NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2022
The All-Star Skills participants are announced, more bad headlines for the Blackhawks, the Ducks name Pat Verbeek as their new general manager, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I underwent surgery on Thursday to repair tendon damage in my right wrist. I will attempt to provide daily updates to the site as usual during my 10-14 day convalescence but my usual comments on notable headlines and trade/free agent rumors could be shorter and fewer. Some of you will probably be thankful for that (insert wink emoji here.). Anyway, please bear with me if uploads are a little later than usual over the next week or two.
Now, on to today’s headlines…
NHL.COM: The participants in the 2022 NHL All-Star skill competitions were announced yesterday.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin are among those taking part in the Fastest Skater competition. Hardest shot participants include Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier.
The Breakaway challenge features Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat and Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau will take part in the Accuracy Shooting. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Carolina Hurricanes netminder Frederik Andersen and Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros are among the participants in the Save Streak competition.
Two new events include the Fountain Faceoff at the famed Fountains of Bellagio where participants attempt to shoot pucks into five targets in the shortest period of time and the Las Vegas NHL 21 in ’22. That event is a twist on blackjack in which players will shoot at a rack of oversized playing cards hoping to reach 21 without going bust in the least amount of shots.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux and Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone will take part in the Fountain Faceoff. Participants in the NHL 21 in ’22 event include Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz and CEO Danny Wirtz released statements yesterday regarding the chairman berating two reporters during a Wednesday town hall. Rocky became upset with a question directed to Danny over what steps the franchise has taken to prevent a situation like 2010 from happening amid the Kyle Beach allegations.
Rocky apologized for his outburst and praised Danny and his staff for the work they have done to improve the culture and the team. Danny, meanwhile, elaborated on the steps his club has taken in implementing policies, programs and training regarding mental health, culture and investigating incidents of non-compliance.
SPORTSNET: Three more people are considering lawsuits against the Blackhawks related to the Brad Aldrich scandal. Aldrich was the former Blackhawks video coach who Beach alleged sexually assaulted him in 2010.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to take time to undo the damage Rocky Wirtz’s tantrum did to the Blackhawks’ efforts to move on in a positive way from the fallout of the investigation into Beach’s allegations. Critics are already questioning his fitness to lead the club.
TSN (via THE SCORE): Speaking of the Blackhawks, they will be interviewing Peter Chiarelli for the vacant post of general manager. Chiarelli won a Stanley Cup as GM of the Boston Bruins in 2011 but his subsequent tenure with the Edmonton Oilers was nowhere near as successful as the club struggled to reach the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli will be just one of several candidates the Blackhawks will interview.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks officially introduced Pat Verbeek as their new general manager.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what plans Verbeek has in store for the Ducks before the trade deadline and in the offseason. The rebuilding club has exceeded expectations and is in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference.
CBS SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes forward Johan Larsson underwent sports hernia surgery and will be sidelined for eight weeks.
TSN (via THE SCORE): Pierre LeBrun reports there’s a strong possibility the 2024 World Cup of Hockey takes place in February of that month rather than September. It would be the first to be staged in the middle of a season.