NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2022
The Avalanche take Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, highlights of Commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual state of the league press conference, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Andre Burakovsky’s overtime goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.
Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin each had a goal and an assist while Mikko Rantanen collected two assists for the Avalanche, who took a 3-1 lead into the second period. Nick Paul, Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev replied for the Lightning, who rallied to tie the game and force overtime.
Game 2 will be on Saturday, June 19, at 8 pm ET in Denver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re in store for a very entertaining, fast-paced series if Game 1 is any indication. The Avalanche dominated the play in the first period and much of the third, while the Lightning once again showed their poise and experience by overcoming that early deficit in the second period. Penalty killing was crucial for the Avs as they successfully killed off three shorthanded situations.
The Lightning’s Brayden Point made his long-expected return to the lineup from a lower-body injury suffered in the first round. Avalanche center Nazem Kadri remains sidelined with a thumb injury with no timetable for his return.
NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league generated record revenues projected to exceed $5.2 billion as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. He anticipates more significant increases to the salary cap within the next two-three years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per the NHL-NHLPA Memorandum of Understanding from 2020, the salary cap will increase by $1 million annually until the players have paid back their overage of hockey-related revenue still owed to the owners for 2019-20 and 2020-21.
THE ATHLETIC: Bettman indicated the 2022-23 season will return to a normal calendar schedule beginning on Oct. 11.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league doesn’t believe at this point that there need to be changes made to the long-term injury reserve system. It had been discussed during the general managers’ meeting in March with an idea of a playoff salary cap.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That came about over complaints of teams garnering a salary-cap advantage by placing a player on long-term injury reserve, using the cap relief to add players for the postseason, only to see the LTIR player return to action in the playoffs.
The insinuation was that some teams may be attempting to circumvent the cap by leaving players on LTIR when they may be healthy enough to return to action. However, the league hasn’t found any instance where this was the case.
Daly also said the league has begun its investigation of a sexual assault lawsuit filed against Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). The suit alleges eight players, including some members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior team, sexually assaulted a young woman in 2018.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the players on that team are now in the NHL. It has yet to be determined whether any of them were among those who assaulted the woman.
NHL.COM: Daly said the league is “very optimistic” that it will be able to stage a World Cup of Hockey tournament in February 2024. Discussions between the NHL, NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation are ongoing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like the idea of a World Cup of Hockey in February rather than September as in previous years. After all, if the league was prepared to shuttered the season for two weeks to accommodate Olympic participation, they can do it for a World Cup.
Unlike the Olympics, the league and the players would reap the financial benefits from a World Cup. The players would be in midseason game shape, making for a better tournament and drawing more potential fans to the game.
DAILY FACEOFF: Daly indicated the players on the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning have been informed that the winner of this year’s Stanley Cup Final will not be allowed to take the Cup to Russia or Belarus in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Three Lightning players – Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Vasilevskiy – are from Russia while Valeri Nichushkin is the only Russian-born Avalanche player. There are no Belarussians on either club.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Daly also said the arbitration on Evander Kane’s contract termination grievance with the San Jose Sharks may not be resolved until July 13, which is the start of the NHL’s free agent period. The arbitrator assigned to the case isn’t available to conduct the hearing until next month.
Kane is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. If his case remains unresolved by then, it’s not expected to prevent him from signing another contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will have significant implications for the Sharks. They will have $7 million in salary-cap limbo until such time as Kane’s case is resolved.
It could also affect Kane’s efforts to sign with another club. Interested parties could prefer to await the outcome of his hearing before making offers to him.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: There won’t be any changes in how NHL teams report injuries. It was assumed the league’s partnership with gambling outlets would lead to more specific information being released on player injuries other than “upper-body” or “lower-body.”
OTTAWA SUN: It’s expected the NHL Board of Governors will be informed today that it is business as usual for the Senators since the passing of team owner Eugene Melnyk in March. The club continues to be run by a board of directors and a professional management group while Melnyk’s daughters do their due diligence on the franchise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the club isn’t being sold and it won’t be relocated to another city.
Speaking of the Senators, they signed center Dylan Gambrell to a one-year, $950K contract extension.
TSN: The agent for Johnny Gaudreau denied a report claiming his client had reached an agreement on a long-term extension with the Calgary Flames. “There is no truth to it,” said Lewis Gross.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed negotiations are ongoing between the Flames and the Gaudreau camp. Both sides agreed at the start of this season that they would keep those discussions out of the media.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Daniil Tarasov to a three-year contract extension worth a total of $3.15 million.