NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 2, 2021
Commissioner Bettman publicly apologizes to Kyle Beach while attempting to defend the league’s disciplinary actions in the Blackhawks scandal, NHLPA votes for an independent investigation of its role in the scandal, the Rangers re-sign Adam Fox & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
BETTMAN DEFENDS LEAGUE’S HANDLING OF BLACKHAWKS SCANDAL, NHLPA VOTES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO ITS ROLE IN THE SCANDAL
TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman publicly apologized yesterday to Kyle Beach for what he endured since he alleged he was sexually assaulted by former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich in 2010 during a video conference call with the media.
Bettman also defended the league fining the Blackhawks $2 million, allowing Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville to be behind the bench during last Wednesday’s game after the report was released regarding his role in the coverup (Quenneville stepped down as Panthers coach following a meeting with Bettman on Thursday), and absolving Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff for what the commissioner considered his minor role in the process.
Bettman said he felt Cheveldayoff, who was the Blackhawks assistant GM at the time, was a “minor player” in the affair who thought the allegations would be handled and properly resolved by his superiors. He believed Cheveldayoff wasn’t in a position to speak out because he didn’t have access to the information about the situation.
Reporters questioned Bettman about the Blackhawks’ fine when the league fined the New Jersey Devils $3 million for violating salary cap rules in signing Ilya Kovalchuk and in docking the Arizona Coyotes two draft picks last year for violation of the draft combine rules. “Different context, different facts,” Bettman replied.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That press conference was certainly not Bettman’s shining moment. He was roasted in the media and on social media for his responses and actions in dealing with this scandal. His answers were beyond disappointing.
Daily Faceoff’s Scott Burnside believes the league seems more concerned with rationalizing their criticized responses rather than having a frank and open discussion about the problems the scandal unveiled. The Athletic’s Sean Gentille felt Bettman’s goal was protecting the league, its owners and its money. “Doing the right thing…is somewhere down the list”, he wrote.
Gentille also took note of Bettman’s response when asked if the league would reach out to Sheldon Kennedy, a former player, sexual assault survivor and advocate against abuse, bullying, harassment and discrimination in hockey. “Sheldon’s experience was not at the NHL level,” replied the commissioner. Kennedy told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun the league and the NHLPA has never reached out to him over his two decades of tireless work that has earned him several honors, including the Order of Canada.
Sportsnet’s Luke Fox summarized Bettman’s performance: “Manage the situation. Cloud it with lawyer-speak. Move forward.” He also reported deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league had closed its investigation of Bill Peters and had been in touch with the representatives of former player Akim Aliu, who was the victim of alleged racial taunts by Peters years ago. Aliu’s representative Ben Meiselas denied the league has contacted him.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported NHL players voted for an independent investigation by outside legal counsel in response to the NHLPA’s mishandling of the alleged sexual assault suffered by Beach. PA executive director Donald Fehr made the recommendation for the investigation. While Fehr is reportedly under fire for his handling of Beach’s allegations and concerns, Seravalli said there was little discord among the 80 players who took part in the call yesterday.
NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl had two goals and two assists as the Edmonton Oilers rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Draisaitl (17 points) is tied for the scoring lead with Connor McDavid, who picked up an assist to extend his points streak to eight games.
Patrick Kane tallied a hat trick as the Chicago Blackhawks downed the Ottawa Senators 5-1 to pick up their first win of the season. Jonathan Toews collected three assists and Brandon Hagel scored twice for the Blackhawks (1-7-2).
The Tampa Bay Lightning got 31 saves by Andrei Vasilevskiy to hold off the Washington Capitals 3-2. Anthony Cirelli had two points for the Lightning, who snapped the Capitals’ eight-game points streak.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed Adam Fox to a seven-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9.5 million. Fox, 23, became just the second sophomore defenseman to win the Norris Trophy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox left some money on the table. His Norris Trophy win last season gave him ample justification to seek over $10 million annually considering the $9 million AAV Cale Makar accepted this summer with the Colorado Avalanche.
This move ensures the Rangers have their best blueliner under contract through the prime years of his career. It also leaves the Blueshirts with a bit of a salary-cap crunch for next season. The Post indicates they’ll have about $11.6 million available under a projected $82.5 million cap for 2022-23. They’ll need to re-sign or replace second-line center (and pending UFA) Ryan Strome and backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Meanwhile, promising winger Kaapo Kakko is in the final season of his entry-level contract.
NHL.COM: Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson, and Lightning winger Alex Killorn are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 31, 2021.
NBC SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson will be sidelined for about six weeks with a broken foot. The Golden Knights have already lost forward Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Alex Tuch and Nolan Patrick to injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the Golden Knights’ rumored trade talks with the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Max Domi is quarantined in New York after a positive COVID-19 test.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi can’t catch a break. He returned sooner than expected from offseason shoulder surgery and from a fractured rib suffered earlier in the season.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks added Kevin Labanc to the COVID-19 protocol list. Currently, seven Sharks players, including Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, are on the list along with head coach Bob Boughner.
It was a busy day for the Montreal Canadiens. They sent struggling winger Cole Caufield to the minors, announced defenseman Joel Edmundson suffered a setback in his recovery from an undisclosed injury and is 10 -14 days from returning, and learned Cedric Paquette received a two-game suspension for boarding Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield entered this season considered a favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year following his strong performance in the 2021 playoffs. He and his teammates have struggled to score thus far. The Habs are hoping the 20-year-old winger can regain his scoring touch with their AHL affiliate in Laval.
THE PROVINCE: Travis Hamonic has returned to the Vancouver Canucks lineup after missing training camp and the start of the season dealing with a personal issue. He’s expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the near future.