NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2021

by | Sep 24, 2021 | News, NHL | 14 comments

The Sabres strip Jack Eichel of his captaincy, plus several stars are already sidelined or returning from injuries as training camps open. Check out the details in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams confirmed yesterday the club had stripped Jack Eichel of the captaincy. The 24-year-old center also failed his team physical and will be placed on injured reserve.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel and Sabres’ management remain in a standoff over which medical procedure he should receive to repair a herniated disc in his neck. He favors disc replacement surgery while the team doctors prefer fusion surgery. Adams also indicated the team is still open to trading Eichel at the right price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt any NHL fan or pundit is surprised by this news. It’s just another chapter in an impasse with no end in sight. There could be teams willing to let Eichel undergo disc replacement but they’re unwilling to pay the Sabres’ high asking price to acquire him.

Don’t expect to see Eichel on the ice this season unless one side blinks. I also don’t anticipate seeing him traded this season unless the Sabres drop their price. Even then, Eichel’s $10 million annual average value over the next five seasons is difficult for most teams to absorb even when he’s healthy.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss at least the first two months of this season recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee. The Penguins also have one unidentified player not yet fully vaccinated though he’s expected to be within the next few weeks.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said he’s been dealing with a nagging injury since prior to the 2020 NHL playoffs but downplayed the severity. He and GM Stan Bowman didn’t elaborate but said it was a common ailment among hockey players.

Meanwhile, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was back with his teammates in his first formal practice since missing all of last season with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. He’s hoping to be ready to play when the season opens next month.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Mike Hoffman are likely to miss training camp and the start of the season. Price is recovering from offseason knee surgery while Hoffman has been sidetracked by a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is listed as week-to-week due to ongoing rehabilitation on his hip. Meanwhile, teammate Evgeny Kuznetsov said he’s feeling good mentally and physically and ready to put a difficult 2020-21 season behind him.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck confirmed he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 20. He was unvaccinated at the time and took about 10 days to recover. He’s since been vaccinated but felt rushed into doing so in order to be ready for training camp so soon after recovering from the coronavirus.

I’m not anti-vax by any means,” he said. “But I’d like to have that decision for myself. It felt very forced on me.” He added the post-vaccination symptoms made him feel as though he had COVID again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck’s situation was unique and probably should’ve allowed him more leeway to become vaccinated so soon after recovering from COVID-19. NHL protocols would allow him to join his teammates under certain restrictions until he received his shots.

The league isn’t forcing its players to be inoculated. However, they face travel restrictions, additional testing, forfeiture of portions of their salaries if they miss playing time and social interaction limitations as a result.

Some might feel the NHL’s protocols are too restrictive. However, the league and the NHLPA don’t want a repeat of 2020-21 when multiple game postponements due to outbreaks of COVID-19 among several teams wreaked havoc on an already compressed schedule.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Center Tyler Seguin, winger Alexander Radulov and goaltender Ben Bishop were on the ice for the Stars’ opening day of training camp. Seguin missed all but three games last season to hip and knee surgeries. Radulov was sidelined most of last season by a core muscle injury requiring offseason surgery. Bishop, meanwhile, is hopeful of playing after missing all of last season to knee surgery.

CALGARY SUN: Flames center Sean Monahan revealed a hip injury bothered him for most of last season. He underwent offseason surgery and was on the ice for the club’s opening day of training camp.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Stefan Matteau and defenseman Roland McKeown had both tested positive for COVID-19 but are nearing the end of their recovery. Meanwhile, head coach Jared Bednar said defenseman Cale Makar underwent an upper-body procedure recently but isn’t expected to miss any practice or preseason time.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center Charlie Coyle began training camp yesterday wearing a non-contact red jersey. He’s coming off a pair of knee surgeries but is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken center Yanni Gourde took part in drills yesterday wearing a non-contact jersey. GM Ron Francis indicates Gourde could return to action sooner than expected from offseason shoulder surgery. He was originally expected to be sidelined until December.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltending coach Manny Legace revealed he was recently hospitalized fighting for his life with a severe case of COVID-19. He spent a week in intensive care before being released. He and his wife must now wait eight weeks before getting vaccinated as per CDC guidelines, something they had put off based on advice from doctors related to medical conditions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Legace and his wife for a speedy and complete recovery.

THE PROVINCE: An internal document shared with NHL teams earlier this week reveals the league believes 30 of its 32 teams could start the season with full capacity at their arenas. The exceptions are the Vancouver Canucks (50 percent) and the Montreal Canadiens (33 percent). The memo also revealed the various anticipated vaccine guidelines for all the franchises. 


  1. Hoping for a big season out of Charlie Coyle. He’s definitely got the wingers to feed for goals.

    • Chuck is not going to make difference he is not a second line centre. Sweeney fell flat on his face with this situation among others. I hope they fire this dumB@$$ out of Boston.

      • Good morning Rick!
        Hope so too SOP. Good 200′ player, competes hard, keeps it going in the playoffs.

        2nd line C offense hasn’t been there, but ya, you’re right now he has guys to help drive it.

        Key to success this year.

  2. Re: Eichel. I’m a little confused at Buffalo’s stance. I’m assuming they took out insurance on his contract and since he is on LTIR the insurance is paying him. In his current state he is untradeable and has no value. So let him get his preferred treatment for his condition (it is his body after all) and if it works then a team may be willing to cough up what Buffalo is asking. If it doesn’t work, then he will either need more surgery/treatment or his career may be over. If the insurance is picking up the tab then all they lose is the asset which they don’t have right now anyway.

    • 100% agree. There doesn’t seem to be any downside to letting him get the surgery he wants. If the team keeps fighting it, he will never play anyway. Might as well give the surgery a shot so that he can get his trade value back. Unless for some reason that surgical procedure is outside the parameters of insurance too.

      • Hi Foley

        I questioned that (insurance small print exclusions)

        Counting direct finances; Ins. company is the only loser here

        Eichel (HJ) gets packed d regardless

        Sabres indirectly lose gate rev and other HRR…. Not as competitive w/o HJ and/or replacement assets

        If HJ’s preferred surgery fails; and he can never play again…. Insurance company on hook for $50 M

        I’v asked before here whether there is an “exclusion” clause in the LTIR insurance policies? Anybody here know; or in the industry with some knowledge of same/similar?

        If so (exclusion clause) then Sabres would be on the hook for his Sal, IF he gets the surgery ; and IF it fails

        Re the de-frocking…. Had been rumoured ….so from that standpoint it wasn’t “out of the blue”…. But….

        To me, doesn’t that lower his value (as s commodity) still?

        Re him possibly not playing all year and possibly not traded… Sabres really screwed come 1/7/22…. Full NMC kicks in

        Adams, lower the price; gedderdone

      • Pengy I guess another question could be asked.

        If there is a trade partner how does their insurance view the Jack Eichel medical issue?

      • What a horrible year for Manny! First the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks at his home back on the 4th, and now this!

    • The situation sounds like a trade that needs to have ‘future considerations’. ie.- the solid part of the trade is something like a 1st and a player(or prospect) for Eichel. If Eichel plays 10 games they get another first and a prospect.

  3. Gino out at least 2 months now 💩🤬😡😭

    Common HexBurkie…. Do something

  4. Maybe a naive question, but what prevents Eichel from just having the disc replacement surgery on his own? Is there anything the Sabres could do about it other than to terminate his contract? Granted, that would be a lot of money to step away from, but if he’s so confident in the replacement surgery, then he shouldn’t be too worried about how he’d do as a free agent. I wouldn’t think the PR hit would be so bad if he just makes clear that it was a decision based on what’s best for his lifelong health.

    • He could get it done on his own, but if something goes wrong and he can’t play again, he’s out 50 mil.

  5. I see.

  6. Pat Hickey got it slightly wrong.
    The statement was that Price will miss training camp but will be ready for the start of the season in Toronto.
    Hoffman is to miss training camp and doubtful for the start of the season.

    Connor Hellebuyck “I’m not anti-vax by any means,” he said. “But I’d like to have that decision for myself”
    He did make the decision, he chose not get vaccinated, got Covid and took 10 days to recover.
    He wasn’t forced or rushed into anything, NHL protocols would allow him to join his teammates under certain restrictions until he received his shots and face travel restrictions, additional testing, forfeiture of portions of their salaries if they miss playing time and social interaction limitations as a result.

    He chose to try and have his cake and eat it too.

    Whomever it is that faces the risk of paying $50 million isn’t willing to take it and nobody is willing to assume the risk for them.