NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2022
Wayne Simmonds, Nazem Kadri and Akim Aliu take issue with a Toronto Sun columnist, an update on David Pastrnak’s contract talks, the Golden Knights sign Nic Hague while the Senators sign Derick Brassard and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
YAHOO SPORTS/TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds and Calgary Flames center Nazem Kadri took issue with Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons regarding an article the latter wrote about former NHLer Akim Aliu. The three players are members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, formed in 2020 by several current and former players of color to eradicate racism in hockey.
Simmons suggested Aliu, chair of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, was using racism as an excuse for not achieving his potential as a player. “By my count, Aliu played for 23 teams in nine different leagues in 12 professional seasons and rarely finished any season with the same team he started with. If that was color-related, how is it that Wayne Simmonds spent just about the same 12 seasons playing in the NHL?”
Aliu replied on social media saying Simmons had “no clue” what he and his family endured physically and emotionally since he started playing hockey. He recounted several instances of racism he faced throughout his career.
Simmonds replied to the Sun columnist on Twitter, saying he didn’t appreciate what Simmons was trying to do. “Do not ever use my name or any other player of color’s name to try and make your point.”
Kadri, meanwhile, said Simmons is the last person who would know about experiencing racism. “He’s always been a writer that’s kind of been on the line and created a lot of controversy so people can read his articles,” said the Flames center. “He’s just a guy who’s a little dated in his writing.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The number of teams Aliu played for or the number of leagues he played in or his ability as a player doesn’t disqualify him from speaking out against racism in hockey. His story and those of other players who’ve endured racism and bigotry in the sport must be heard and their concerns must be addressed. Remember, hockey is supposed to be for everyone.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said contract talks with David Pastrnak are ongoing but offered up no timetable to finalize a deal. The 26-year-old winger said he’s comfortable with negotiations carrying on into the season. Meanwhile, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs said ownership’s mindset in trying to re-sign Pastrnak was “aggressive.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact those discussions are ongoing bodes well for the two sides reaching an agreement before Pastrnak’s eligibility for unrestricted free-agent status next July.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights signed Nicolas Hague to a three-year contract worth an average annual value of $2.294 million. The 23-year-old defenseman was a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ limited cap room factored into why it took so long to get Hague under contract. With Shea Weber, Robin Lehner and Nolan Patrick on LTIR, Owen Krepps of Vegas Hockey Now speculates they’ll squeeze under the $82.5 million cap by $700K depending on which players they demote to their AHL affiliate.
OTTAWA SUN: Derick Brassard earned a one-year, $750K contract with the Senators following a professional tryout offer. It’s the 35-year-old forward’s second tour with the Sens, having skated with them from 2016 to 2018.
CBS SPORTS: The New Jersey Devils placed captain Nico Hischier on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. It’s unclear if the 23-year-old center will be ready for the Devils’ season opener on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
TSN: Vancouver Canucks placed Ilya Mikheyev, Travis Dermott and Tyler Myers on injured reserve. Meanwhile, Brock Boeser will start the season on their active roster. Boeser had been recovering from hand surgery.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals placed Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injury reserve. The 34-year-old center is recovering from off-season hip surgery. Carl Hagelin (lower-body injury) and Tom Wilson (knee surgery) are listed as non-roster to start the season.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers placed Anthony Duclair (torn Achilles tendon) on LTIR. They will start the season with a 20-player roster due to salary-cap constraints. They also released Eric Staal from his professional tryout offer but are hoping to find a way to sign him to a contract.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Limited salary-cap space is also delaying the Carolina Hurricanes from signing Derek Stepan. They demoted Jordan Martinook after he cleared waivers but it’s considered merely a paper transaction until Jake Gardiner is officially placed on LTIR to start the season. Martinook will remain with the club and Stepan is expected to be signed shortly.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs demoted Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford after they cleared waivers on Monday.
98.5 THE SPORTS HUB: The Boston Bruins demoted Nick Foligno, Mike Reilly and Chris Wagner after they cleared waivers. It’s expected they’ll be recalled with Brad Marchand (hip surgery) and Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) going on LTIR to start the season.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH: The Blues assigned Jake Neighbours and Josh Leivo to the minors but in reality, they’re not going anywhere. The move is a paper transaction until sidelined defenseman Marco Scandella is placed on LTIR today.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens did the same thing with defenseman Arber Xhekaj. He made the roster due to a strong performance in training camp but the Canadiens must first place forward Paul Byron on LTIR.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clubs can be over the cap during the off-season by 10 percent but must be compliant when the regular season officially opens. Lots of teams with limited cap space were forced to do some creative accounting until they can officially place players on long-term injury reserve to start the season.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Juraj Slafkovsky also made the Canadiens’ roster to start the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 2022 first-overall pick faced considerable scrutiny and criticism from pundits and fans for his play during training camp and preseason games. His improvement over the course of that period garnered him at least a nine-game regular-season tryout.
After that, the Canadiens must decide if they’ll keep Slafkovsky on the roster for the season or send him to their AHL affiliate in Laval. If he’s sent down before his 10th game, the first year of his entry-level contract won’t count against this season and will slide to 2023-24.
“Ongoing Talks” meaning Pastrnak’s asking for too much money, Sweeney will play this card the whole season. I’m surprised noone’s picked up Reily, Foligno on the other hand well his time’s come and gone.
Rick, it might be more then money. Neely was quoted saying Pastrnak wants to know what the C position is going to look like.
With Bergeron and Krejci year to year, who is feeding him the puck.
Not a thought i had but does have merit.
Not sure why anyone would be surprised that regular NHL players cleared waivers, any GM would’ve tried to trade them before putting on waivers.
Sweeney picked the right players to go on waivers and still has the players; unfortunately Foglino can only be traded if an asset is added. Ride out the season.
I thought sure Reilly would be grabbed off waivers – especially by teams like Arizona, Seattle, New Jersey and Buffalo.
I’ve sort of tended to defend some of Steve Simmons views in the past … but this time he’s really put his foot in it.
So what if Aliu’s career frequently involved a change of teams? He certainly isn’t alone in that regard and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with his experiences with racism.
I dunno George. Without going too much down this rabbit hole…..Aliu is a turd of a human. Wayne Simmonds by all accounts is not. Still the point the columnist is trying to make isn’t his to make. And it’s a topic he should kind of avoid.
Much like Jake Vertanen, Ian Cole’s career is probably over. For the mental health of our NHL players, I encourage all of them to be neutered, and live alone and ensure proper physical distancing from anyone outside of hockey. If I was an NHL player I’d also be moving all my money to Turks and Caicos.
I have only read this piece but I understand it as this, what he said is that racism isn’t the reason he didn’t make it pointing at other colored players that has. In response to Aliu’s claims that racism being the reason for him not being a star player.
I hope I make sense
Kent and Dark G … I agree with you both. From all accounts Aliu’s nomad existence in hockey likely had a lot more to do with his confrontational personality than anything else (including 3 Major Junior teams – Windsor, Sudbury and London – which suggests he wasn’t exactly a “team-first” kind of guy – something like Ho-Sang, maybe?).
In his head he probably developed a classic “the world is against me” attitude and points to that and continuous racism as the basic reason for his continuous moving about and lack of NHL chances (7 games – all with Calgary).
But , given the history of many black players in the game so far, and their accounts of racist taunts from crowds and opposing players, I’m sure he has experienced a lot of it along the way.
But where Simmonds is concerned, he has plenty of other subject material to fill out his columns without delving into that touchy subject without having waled a mile in Aliu’s shoes. That was a mistake.
Can’t speak for Aliu, Simmonds or Simmons, but I would guess that if I faced that crap on a regular basis from other players, fans and even coaches, I might have a chip on my shoulder too.
And if you fight back and push back against coaches, how will that work out for you?
I have no idea if he was ever good enough, but can’t blame him for me against the world attitude (assuming he has one), because from his perspective in the hockey world, it may have felt like it.
To Kadri’s point on Simmons, it just seems he goes hunting for attention some times. Guess you need to these days or you don’t have a job unfortunately.
In his case, Ray, it’s hard to put down his constant moving around to anything but attitude, which was apparent as far back as his junior years and, some say, was the recent he dropped to the 2nd round in his draft year. From his first year in pre-Major Junior to his last go-round in 2020 he’s been in organized hockey for 16 years and over that span he’s been with TWENTY-SIX different teams – a few of them more than once, and several times that within the same season – but he’s never spent more than 2 straight seasons with the same team – whether in North America or Europe.
He clearly had some on-ice talent otherwise some of those teams might have told him to take a hike along the way. But he kept resurfacing … and moving along before he could even unpack.
If it was organization racism behind the frequent changes why would those teams bother bringing him in in the first place?
Like you say, if exposed to that kind of despicable taunting from crowds and opposition players (and maybe even within his various teams – we don’t know) I’d have a giant chip on my shoulder too.
IMO people who haven’t experienced racism need to keep their opinions to themselves. There is no way Steve Simmons knows what Aliu experienced and how it affected him. Just because Simmonds and Kaudre were able to deal with their experiences and make it into the NHL doesn’t mean Alui would be able to deal with them in the same manner. Different people deal with negative situations in different ways and they also affect people differently.
What I witnessed from Steve Simmons when he was part of HNIC, in interview scrums with players and coaches, and in his articles the guy is a scumbag and is one of those guys who will do anything to get a story read.
Slafkovsky has shown good hands, surprising skating and a nose for the puck. He’s played both wings while getting used to a smaller ice surface.
The kid has responded well to everything asked of him showing why HuGo picked him .
Wright meanwhile hasn’t gotten a shot on goal, was deked out of his jockstrap by an AHL coach.
It’s only pre-season so not a real indication of where these players will be down the road.
I like Slafkovsky’s attitude, conident without being arrogant.
Agreed but if he doesn’t show anything in his first nine games and if his ice time/role gets reduced then he should go and continue developing his North American game in the minors. I don’t want another Kotkaniemi.
I also don’t believe Steve Simmons was totally off base I read his column & even by todays standards I feel there is some truth in what he says. Do I disagree with the way he presented it probably He is a well respected journalist. But I have a feeling though he’s going to be in trouble for his comments none the less.
Re: RWM’s comment about Pastrnak wanting to much money. Why is it that, ever since free agency became part of professional sports in the mid-70’s, fans complain about players’ greed, but never about the greed of owners? Just as an example, the lockouts the NHL has experienced happened so that owners could protect their profits in CBA negotiations.
Kadri nailed it with his comments about Simmonds, a writer who often unnecessarily adds heat to his comments at the expense of light.
I think Kadri nailed it too. It was a fair assessment of Simmonds who is not any of these words: well respected journalist.