NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 21, 2021

by | Sep 21, 2021 | News, NHL | 17 comments

Jonathan Drouin reveals the reasons behind last season’s leave of absence, Artemi Panarin doesn’t want to be Rangers captain, Travis Zajac retires and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: In a one-on-one interview that aired on RDS on Monday, Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin revealed anxiety and sleep disorder were behind his season-ending leave of absence in 2020-21. “I’ve had anxiety problems for many years,” said Drouin. “Insomnia problems that relate to my anxiety.”

Montreal Canadiens left wing Jonathan Drouin (NHL Images).

Drouin revealed he’d been dealing with anxiety for several years without knowing what it was. He said his problems had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol and he’s never been to a rehab program.

The Canadiens forward said he’d been handling his anxiety issues better in recent years but the restrictions placed on him and his teammates by COVID-19 took a toll on his physical and mental strength. While he never lost his love of the game, he said there were times last season when he went three straight nights without sleep.

Drouin praised the support he received from Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin, head coach Dominique Ducharme and his teammates throughout his ordeal. He’s happy with the decision he made last season, wants to remain in Montreal and his mental health is better than ever.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Anyone’s who’s ever dealt with anxiety or knows someone who is dealing with it knows how debilitating it can be. Add the pressure of playing for one of hockey’s most iconic teams and it’s no wonder Drouin needed to step away. It’s good to see he’s had the support of his team through all of this. It should help smooth his return to action this season.

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin said he doesn’t want to be captain of the New York Rangers. “I think we have more deserving candidates for that role now,” he said.

Panarin pointed out the job is more than just playing good hockey. “You also have to give your energy between the periods, motivate guys, giving interviews, being the face of the franchise. Overall, it’s a lot of work off the ice.” He felt he wouldn’t be an effective captain, adding his limited English would also be a problem.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: Travis Zajac signed a one-day contract with the New Jersey Devils in order to retire with the club that drafted him 17 years ago. The 36-year-old center spent almost the entirety of his 15 NHL seasons with the Devils until traded late last season to the New York Islanders. In 1,037 career games, Zajac tallied 203 goals and 552 points. He will remain with the Devils in an on/off-ice player development and consulting role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Zajac and his family in their future endeavors.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Edmonton Oilers will retire Kevin Lowe’s No. 4 jersey in the rafters at Rogers Place during a Nov. 5 game against the New York Rangers. He played for both clubs during his 19-season NHL career, 15 of those with the Oilers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes revealed their proposed arena entertainment district in Tempe, Arizona yesterday. The project would cost an estimated $1.7 billion and calls for private funding along with an additional $200 million portion coming from city tax revenues. The city will review the proposal in a process that could take months before a public meeting and a vote to accept or reject the proposal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season is expected to be the Coyotes’ last in Gila River Arena after the city of Glendale announced it would not renew its operating agreement with the club. They are currently in search of a temporary home.

The Coyotes also revealed their new white Kachina coyote road jerseys for the first time since 2003. The popular Kachina logo will also be the club’s primary logo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I always liked the Coyotes’ original logo. Glad to see they’re bringing it back.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The severity of Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin’s recent knee injury remains uncertain. An initial report claimed the injury was “significant” but Morin’s former teammate Riley Cote tweeted a text message exchange with the blueliner who said one of his knees was banged up but it was “nothing major”. Morin’s career has been hampered by two ACL tears in his right knee since 2018.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins signed winger Zach Senyshyn to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets placed defenseman Sami Niku on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

TSN: The Montreal Canadiens signed blueliner Cody Goloubef to a professional tryout offer.


  1. Re Drouin…. That explanation certainly makes sense. Anxiety , mental health issues are prevalent everywhere in every profession , in every walk of life; at every age. Mental health is a serious issue and I’m glad (and proud) to see more and more awareness and compassion of those afflicted. I have a family member dealing with mental health issues. I feel bad for Drouin that there were fans who incorrectly jumped on the “must be alcohol and/or drugs” bandwagon.

    Congrats or your retirement Travis…. Enjoy it… liked your game 👍👍

    Breadman… great to see humble honesty 👍👍. His playmaking and determination is leadership in its own 👍👍

    Re “ This season is expected to be the Coyotes’ last ….”… you had me at “last” 🤪

    Caper and all others of Jets knowledge…. I have little knowledge re the nuances of Niku’s play…. What’s the lowdown with the termination rationale?? Thanks in advance

    • The Winnipeg Sun’s Scott Billeck described Niku’s fall from AHL D of the year (in his rookie year) to valueless as (paraphrased) ‘bad luck, bad timing, injuries, sometimes poor attitude, suspect work ethic and sub-par defensive play’

      He had/has the skills to qb a PP. A downside is that he plays much much smaller than his listed size, doesn’t play with any structure and he has been passed on the depth/prospect pool by Stanley, Heinola and with a few others who are at least as ready to play now. Heinola is the premier prospect now.

      the surprise is not so much that he is gone but more that there was no trade for even a late pick in return. Just released – maybe he wants to go home.

      • Thanks 2.0

        But waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract???

        This termination can’t be unilateral unless he has breached the terms of his contract (morales clause or doesn’t show up to training camp)

        If there was unilateral termination of contract due to massive reduction in performance (compared to contract value)…. JJ would have been terminated after 1 season…. I would have terminated him after 1/2 a season BTW

        Either he wanted out of his contract and had his agent work it out with Jets and/or he didn’t show up to training camp

        It’s hard to believe that a young player at League min; is so bad that they have to terminate him

  2. I can remember watching Travis Zajac when he played for Salmon Arm in the BCHL. Time does fly.
    Excellent player, excellent career.

  3. Drouin had two interviews last night and he replied to all questions, such as the pressure playing in Montreal and would he be better off elsewhere.
    He replied that playing in Montreal is living a dream and its where he wants to spend his career.

    The interviews were interesting as the questions weren’t lob balls and he didn’t duck any of them.

    Something he alluded to a few times in both interviews is “his” coach. The tie to Coach Ducharme is obviously strong with a lot of trust.

    Its going to be interesting.

  4. Well since Zach Senyshyn doesn’t seem to be able to make it as a forward; maybe signing him as a dman might work. good speed and good size.

    Obviously i got my head buried in the sand; but what the heck happened with the Jets in Sami Niku?

  5. Drouin is very fortunate. For most people in the world, taking off work for a year would increase anxiety, not relieve it.

  6. Zach Senyshyn couldn’t score on my grandmas bridge club what waste of time and space.

    • Lol

    • Stick tap to your grandma and her buds.

      • Eichel’s on that bridge club too?

      • LOL! Way to go, Ray.

        By the by, I’m interested in your view of the B’s playoff chances this year …

      • I think they get in LJ and if they are playing well and healthy come TDL, they sell more futures for the now.

        Fine in net, fine on the blue line, deep on the wing. Question mark at C after Bergy, plus he ain’t no spring chicken so sooner or later he starts slowing down or injuries start.

        Still good and a playoff team IMO, but unless they add at TDL not a true contender. Which they might do if available. Not sure it will be at what they have to offer in return though.

        But hey, stuff happens so here’s hoping.

  7. It’s not just the Kachina logo making a comeback in Arizona, Alex Galchenyuk has been signed to a PTO.

  8. Sami Niku a L shot D who likes to play on the R, I can the Habs give him a PTO ater he clears.

  9. Good thing the Bruins got away from last seasons schedule ….they are much smaller and their lack of toughness would’ve been a problem ….. last 3 years they were taken out of the playoffs by bigger tougher teams …. Team is built for regular season only

    • Agree being tougher is good Joe, but they have been pretty successful in the playoffs last 3 years with 5 series wins.
      TB and Vegas had more for sure, not sure if anyone else has?