NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 23, 2021

by | Aug 23, 2021 | News, NHL | 37 comments

Rangers Hall-of-Famer Rod Gilbert passes away plus the latest on Jack Eichel, David Savard and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers yesterday announced Rod Gilbert had passed away at age 80. Fondly known as “Mr. Ranger” as a team ambassador and a community relations representative, Gilbert was among the greatest players in franchise history.

New York Rangers Hall-of-Famer Rod Gilbert (NHL.com).

An eight-time all-star, he spent his 18-season NHL career with the Rangers from 1960 to 1978. He’s their all-time scoring leader with 406 goals and 1,021 points  He also won the Masterton Trophy in 1975-76. Gilbert was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982 and he became the first player in franchise history to have his number retired.

Gilbert was part of the Rangers’ vaunted GAG Line (Goal-a-Game) alongside Jean Ratelle and Vic Hatfield in the early 1970s. He helped the Blueshirts reach the 1972 Stanley Cup Final and was a member of Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A talented offensive star, Gilbert was also among the NHL’s classiest players. He overcame a serious back injury early in his career to become one of the league’s most popular stars in the 1970s. My sincere condolences to Gilbert’s family, friends, former teammates and the Rangers organization.

THE FOURTH PERIOD: David Pagnotta cites sources claiming Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel has yet to undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck. It’s increasingly unlikely he’ll be medically cleared to start the 2021-22 regular season regardless of which team he’s playing for.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The impasse persists between Eichel and the Sabres front office over which surgical procedure he’ll undergo. He wants disc replacement surgery while team doctors recommend fusion surgery.

Eichel’s situation has also made him the subject of ongoing trade speculation. Pagnotta suggests a team could still trade for the Sabres center even if he’s unavailable for the start of the season. Given his hefty contract and the Sabres’ expensive asking price, there doesn’t appear to be many clubs keen to take that risk.

THE ATHLETIC: Speaking of the Sabres, the club’s long decline, the recent trading away of several core players and Eichel’s expected departure is hurting season ticket sales for the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A decade of suck thanks to meddling ownership and an ever-changing cast of general managers and coaches tend to have that effect on the gate.

THE SCORE: David Savard said the Montreal Canadiens intend to win the Stanley Cup this season. Savard won the big mug last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, defeating the Canadiens in five games. He said he liked how the Habs played against the Bolts in the Final and believes he and others with championship experience can help them go all the way.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Savard was signed by the Canadiens earlier this summer as a free agent. I admire his positive attitude and enthusiasm but I have my doubts we’ll see the Habs hoisting the Cup next spring.

The Canadiens face a tough challenge in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Lightning, the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes could finish among the top four. The Habs also have to contend with two flawed but still talented teams in the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, aging but still skilled clubs like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, and improving teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.

They’ll also need promising young forwards Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to take their next steps toward stardom. And of course, they need goaltender Carey Price to be at the top once he’s fully recovered from offseason surgery.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan examines several possible Arizona locations for the Coyotes if the city of Glendale carries forward with its decision to opt-out of its arena lease agreement.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators fans will need to provide proof of double vaccination against COVID-19 to attend their home games this season.


  1. Condolences out to the Gilbert family

    Loved watching him play when I was a kid

    RIP RG

  2. Re “ Habs also have to contend with two …..aging but still skilled clubs like the Pittsburgh Penguins…”

    Unless there is a big change (and soon) …. I have little confidence that Habs need to concern themselves with Pens

    As is (reminder Gino out at least 1/6th of the season)… Pens are likely battling to make 5th in Metro

    HexBurkie …. Wake up

    For the Atl Div…. I think Panther’s are positioned best to take the Div

    Bolts likely second

    Habs and Bruins might just likely come down to the wire for 3rd

    3rd through 5th in Atl could come down to goaltending …. and if so… Habs for 3rd is my guess

    With above prognostication (Leafs not in top 3 in Atl)…. Leafs will need to beat out 2 of Metro 4th, Metro 5th, Habs or Bruins (whoever finishes lower)

    So playoffs not looking a shoo in for either of my fav teams


    • You’re off on third place Unless the bruins do something drastic the lineup they have now will finish dead last. Forbort?!?! Bust likewise Foligno Nosek Haula and Stududnicka.

      • Rick, I will go with BUF last, with DET in 2nd last.
        If had had to bet.

        Pengy, ya FLA looks good on paper, but it’s still FLA so kind of believe it when I see it. Depends on Bob.
        TOR gets 3rd IMO, but a battle to get there against BOS, where there may be a challenge to get goals, and can Ullmark stay healthy?

        Losing Weber hurts MTL. Savard is a good player, but big skates to fill. Same with Danault. In fight for wild card, but stiff competition in the east.

      • Hi Ray

        You are bang on when you say that it comes down to Bobo

        Any serious injury(to a key player) aside… my take is (1) If Bobo can play even at a $6M to $7M value (noteCap is $10M) in terms of wins and 2) the youngster does NOT get overwhelmed (and falter big) in say 20 starts; then Panthers have a very good shot at 1st ATL; and 1st in East not an unreasonable thought

        Bolts lost their 3rd line…. Yep…. But remain with arguable the best DMan; best winger; and best goalie in the league; add to that a B2B cup winning team confidence; and a good coach…. they should be right up there with Panthers

        Sabres and Detroit at bottom; Sens moving on up (look out next year and year after) but not quite at playoffs yet IMHO

        so 3rd – 5th…. Battling (in no particular order)… Bruins, Habs, Leafs

        Yes Savard is not Weber…. But don’t sell him short, he’s not leaps and bounds behind Weber and is younger. He’s a sound DMan. I still say Habs tandem is excellent. Balanced (compared to Leafs and Bruins) fwd lines

        Bruins …. DK out; Tuuuuuk out…. So yes big difference…. have to see if (1) DK and/or Tuuuuk do/does in fact return and/or how Ulmark/Swayman do; and/or how 2C works out….. this team has , IMHO; an equal chance at 3rd, or 4th, or 5th…. above play well… 3rd; collectively poor… 5th

        Leafs… IMHO much weaker (than last year) in G; weaker offensively (Richie replacing Hyman etc!!!); and basically status quo on D…. with Panthers; Bolts; Bruins back “in” the Leafs Div and still against Habs…. To me, on paper…. 4th/5th is much more likely than 3rd. Now, if somehow the tandem goes on a spree…. 3rd is in reach… as at now; I’m in a doubting Thomas mode 😢🧐

      • Agree with almost all of that Pengy.
        If forced to bet today I go 1 – TB, 2 FLA, 3 TOR.
        Agree with BOS, TOR and MTL battling for 3-5 spots.
        I think the Leafs took the smaller step back than BOS and MTL.
        TB may start slow due to hangover, so maybe FLA finishes first, we’ll see.
        Hard to find a tougher division, that’s for sure.

    • Yet again you want Hextall & Burke to “wake up” … do yourself a big favor and Google the Pittsburgh Penguins salary cap situation … then go take a nap

    • FLA getting 1st assumes that either rookie Knight or perennial disappointment Bobrovsky is going to go on a run in net for a full season. They’ve got a good team, but huge concerns in net.

      Boston with Coyle as 2C and Ullmark as their #1…not saying they won’t challenge for 3rd, because they always find a way, but they are definitely worse this year than last and they better hope Ullmark improves behind a non-Buffalo team.

      All these ATL teams seem to have some goaltending question marks (Habs need Price to be playoff Price, Leafs need Jack to provide some consistency) and I think the team who answers those will fall into the #2/3/4 slots. With Vasi, the Bolts don’t have that question and even though they lost their shut-down line, I still think they’re my favorite for top in the division.

      • Hi SCJ

        Responding later in day here; and responding top to bottom

        My response above to Ray parallels/is similar to your thoughts with the exception that I have a little more confidence (hopes?) in Panthers ; and also have more gut feeling/positive prognostications on the Habs tandem

        My heart still pulls, hopes, prays for Leafs and Pens to be in the playoffs and do well; but I will not be shocked if either or (gasp) both (💩😡🤬😢) ; don’t make the playoffs

        Both tight at Cap, but should be making calls (especially HexBurkie. Their current stance [at least publicly] of starting the season as is with no attempt at a trade; is very disheartening).

        Fingers , eyes, toes crossed

  3. Rod Gilbert was one of the classy guys in the NHL, with both talent and personality.

    He was one of the “opposition” that you still had to like.

    A legend gone

    • rod gilbert was a classy player, watched him play the Bruins many time while growing up in New York and Massachusetts. My younger brother liked Hatfield because he was the heavy on that line but I like Jean Ratelle, who was a tremendous hockey player and had the best backhand I ever saw in those days, was afraid to use it. Ratelle was great on the Bruins later on when that trade went down with Brad Park. Anyways, sorry for the Gilbert family. all the great ones are dying off. It was an honour to watch those guys play back in the day!!

  4. Couple of points – I guess the Ottawa Senators don’t count among the “improving teams” Montreal will have to face this coming season, even though they played them hard this past season when they were sorting things out.

    The other is Garrioch’s column pointing out that fans in Ottawa will need to prove double vaccination to attend. No mention was made of the ever increasing volume of double-vaccinated contracting the Delta variant – and that’s only among those showing signs of the virus. Many more, apparently, are getting the virus but show no signs whatsoever. So I suppose they’ll still get in after showing proof of vaccination and spread it around to others who MIGHT later show symptoms that hospitalize them. Great plan.

    • Yeah, George, I think it an oversight to dismiss the Sens. They played good competitive hockey after a dismal start.

      I share Pengy’s assessment of the Pens and the Leafs; I think it could be argued with the loss of Hyman that the Leafs are worse off now than last year. I agree with SCJ,

      Sorry Ray. The B’s have one goalie signed at this point and, like the Caps have made no significant improvement to aging rosters. These teams will regress.

      The Habs risk lies at center, not because of the departure of Danault who scored 5 goals last year and a career high 13 the season before. This is Suzuki’s team to center now; the vulnerability is KK and whether he can develop the consistency needed to be a legit # 2 center. Weber cannot be replaced but Romanov will be better this year and with Savard will take much of the sting out of Weber’s departure. Hoffman is an improvement over Tatar and Caulfield brings more offense than the Habs had last season. No, they won’t repeat their playoff run but my money is on the Habs to make the playoffs.

      And yes, watch out for those pesky Sens.

      • TBL, TML, and Boston have all regressed.

        TBL, entire 3rd line, Tyler Johnson and 2D.

        TML lost Hyman, Foligno and Nash, Mrazek barely played last year and the year beore wasn’t good at all. D hasn’t improved at all.

        Boston lost Krejci, Coyle’s bad year is compounded with knee surgery. Questionable D is even weaker with Reilly as a top 4. Goaltending is much weaker, Ulmark is injury prone and the backup is a rookie.

        Ottawa picked up 2 journeymen centres, they obviously feel the young D corp hasn’t arrived yet. The net situation hasn’t improved. I don’t think they regressed per se but no improvement.

        Florida has improved, but Bennett will go back to what he is, losing Driedger might be bigger if Bobrovsky doesn’t find his CBJ form.

        All to say that imo the Atlantic is up for grabs.

      • Ottawa picked up 2 journeymen centres- sorry meant defencemen not centres.

      • Hi George and LJ

        I’m certainly not discounting the upswing of the Sens…. I’m just not quite “there” yet with a Sens playoff prognostication.

        Next year… big difference. Big

        Could they sneak in this year…. It is not out of the question; just IMHO ; a lower probability

        That said… this Leaf fan is willing to say that as at now; Sens have a better chance at a Cup in 3-5 years than the Leafs

        3 years from right now ; Leafs will start the season without AM ; and will likely have the 34 year old JT as their top line C

        Sens a rife with “up and comers”; on the rise; sitting with Cap space advantages

    • If everyone is vaccinated then they should be pretty set to fight off severe symptoms of delta. Problem is if non vaccinated people fake cards. They would be at risk.

      Is j and j still not a thing in Canada?

      • Hi Chrisms

        Canada’s “comparable” J&J situation was with Astro Zeneca

        Still tenuous re comfortability re attendance

        Major sports franchises in Ontario just starting to make public their explicit policies re entrance to games (whether it be proof of Vax-squared or negative test).

        A great deal of decisions will likely come out in next 4 weeks I would think

    • J&J, was never a thing up here chrisms. Don’t think it ever got approved, and then we had enough supply of the others so no need.
      For me and my age group it was AZ first, mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) 2nd.
      Most have 2 of the mRNA, and that is what we’re rolling with going forward. Agree on the vaccinated for attending as well chrisms. I think by the end of the year the older folks or those with compromised will have access to a 3rd shot by then as well.

      LJ, I do have the B’s regressing, just not all the way out of the playoffs. If Bergy gets hurt all bets are off, so vulnerable at the C position for sure. Tending? I dunno, I know there are some folks who never liked Rask, hopefully we don’t miss him too much. He was as consistently good as anyone outside of Vassy in TB IMO.

      Lyle should set up a betting/pool site sounds like he could generate some action.

  5. Gilbert, Park and Ratelle were always the most dangerous players on that team Gilbert was always a threat. One of the great ambassadors to the game extremely talented player.

  6. I was surprised to learn that dude was leading the rangers in so many categories…. I think of all the huge names the rangers had. Gretzky messier lindtos jags.

    Then I remembered the rangers bought those players in the middle or end of their careers.

    Who are some players the rangers drafted that turned into superstars and stuck with them? Besides lundquist I can’t think of any.

    • Leetch, Richter, Brad Park, Zubov, Kovelov, Weight, Amonte, Mcdonagh, Middleton, etc.

      Not picking anyone in the top 3 in over 50 years, and only a handful of top 5 picks for that same span isn’t likely to Produce many Mcdavids.

      Picking out of the top 10 continuously will land you a lot of good players, but not superstars.

      • Problem is, not many of those “stuck with them” for their whole careers – including Park who, I believe, played more seasons in Boston than in NY.

      • Ditto George though the draft position thing is an interesting fact. Leetch and richter are good names. The rest not good examples.

      • Well maybe not that stuck.

        But Mcdonagh, Zubov, Amonte etc aren’t good names? Pretty high profile players imo. Again, maybe not Mcdavids , Orrs, and so on. But those type of players are few and far in between.

        A lot of mediocre years, results in a lot of mediocre draft positions.

        Big free agency and big trades are a result of not being able to draft higher.

        Bottom line, I don’t care how they acquire players. When you have no draft luck, Fa’s and trades are a solution..

        Jagr, Messier, Panarin were / are solid core players for NY.

      • It wasn’t a knock on the rangers just an observation about my surprise with the article above. Amonte had his best years with hawks. Zubov with Dallas. Mcdunah on his way to doing it with Tampa.

      • A few other solid players drafted by Ny.

        Marc Savard
        Ryan Graves
        John Vanbiesbrook
        James Patrick
        Mattias Norstrom

        Mcdonagh was drafted by Montreal. Thanks Scott Gomez! But he never played any games for Montreal and was never part of their system.

      • Zubov did win a cup in NY. Unfortunately, given away way too early.

        Kovelov was the right trade for NY. Frustrating to watch in NY for some odd reason. Refused to shoot the puck. But thrived elsewhere.

        Hopefully I’m not here in 3-5 years talking about Kakko, Lafreinere, Lundkvist , Kravstov thrive elsewhere.

        This team has finally had some draft luck. Hopefully they’re not traded away prematurely.

      • I still can’t see Ryan graves name without instantly thinking “f that guy”.

    • Totally forgot that “Nifty” started with the Rangers. That was a one sided trade, wow.

      Ya, you don’t draft early, not many superstars coming your way. Some quality coming now though.

  7. George, I like ya. But seriously. First. Garrioch is a putz. I rarely get through anything he says without an eyeroll or two. Second. Please tell me you didn’t go to Facebook this morning to get your daily dose of 100% fact? Will you next tell me all about Afghanistan? Lets keep it to hockey in here. Do you know? Do the experts even know? They don’t. Nobody knows. Get vaccinated. Don’t get it. I got mine, I’m actually gonna pay Melnyk to see this team this year. Brady better get done….or that’s the last strike.

    rip Jimmy Hayes

    • Yes Dark G, we do actually know about the effectiveness of the vaccines.
      You know, that whole mountain of evidence that has piled up proving it?

    • Dark G, I only raised the Covid question in response to Lyle’s opening blurb which states

      “OTTAWA SUN: Senators fans will need to provide proof of double vaccination against COVID-19 to attend their home games this season. ”

      So, what I commented has EVERYTHING to do with the ongoing stage of fan attendance.

      IF he ever brings up Afghanistan amongst his topics of the day, then maybe I’ll comment on that subject.

    • Dark G – re Brady Tkachuk “getting done” – I mentioned the other day that it probably has already been done – or is just awaiting signatures – and that all 3 RFAs (Tkachuk, Batherson and Gustavsson) will have their deals announced shortly after arriving in Ottawa for the start of training camp as a means of kick-starting fan interest in the ticket drive.

      Only Logan Brown – the 4th RFA of note – might not be included in that publicity ploy as he’s likely on the way out as part of a deal package Or so I think.

      Also, look for Tkachuk and Chabot to be announced as alternating co-captains, with the other wearing an “A” on nights they’re not the “C.”

  8. David Savard has reason for optimism.

    Savard fills Weber’s skates defensively and has as good a first pass.

    Cole Caufield is with the team all year not just the last 10 games and the playoffs, the kid just scores.

    Hoffman is there now in place of Tatar, he just scores goals wherever he plays.

    Paquette and Perrault bring a gritty 200 foot game whether at centre or wing to replace Danault and they will both outscore him.

    There are rookies coming to camp looking to fight for spots and push out some players on D and bottom 6 F.

    Price is a question mark but Jake Allen played more games in the regular season and was the better goalie while Price has elevated his game in the playoffs.

    I don’t know if its enough but the team has improved and not regressed or stood still on top of which GMMB is perceived to be still looking to add.