NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2022

by | Mar 29, 2022 | News, NHL | 39 comments

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passes away, the Hurricanes take over first place in the Eastern Conference, Vladimir Tarasenko reaches a scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passed away late Monday following a long illness. His enduring legacy was buying the Senators in 2003 and maintaining the franchise in Ottawa. In 2015, Melnyk underwent a life-saving liver transplant. With his help, the Senators Community Foundation invested over $100 million in local charities and community programs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Melnyk’s family and the Senators’ organization. The hockey world is mourning his passing, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Senators captain Brady Tkachuk among the first to pay tribute.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk dies at age 62 (NHL.com).

The Senators were among the NHL’s top teams during Melnyk’s early years of ownership, reaching the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. After exceeding expectations to reach the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, the club spent the following years rebuilding its roster.

Melnyk often faced criticism from Senators fans over the club’s direction, especially in recent years. He received his share of the blame for the departures of popular stars such as Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson. The outspoken Senators owner also threatened to move the club several years ago if the club’s attendance didn’t improve.

Nevertheless, the Senators would’ve probably relocated to an American city in 2003 if Melnyk hadn’t stepped in to purchase the franchise. It’ll be up to his successor and the club’s current management to ensure the current rebuilding program achieves his dream of turning the Senators into a Stanley Cup contender.


NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 6-1 to take over first place in the Eastern Conference with 95 points, one ahead of the Florida Panthers. Martin Necas scored two goals and added an assist while Frederik Andersen made 25 saves for the win. The Capitals (84 points) remain three points behind the Boston Bruins, who hold the first Eastern wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes weren’t happy over a hit on forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi by Capitals center Lars Eller late in the game. Kotkaniemi’s left leg appeared to be injured. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t know the extent of the injury following the game but commented it didn’t look good. No word if Eller will face supplemental discipline.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko reached his 500th career point in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Tarasenko scored twice and chipped in an assist while Ville Husso turned in a 35-save performance. With 81 points, the Blues sit in third place in the Central Division. The Canucks (73 points) remain three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: David Perron also reached a Blues milestone, joining Brett Hull and Scott Young as the third player in franchise history to score at least 12 goals in a calendar month.

The Edmonton Oilers bounced back from a 9-5 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday by thumping the Arizona Coyotes 6-1. Ryan McLeod tallied twice and picked up an assist, Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist and Mikko Koskinen got the win by kicking out 31 shots. The Oilers sit in third place in the Pacific Division, two points back of the second-place Los Angeles Kings.

Speaking of the Kings, they fell 6-1 to the Seattle Kraken. Chris Driedger stopped 36 Kings shots while teammate Vince Dunn collected two assists. It was the 1,000th career NHL game for Kings coach Todd McLellan, who became the seventh active coach to reach that milestone.

The Buffalo Sabres rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 with Tage Thompson netting the game-winner in the final seconds of the third period. Sabres winger Victor Olofsson scored twice and picked up an assist.


NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot, Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 27, 2022.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld a one-game suspension to Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter for a slashing infraction on March 18.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered from a high hit by the Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno during the Jackets’ 3-2 loss to the Wild on Saturday.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture suffered a bruised lung when he was struck by a shot by teammate Brent Burns during last Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. He missed Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks but will return to the lineup on Wednesday to face the Arizona Coyotes.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Over a week after being traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Colorado Avalanche, Artturi Lehkonen’s immigration paperwork has been processed and he can finally join his new teammates.


  1. Condolences out to the Melnyk family and Sens fans.

  2. R.I.P. Mr. Melnyk. Without you the team would have long been re-located.

    Love this excerpt from Garrioch’s article in the Ottawa Sun this morning:

    After acquiring centre Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche in November 2018 and returning from a successful trip to Sweden, the Senators’ fortunes quickly took a turn for the worse. Tough decisions then had to made. It wasn’t easy to accept, but Melnyk and Dorion put in place a plan they felt would pay dividends if people were patient.

    That was also why, when he sat down with Dorion in Barbados in February 2018, they made the decision to start from the ground up. It meant some players would be offered the opportunity to stay, while others would have to be sent packing.
    “Nobody’s done what I did. I don’t care what anybody says,” Melnyk said. “Nobody has gone and gutted a team the way I did. We made a list … the top six guys gone. Show me a team, in any sport, where the top six guys are gone. This was specifically designed. You had to be a certain age to be part of it.

    “Could we upgrade? On a scale of one to 10, we were about an eight when we lost to Pittsburgh. I think we could have won a Stanley Cup if we’d gotten by Pittsburgh. The bottom line was the team itself had to be upgraded, and the only way I felt we could do this … and we took a shot. From there, we methodically started going through the lineup.”

    • RIP Mr Melnyk .

      • respect …. Godspeed Eugene

    • 2017 was an absolute heartbreaker for Rangers fans.

      NY lead on the scoreboard all but 13 minutes heading into game 6. How you lose a series like that will be a mystery forever to me.

    • Yeah, OK. Whatever

    • So now what? Is there gonna be new owners? Are they keeping the team there? I guess it’s a bit soon but still lots of questions there for me.

    • When you have to point to multiple excuses as to why, it looks exactly like that. Excuses.

  3. Re Oil

    5 goals in 6 of last 8 games; 7-2-1 (last 10)… starting to roll.

    Next game (Kings) big re standings and pursuit of home-ice adv. for first round…. 4 pt. Games always exciting

    Kings 4-4-2 last 10

    Pens need serious rebound effort v Blueshirts (another 4 point game tonight)…. play like they did v Wings; CR out, Friedman in… good shot @ a V

    Leafs v Bruins (identical 41-19-5 records)…. Another 4 point game… this will be a “gentleman’s “ game…… not. I expect Swayman in…. Adv. should be with Bruins

    Bolts v Canes tonight…. ECF preview???

    Tonight will have some very meaningful games

    • I wouldn’t read too much in to the Carolina-TB game Pengy. It’s the second of a back-to-back for Carolina, probably meaning a goalie change and a period-and-a-half to “find their legs” – something like the Florida-Leafs game the other night when Bobrovsky played the night before in Ottawa.

      They won’t see in the playoffs and even if they did it’d be the same for both teams.

      • Not quite the same as both the Leafs and Panthers played the night before ad you mentioned with the Panthers and both playing their number two goalie.

      • Quite true Ron. Except that Toronto didn’t have access to their # 1 goalie, so it was Mrazek or a rookie. And Mrazak played a hell of a game.

        Florida, on the other hand, and when looking at the standings, could have gone for 4 points by starting Knight against a bottom-feeder then come back with Bobrovsky against the Leafs.

        Just thought it was curious as to why they went the other way.

      • Hi George

        sorry if I inferred that the Canes/Bolt tilt tonight would be reflective of how they would play in the post-season… I was just pointing out that these two teams could very well meet in the ECF

        To me, as at now— ECF likely to be one of the two FLA based franchises v Canes

        Upsets can and will happen; that is just my gut feeling as at now

        Would I love a Leafs v Pens ECF— yep…. but that is just sooooo far out there ; to even be considered.

    • Pengy, when you say Pittsburgh should “play like they did v Wings …” the problem is, I don’t see the Rangers playing like Detroit 🙂

      • Not a chance Rangers play like Detroit

        Rangers are a very good team; and did not play last night!!!

        To beat them— Pens must play 60 mins and with the full-on attack that they showed in the Wings game

        Shesterkin already has “shut the front door” written all over him…. Pens need to break through that front door and completely avoid the mistakes of the previous Rangers game

        Outcome of game certainly might be indicative of play in the first 5 minutes of game

        Pens just can’t come out like they did last game v Blueshirts

      • Was just poking fun Pengy. The thing is, though, I doubt the Rangers LET Pittsburgh play the way they did against Detroit – the Penguins can expect a) better goaltending and b) a LOT closer checking.

        The Red Wings played like they couldn’t wait to get back to their X-boxes.

    • Pengy yes its be announced Swayman will start.

      This should be a playoff like atmosphere and i good game.

      That means it will be a blow out and send the losing team fans into a frenzy and the sky will fall.

      • Game in Bos

        Swayman starting

        Leafs goaltending still not up to par

        …. I’m certainly not betting on Leafs to win

        can they— possible

        Likely— hard for me to say that

    • Went to the Oilers & Arizona game last night & yes they redeemed them self.. d was good but Not Great last night…..
      Two players that Realy stood outfor me on the Oilers were

      1- New d/man & Loacal boy Brent Kulak, i seen him play for the Habs and liked his game, this kid can skate, he played a great game last night only made one mistake but he has fit right in on the LD Position he is the oilers 2nd best LD right now it was a weak position for the oil so far this season

      2- Young Ryan McLeod 1st year Oilers who can play Centre & Wing… last night he did both this kid can FLY….❗️
      On his 2nd goal i was watching the oiler d,
      2 seconds later when i retured to the puck….I thought it was McDavid with how Fast he was going when he blew past the 2 d/men Right in Front of us and put it in…. it all happend so Very Fast all the fans in our section were WoW….. &
      Yes it was McLeod with #97 Speed to Burn and such a Great Finish….

      When Woody the New Coach got hear he said after a couple of week give the young guys some time and we got some Great young players coming up but we got a few hear already give them time to adjust
      who was he talking about..⁉️.

      F -Mcleod…hear to stay.
      G -Skinner…next years back up 100% with a New #1
      d/man-Bromberg…we think he is a full season away
      d/man- Nemo…. Niemeläinen…. he could be 6-7 d/man next year?

      • I’m not sure how much stock I’d put into a game against the worst team in the league.

        Arizona is last in the standings. Have the fewest goals for in the league , ranked 32nd , and ranked 29th in goals against.

        A win is a win is a win. But this isn’t a good team to measure up against.

      • Oil easily won a game they should have won easily. But still gotta do it unlike the team they are chasing who lost to SEA at home 6-1 last night.

        Seems like the new structure isn’t completely baked in and disappeared under stress from Calgary. So not a finished product by any means, but playing much better overall since changes.

        Will see as we go.

        Agree totally on McLeod Willie, Oil might just have themselves a valuable guy. Nice to see him get rewarded as he has been driving the play for a while but not finishing. Can play with the big guys when he gets a chance as well. Question is where is the best place to play him short term. I get the 4th line as he keeps it competitive, defends and brings some quick strike ability, but when he got moved up with top guys when we had some injuries, he looked really good.

        He is on the PK now as well as 2nd PP (which gets very little time usually). Good on him.

        I can see him moving all over the lineup, see where it goes, no point pigeon holing this guy.

  4. I took a look at Eller’s hit on Kotkaniemi. Honestly, I don’t think it was even a penalty. Eller never left his feet. If that’s called charging there would be at least 50 charging calls per game.
    The point of contention is obviously throwing a hit with only seconds left in a one sided game. But as we always like to say, the same rules are in place from the opening faceoff till the final siren sounds. Eller is not considered a dirty player.

    • Yeah I guess with 1.8 seconds left in the game and Eller comes full speed to make a hit for whatever reason…..yeah that’s not dirty. Of course if that was your team’s player that got injured you would be singing a different tune. The game is basically over but let’s take out one of the other team’s players just for the hell of it. I saw the hit also and it was dirty….period.

      • The hit might have been a little high. Other than that, i dont see an issue. Professionals should play whistle to whistle, regardless of the score. Keep your head up, the game is dangerous.

      • The hit was fine and wasn’t at full speed, not even close. KK didn’t see him coming, but this wasn’t come across the ice from 30′ away like Wilson type thing.
        Only issue was the one Harold brought up, only a few seconds left in a blow out.
        Fair enough, I get that point, if you assume Eller was clock watching.
        I would bet $20 the “no quit” talk going on on the WAS bench from the players and the coaches. Eller was doing his job, knee got twisted, unfortunate, hope it isn’t serious.

      • I don’t believe the hit was high or dirty. The only issue would be that it was near the end of a game whose outcome was not in dispute. Neither player plays for my team so I can be objective.

      • Howard, didn’t mean to call you Harold, was just talking to a Harold before I came on here.

      • The only reason to hit a player is to separate the man from the puck. If the player wasn’t a threat with 1.8 seconds left then it was a stupid play.

      • The hit was totally legal and if the timing upsets people, consider that Kotkaniemi could have let the puck go instead of playing it.

        Its unfortunate that he got hurt but Eller is not a dirty player and its more about Kotkaniemi being gangly legged

    • Ray
      I agree with you, he is slotting in where ever coach woody needs him to go as a first year Oilers thats nice to have…
      He was also Slow to get ajusted in Bakerfeild when he got there it was his 2nd year he really got going down there in the AHL❗️

      Next year we may see in on Leons line driving the play there like connor dose on his line.. but Mac is young and learning….

      I love the big guy and would love for him to get going at last…. Re; Jesse Puljujärvi …..
      is coming on very slow not a lot of consistency there yet…? they may end up moving him to the 3rd line if he dose not get going and Mac will take his spot🤔.

      The other young guy Yamo is playing Great the last 9-10 games but the first 50 he was very inconsistent with his play… lots of chatter he may get traded hopefully he stays healthy and plays well the final 20 games….⁉️

  5. Here’s hoping the Sens stay put and keep getting better. The Battle of Ontario was a lot of fun at one time.

    • Melnyk, for all his perceived (and in some cases imagined) faults, stayed loyal to the city despite the roadblocks thrown up to a new downtown arena led by our soon-to-be-ex mayor (who would rather have built a downtown library – yeah, that’ll really draw them in – to go along with his multi-million $ light-rail boondoggle).

      It isn’t clear who, in the family, takes charge as the go-to “owner” – but regardless of who it is, only time will tell if they remain that loyal.

      • On TSN they said that Melnyk was grooming his oldest daughter to take over. He also had previously set everything up to keep the Sens in the family for generations.

      • Let’s hope so KevJam … but what we don’t know is whether or not they share the same passion as their dad … for the immediate future I don’t see them selling off … but who knows down the road

      • Grooming them to take over what?

        DEBT. A lot of debt. Daughter one, or daughter two or some combination may receive a bit better treatment from local businesses….for a little while…..

        I dunno. I’m worried about the Sens now that he’s gone. A savvy Houston investor swoops in, offers her a plum price, gets NHL approval and buhbye.

      • George, Detroit has gone through a similar situation when Mr. I passed and his son took over the day to day operations. Chris does not appear to be as into hockey as his father but he seems to be as supportive of the team as his father. I believe the hiring of Steve Yzerman was to have someone to run the team and handle all the details so Chris can be a hands off owner. Can hope things work out as well for Ottawa with whoever takes over and that the Sens stay put for many years to come.

      • I thought the Sens turned a profit pre covid, not a rich team by any means by weren’t losing $.
        Obviously the last couple years hurt that, but he was a billionaire so the kids should be OK.
        The team was also purchased for $92M, and last I saw Forbes had it valued at $450M in 2020. Don’t know what it is now.

        The math isn’t too bad from that standpoint.

        I heard on the radio that the older daughter is only 25, so I would think there is a succession/transition plan in place that will last quite a few years.

        Hope they stay.

      • AzWingsFan and Ray – I tend to agree with DarkG in that, at some point down the road, a savvy investor will pop in and make them an offer they can’t refuse.

        If that happens I just hope it’s that one-time owner of Le Cirque du Soleil who attempted to buy the team before as recently as 2018. Guy Laliberté was also interested in the development of a downtown arena which would also be utilized as an off-season training home for Le Cirque acts.


  6. Condolences to the Melnyk family and the Ottawa Senators organization.

    What does this unfortunate passing mean to the Senators?