NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2022
Sean Couturier could have some good news today, better conditioning contributed to the Flames’ improvement last season, plus the latest on Joe Thornton, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers center Sean Couturier will address the media later today regarding his rehab from back surgery. It could be an indication that his rehab went well and he’ll be ready for training camp next week. The Flyers will have their physicals on Sept. 21 and will take to the ice the following day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy Couturier will be vital to the Flyers’ hopes for improvement. His injury and absence contributed to their poor performance last season.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Improved player conditioning last summer played a key role in the Flames bouncing back from missing the playoffs in 2021 to finishing atop the Pacific Division last season.
Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said the club was among the poorest-trained he’d ever seen after taking over behind the bench midway through the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. He demanded that his players train harder last summer to become faster players. As a result, half a dozen of them went on to career-best performances in 2021-22.
Sutter’s message to the players heading into this summer wasn’t much different. “Train 10 percent harder”, he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The pandemic likely had something to do with the Flames’ poor team conditioning in 2020-21. There was considerable uncertainty throughout the autumn of 2020 over when the season would take place, how many games would be played and what the scheduling would look like.
That would’ve created havoc for the players’ offseason training. Creatures of habit, their workout programs were thrown off-kilter by the pandemic, sometimes forcing them to train on their own or in groups smaller than they were used to.
Some teams probably had more difficulty adjusting than others. Last summer brought more of a semblance of normalcy toward their offseason plans and probably made it easier for them to improve their conditioning.
DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Flames, they’ve signed forward Cody Eakin to a professional tryout offer.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former Sharks center Joe Thornton has returned to San Jose with his family while he figures out his future. He’s been recently seen skating a few times with some of the Sharks players at the club’s practice facility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton’s playing career could come to an end if he doesn’t get a contract with an NHL club for 2022-23. The 43-year-old saw action in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest with the Florida Panthers last season.
TSN: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba was among several black NHL players who took part in the documentary “Black Ice” examining the role of players of color in Canadian hockey. Dumba, 28, is a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.
TVA SPORTS: Former NHL coach Craig Ramsay believes Juraj Slafkovsky will make his debut with the Montreal Canadiens this season. Ramsay, 71, saw the first-overall draft pick’s potential as part of Slovakia’s coaching staff in the 2022 Winter Olympics, where the 18-year-old winger was the tournament’s leading scorer.
Ramsay, 71, explained why Slafkovsky shone in international play while his stats were unimpressive playing in Finland. The Slovakian team let the young winger play to his strengths as an offensive player whereas he was forced to play a more defensive trapping style in Finland.
Slafkovsky could thrive playing for Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. Ramsay believes St. Louis will help the young Slovakian winger correct his mistakes while allowing him the freedom to let him bloom.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ramsay said he never yelled at Slafkovksy behind the bench for making mistakes but instead spoke quietly to him about them in a positive way following the game. That’s the same approach St. Louis took with his players last season and they responded well.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Carl Hagelin continues to work his way back from a career-threatening eye injury suffered in practice last March. He took part in scrimmages with teammates last week wearing a regular practice jersey.
GOPHNX.COM: Conor Timmins has fully recovered from a season-ending knee injury and is ready to start his first full season with the Arizona Coyotes. The 23-year-old defenseman played in just six games for the Coyotes last season.
THE ATHLETIC: Andrew Lustgarten will step down as president and CEO of MSG Sports at the end of 2022. MSG Sports is the parent company of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. James Dolan, owner of both clubs, will continue to oversee operations for the Rangers and Knicks.