NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021
Jack Eichel changes agents plus the latest on John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Bo Horvat and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Still in a dispute with the Buffalo Sabres over treatment for his neck injury, center Jack Eichel has changed agents. He will now be represented by Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency, who also represents high-profile players such as Sidney Crosby and John Tavares.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s former agents released a statement a month ago that was critical of the Sabres’ handling of their now-former client’s situation. With no end of the stalemate in sight, hiring Brisson has sparked speculation over its effect upon his trade status. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.
NHL.COM: Speaking of Tavares, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain said he’s “doing fantastic” in his recovery from a concussion and knee injury suffered during the playoffs. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to hear that Tavares is healthy and gearing up for the start of the new season. He’ll be under considerable pressure this season to lead the Leafs to playoff success after the club’s stunning first-round collapse against the Montreal Canadiens three months ago.
THE SCORE: After signing Sean Couturier to a contract extension on Thursday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated contract talks with captain Claude Giroux will be held off until the end of 2021-22. Giroux, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher also said both sides are comfortable with that decision. It will allow the Flyers to evaluate their captain’s performance and his future with the club. Giroux will use this season to prove his worth to the Flyers (or other clubs) in his contract year.
THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is determined to reach the playoffs this season. He believes they have the team to do it. “Enough is enough, we can talk all we want, at the end of the day we have to go out there and prove it on the ice,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expectations were high for the Canucks entering last season after reaching the second round of the 2020 playoffs. A shortened season, an outbreak of COVID-19, the offseason departures Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, and Elias Pettersson’s season-ending injury were critical factors that scuttled their 2021 postseason hopes.
General manager Jim Benning shook up the roster, bringing in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Jaroslav Halak and Jason Dickinson while shedding Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby, Loui Eriksson and several others. Time will tell if those moves improve the Canucks, especially their porous blueline.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes some Jets fans are being overly critical of Josh Morrisey. While the 26-year-old defenseman was accused of slacking off last season after landing a big contract, he was in fact dealing with his father’s fight with brain cancer that eventually took his life on Aug. 8.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrissey didn’t use that as an excuse for his inconsistent play but McIntyre believes it’s a justifiable reason. “How could it NOT have impacted his on-ice performance?”, he asked his readers.
We fans and pundits are quick to criticize players when their performance is not up to their usual standard. Sometimes it’s justified, but more often than not there are genuine reasons behind the decline. Sometimes they’re dealing with a loved one’s life-threatening illness or death. Sometimes they’re trying to play through a serious injury.
Sure, a handful of them can find the physical and mental toughness to overcome those issues and continue playing at a high level of competition. Most, however, will struggle to cope. That doesn’t make them weak. It just makes them normal. We tend to forget that.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed defenseman Jordie Benn to a one-year, $900K contract.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are reportedly close to signing defenseman Libor Hajek.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Ryan Poehling to a two-year contract. That leaves Jesperi Kotkaniemi as their only remaining restricted free agent.