NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2021
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.
“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.