. 👍👍👍

    I had but one sour moment (short lived) re Espo; as I did for the Golden Brett…. When they both were cut and/or not invited to play for their home country and switched to play for the US instead

    Again… short lived sour notes

    Tony O…. Condolences to your family


    • Had the Tony O mask for street hockey Pengy.
      The folks probably couldn’t find a Cheevers.

      • LOL

        Most often we didn’t have a mask…. I can confirm that a skinned down tennis ball (from a “wicked slap bomb” ) to the face , really hurts …. kept all my teeth though!

      • Ray, you’ll remember that Cheevers had a mask covered in stitches which he said would have been on his face if he hadn’t had a mask.
        Johnny Bower had the stitches on his face. Loved that guy.
        A buddy of mine played goal in junior without a mask. I always asked him how he could be any good if he didn’t have any stitches. He had no answer.
        And did someone mention Gump Worsley? He was worth the price of admission.
        Goalies – God love ’em.

  13. I always thought other Parent Tony O was the best goalie of 70’s. When team Canada played the Russians he was better than Dryden in net. Just look at who Dryden had Infront of him with the habs. Funny story about Tony in net his mother one time phoned Phil and said poor Tony the bruins the other night scored five goals On him & Phil replied I know I scored three Phil said she berated him for that.

  14. Fluto Shinzawa……says Charlie McAvoy by this time next year could be a $10 million player , could it be he will get a 10m/10y contract

    • Charlie Mac will not get 10 mill a year he isn’t worth it. He is a very good d but not that good.

      • I remember when I started watching hockey…………….

    • His knowledge of the cba is astounding

  15. Most hockey buffs claim that as great as Dryden was it was only on account of the team in front of him, Hab fans know otherwise:

    1972/73- 52-10-13
    1973/74- 45-24-9——The year Dryden sat out
    1974/75- 47-14-19
    1975/76- 58-11-11
    1976/77- 60-8-12

    We in Montreal always wondered what would have been had the Habs kept Tony O and let Vachon go instead.