NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 25, 2021

by | Sep 25, 2021 | News, NHL | 13 comments

The league will enforce stricter rules for cross-checking, the Olympic schedule is set, plus the latest on Ryan Johansen, Erik Johnson, Joe Thornton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: The NHL intends to crack down on cross-checking this season. The focus will be on three specific areas of the rink: along the boards, in front of the net, and in open ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rule changes are drawing a mixed reaction from players. As always, I’m skeptical as to how tightly enforced these changes will be. I fear we’ll see the usual pattern develop whenever such changes regarding on-ice infractions are implemented: closely called early in the season before drifting back to the previous standard over the course of the schedule.

NHL.COM: The men’s hockey schedule for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics has been released. It begins on Feb. 9 with Russia (also known as the “Russian Olympic Committee”) versus Switzerland, the Czech Republic facing off against Denmark and Sweden taking on Latvia.

Feb. 10 sees Canada squaring off against Germany, the United States against China, Finland going up against Slovakia, and Denmark taking on the “Russian Olympic Committee”.

The tournament ends on Feb. 19 with the medal games. The gold medal game begins at 11:10 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canada vs Germany features Edmonton Oilers teammates Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl facing off against each other for the first time in Olympic hockey. That’s an early must-watch for me in this tournament.

The “Russian Olympic Committee” will hereafter be referred to as the “ROC” by me throughout the Olympics. The gold medal game starts after midnight my time, meaning my Keurig will be getting a workout that night.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Joe Thornton and Anton Lundell were absent from Florida Panthers training camp yesterday. Thornton was dealing with a minor sprain while Lundell missed his second straight day with an undisclosed ailment.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen is hoping for a big bounce-back year following two sub-par seasons.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson and goaltender Pavel Francouz are trying to put their lost seasons’ behind them. Injuries limited Johnson to just four games in 2020-21 while Francouz was sidelined the entire season.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider hopes to make his NHL debut this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A highly-touted prospect, Seider could be a Calder Memorial Trophy candidate if he cracks the lineup and plays well in 2021-22.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a high-ankle sprain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unfortunate setback for Samberg, who was expected to become a regular on the Jets blueline this season.

Calgary Flames prospect forward Connor Zary is listed as week-to-week with a fractured ankle after blocking a shot in a rookie game earlier this week.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens signed defenseman Sami Niku to a one-year, two-way contract. Earlier this week, the 24-year-old Niku agreed to a mutual termination of his contract with the Winnipeg Jets.

THE ATHLETIC: The New Jersey Devils hope to convince their one unvaccinated player to change his mind and join their other 49 players in camp who are vaccinated against COVID-19.

THE SCORE: The Washington Capitals will be the first NHL club to feature ads on their jerseys starting in 2022-23 after agreeing to a multi-year deal with Caesars Sportsbook.


  1. “Along the boards, in front of the net, and in open ice…” that’s not three specific areas, that’s the description of a hockey rink. Gotta love theScore

    • It’s not The Score, SCJ. It’s the areas the league actually indicated they’re targeting with this rule change.

  2. With you Lyle…. Biggest fear…. Flood of calls early , then eventually back to the mess that was the end of the season

    Call it consistently , game 1 through triple OT game 7 of SCF;

    Call it consistently in each period

    Call it consistently reffing crew to reffing crew, arena to arena

    If the call it all the time consistently and throughout, offences will dwindle, injuries wane, the game overall improves

    Fingers crossed

    Habs/Niku ….I posted yesterday…. Great low risk move by Habs….. absolute worst case is that Habs overspend on an AHLer for one year… possible upside is a rebounding young NHLer out to prove himself, that Habs got without giving up an assets….. this is better than teams retaining salary on a to-through to gain a 3rd rounder (future, unknown, not under contract)…. Kudos GMMB👍👍👍

    Niku…. The most he loses is maybe $130 K take home (full year in AHL)….will be motivated with a fresh start👍👍👍

    • Amen Pengy, amen! All fans and players really want is that kind of consistency. The technology exists to video review and coach up the officials. Better train them and discipline them too if needed. The game will adjust but until it improves it can be rough to get new fans excited when they see all of that it confuses them.

  3. Cross checking along the boards is already covered and called and players have adjusted by showing their numbers to get a call.

    Open ice cross checking isn’t something that needs a crackdown as it isn’t so common and does get called.

    Net front cross checking as explained isn’t the big adjustment as it sounds as they are referring to movement from the dots to the net and not the crease infighting.

    The refs regularly shout out warnings to players who are battling to keep the game flowing hopefully these “changes” are to one shot hits and not battles.

    I wish they’d do a better crackdown on head shots

    • The warnings are the problem. It gets everyone to push the limits. Slashes and cross checked injure players big-time. There is also no need for either. Allowing it to happen and constantly warning players keeps the standard in flux therein lies the problem Pengy nailed it above. Be consistent period and force your peers to be the same.
      When you think about it no different than cops, one shift/squad pulls everyone over for speeding the next one gives warnings, the next ignores it. Makes no sense they all read the same rules and report to the same bosses….the people will adjust when it is consistent otherwise it is organized chaos.

    • I still picture the Sharks Cup run when massive Brett Burns repeatedly just crosschecked everyone thru everyone round without a care in the world or a ref’s whistle to be called. Pointless to let that go and have it become part of ‘playoff’ hockey. You let it go sometimes but not like they do

  4. I have officiated minor hockey for many years and like when we cracked down on obstruction calls 10-15 years ago cracking down on cross checking is a necessary evil. I personally call cross checking tighter than most. The cross checking that was let go in the NHL last year was ridiculous! So a small little hook across blue line that causes no pain or damage instant 2min penalty but a cross check that takes a star player out for period or game with injury is fine play on makes no sense. @Lyle there are times where the Refs drift back to old habits however I believe if it’s called tight for long period like the slash rule a few years ago the players are smart and know they can no longer Cross check a certain way. As with obstruction in minor hockey, ohl, ahl, NHL it is way down however you get the odd game where it has to be called tight and you see crazy amounts of penalties. Example In minor hockey same two teams play monday and Friday of same week one game I I call 2 minors a team other game I call 10 calls a team. to the untrained officiating eye in the stands parents or fan you may say that ref is horrible or he is resorting back to old ways but unfortunately hockey players are weird ducks and some days forget the rules or something happened early in the game emissions take over and they can’t control hooks, slash, cross check, etc… You would be very surprised when you see the same teams or players how much there restraint to take penalties changes game to game. However, you get the odd team or player who is extremely discipline and hardly ever take penalties or on the other hand a guy who just can’t control himself. The average hockey player runs on emotion and adrenaline and can control for the most part but when animal brain and instincts take over that cross check penalty is inevitable LOL.

  5. It’s not perfect but the NHL has a lot less hooking and holding now. Cross-checking? Could take a while. Net-front defence?
    I agree that head shots need to be eliminated. It will be interesting to see how the cross-check evolves over time.

  6. So basically Bettman says the league officials are the best in the world and its the hockey players who are the problem so the refs are now needed to crack down on…wait for it…penalties they should already be calling.

    Typical Bettman nonsense.

    While the matchups/lineups for the Olympics might be fun to look at, I certainly won’t be watching it.

  7. Some of these cross check we have witness are just brutal attacks.

    I always found it odd, when a play by play guy would say. “The ref let him have the first two but the third one was one to many”

    Call the book as written, then you won’t have to manage the game, the game will manage itself.

  8. What is the net front supposed to be like when the unwritten rules are dropped and the calls are made by the book?

    Forwards can park at the crease without being touched , unhindered to deflect or simply move around taking away the goalies eyes.

    By the book, touching the forward is interference, slashing, cross checking, you name it with the defencemen unable to do anything but try to block shots.

    There are egregious infractions and that’s where the NHL needs to find consistency in penalising them.

  9. The rule is very simple and has always been simple for all penalties. IF THE REFEREE DOESN’T CALL IT, IT AIN’T NO PENALTY