NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 5, 2022
Results of the All-Star skills competition plus Commissioner Gary Bettman talks about Flames and Coyotes arenas, Canadian teams, the 2022 Draft and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.com: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the hardest shot competition at 103.2 mph while St. Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou was the fastest skater with a time of 13.550 at the 2022 NHL All-Star skills competition in Las Vegas on Friday night.
Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho won the accuracy shooting in 10.937 seconds while Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell and Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy combined for nine consecutive saves in the Save Streak event.
Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski was the Las Vegas 21 in ’22 winner, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski won the Fountain Faceoff Challenge and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo won the Breakaway Challenge.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Pietrangelo, Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras should’ve won the breakaway challenge for his blindfolded Dodgeball trick shot routine. Honorable mention to Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov for mimicking his idol, Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin.
A stick tap as well for former USA Women’s star Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson for finishing third in the Fountain Faceoff, which saw the participants attempting to hit targets while standing on an island in the Bellagio Fountain. At one point, she led by hitting all of her targets in 16.253 seconds.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman endorsed the Arizona Coyotes plan to temporarily play at a 5,000-seat venue at Arizona State University, provided the club secures commitment to building a new arena at Tempe. Bettman made the remarks during a press conference along with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly prior to the skills competition yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes would spend at least the next three seasons at the ASU facility while awaiting the building of their new venue. This season is the last for the Coyotes at the Gila River Arena after the city of Glendale announced it was terminating the club’s lease.
Bettman also approved of the Calgary Flames decision to skate away from a new arena deal with the city of Calgary but stressed the club remains committed to the city despite the collapse of the agreement. He believes the team’s ownership worked hard to get a deal done but felt the city pushed too hard to include additional costs that the team would have to pick up. Bettman believes the sooner both sides figure out how to get a new arena the better given the long-term cost of maintenance at the aging Saddledome.
The commissioner also raised the possibility of the 2022 NHL Draft moving from Montreal to another location if the city and the province of Quebec remain under strict COVID regulations. The draft is scheduled for July 7-8, 2022 at the Bell Centre.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman also indicated the slow reopening of Canadian NHL arenas has affected the revenue of the Canadian teams, prompting some of them to look into playing games at other locations where COVID restrictions on attendance aren’t as strict. So far, the league isn’t going that route but that could change depending on how long the current Canadian restrictions remain in place.
Bettman announced the Florida Panthers will host the 2023 NHL All-Star Game, the 2023 Winter Classic will be hosted by the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park while the 2023 NHL Stadium Series will feature the Carolina Hurricanes at Carter-Finley Stadium.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Bettman excused Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz for his “emotional moment” during a Wednesday townhall when he lashed out at two reporters who asked what measures the club had implemented to protect its players in the aftermath of an investigation into the sexual assault allegations by former player Kyle Beach against Brad Aldrich, the club’s former video coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wirtz’s “emotional moment” was a PR disaster that has his critics questioning whether he should remain in his role.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Speaking of the Blackhawks, they continued conducting interviews for the vacant position of general manager with Kyle Davidson and Eric Tulsky. Davidson is currently their interim GM while Tulsky is assistant GM with the Carolina Hurricanes.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman announced Shawn Horcoff has taken over as assistant GM. He replaces Pat Verbeek, who was hired as the new general manager of the Anaheim Ducks.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s David Schoen reports Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer said Jack Eichel will be cleared for contact drills following the All-Star break.