NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 22, 2022
The legacy of Carey Price, Nicklas Backstrom opens up about his hip injury, Nazem Kadri expectation for the Flames, and an update on Anton Khudobin in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin believes Carey Price will retire as a legend if he’s unable to play again. The 35-year-old Montreal Canadiens goaltender is expected to miss the upcoming season due to a chronic knee injury that threatens to end his playing career.
Price is the Canadiens’ goaltending franchise leader with 712 games played, 361 wins, shot against (21,059), saves (19,304) and minutes played (42,005). He’s also fifth all-time with a .917 save percentage, eighth in goals-against average (2.51) and third in shutouts with 49.
Larkin suggests Price could be a first-ballot inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In his prime (2013-14 to 2016-17), he won the Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award with a .928 save percentage during that time. He also backstopped Canada to Olympic gold in 2012 and the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. Larkin suggests Price belongs alongside Hall-of-Famers such as Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros and Peter Forsberg whose careers were cut short by injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Price’s playing career is over I believe he will be remembered as the greatest goaltender in Canadiens history to never win the Stanley Cup. He backstopped them to the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals and carried an underdog Habs roster to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
Price never had the luxury of a star-studded roster in front of him. Only one of his teammates (Alexei Kovalev) reached 80 points during his career and none of them reached 40 goals in a season. Nevertheless, he made his teams better with his play.
He was highly respected around the league among his peers. Larkin pointed out that Price topped the NHLPA player poll as best goalie or hardest to score against during its first three seasons starting in 2017-18 when he was past his prime. Larkin also cited Price’s charity work and efforts to help break down barriers to mental health.
I’m not sure that Price will get into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Still, I think he will be voted in one day and probably won’t have to wait very long following his retirement for that honor.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom told a Swedish sports magazine that the pain from his injured hip was so severe it was affecting his daily life. He revealed he has difficulty walking, playing with his children, putting on socks and tying his shoes.
Backstrom, 34, underwent hip surgery in 2015 but has been dealing with chronic hip pain for years. He was limited to just 47 games last season and admitted to a loss of mobility, speed and balance.
Having undergone hip resurfacing surgery in June, Backstrom faces a long road of rehab and recovery. The procedure has ended the careers of several athletes, including former NHLer Ryan Kesler. There’s no timetable for Backstrom’s return to action.
Backstrom said his quality of life has improved since the surgery. He’s not giving up on resuming his playing career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Backstrom can make a full recovery and return to the game he loves. At least he’s no longer experiencing pain in his daily life.
Capitals management has indicated Backstrom’s intent to return at some point in the coming season. If he does it’ll likely be closer to the end of the regular-season schedule.
CALGARY SUN: Nazem Kadri’s decision to sign with the Flames last week is a major compliment to general manager Brad Treliving’s efforts to salvage the off-season. Despite the departure of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, Treliving brought in Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Treliving’s blockbuster trade of Tkachuk for Huberdeau and Weegar salvaged what could’ve been a disastrous offseason for Calgary following the departure of Gaudreau and Tkachuk’s unwillingness to sign a contract extension. That move helped convince Kadri to sign with the Flames. Kadri, Huberdeau and Weegar should keep the Flames among the top teams in the Western Conference.
NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin is expected to be ready to participate in the Dallas Stars’ training camp next month. The hero of the Stars’ run to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, the 36-year-old goalie underwent hip surgery in March after struggling through nine games last season. Khudobin has a year remaining on his contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $3.3 million.