NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 19, 2022
Recaps of Tuesday’s games, the salary cap could take a big jump next season, the league releases its first diversity report and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Ottawa Senators forwards Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson each had a goal and two assists in a 7-5 win over the Boston Bruins. A third-period goal by Artum Zub put the game out of reach. David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron also each had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who pulled goalie Jeremy Swayman after he gave up six goals on 25 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win in their home opener in front of a rare sellout crowd for the Senators, who had dropped their first two games of the season. The Senators had suffered at the gate during their rebuilding process in recent years. Season ticket sales jumped during the summer as offseason additions like Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux sparked excitement among the fan base.
An overtime goal by Vladislav Gavrikov lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Jackets. Bo Horvat scored twice for the Canucks, who blew an early multi-goal lead for the fourth straight game. Tucker Poolman returned to the Canucks lineup after missing a game to an undisclosed injury while teammate Conor Garland was a healthy scratch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every team blows a multi-goal lead now and then. Doing it in every game since the season started a week ago indicates a lack of skilled blueline depth and a poor overall defensive game.
The Calgary Flames pushed their record to 3-0-0 by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to nip the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists while Mikael Backlund scored the game-winner in the third period. Logan Thompson made 37 saves for the Golden Knights.
Third-period goals by James van Riemsdyk and Noah Cates carried the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Carter Hart made 36 saves for the win as the Flyers have won three straight games. Steven Stamkos scored both goals for the Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re already seeing the positive effect that head coach John Tortorella is having on the Flyers roster. Last year’s version would’ve wilted after falling behind 2-0 but this season’s bunch doesn’t give up.
The Buffalo Sabres got a 46-save performance by goaltender Eric Comrie to upset the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. The Sabres’ Rasmus Dahlin tied an NHL record for a defenseman by scoring his third straight goal in the first three games of the season. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were each held to an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t sleep on the Sabres this season. They will be a competitive club and could surprise us by getting into the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference.
A shootout goal by Gabriel Vilardi gave the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators. The Kings got two third-period goals by Matt Roy to force overtime and the shootout round while Vilardi had a goal and an assist in regulation time. Juuse Saros turned aside 32 shots for the Predators.
New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom scored twice while teammates Brock Nelson, Noah Dobson and Adam Pelech each collected two assists to down the San Jose Sharks 5-2. It’s the first time in franchise history that the Sharks have lost their first five games of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I smell a rebuild in the Sharks’ future.
The New Jersey Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit to pick up their first win of the season by doubling up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Dougie Hamilton snapped a 2-2 tie while Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt each collected two points. Jakob Silfverberg tallied both goals for the Ducks.
NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said the salary cap for 2023-24 could rise by at least $4 million if the escrow debt owed by the players to the league is repaid in full by the end of this season.
The players incurred a $1.1 billion debt as a result of revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the salary cap being set artificially high at $81.5 million over the past two seasons and $82.5 million for this season under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NHLPA. The cap was set to rise to $83.5 million next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sharp increase in hockey-related revenue since last season is the reason why the players’ escrow debt could be paid off sooner than expected. HRR is shared equally between the players and the team owners. A return to full 82-game schedules with no attendance restrictions as well as the lucrative new broadcasting deals with ESPN, Disney and Turner Sports are key reasons why the players’ debt could be repaid sooner than expected.
This would be good news for the teams and the players. A spike in the cap to $86.5 million next season means more money for cap-strapped teams. Meanwhile, players eligible for free-agent status next summer could make more than they would’ve under a flattened cap.
THE SCORE: The NHL released its first diversity report revealing that 84 percent of its workforce is white with men making up nearly 62 percent of that total. That mirrors the situation on the ice where more than 90 percent of players, coaches and officials are white.
Kim Davis, the NHL’s executive vice president of social impact, growth and legislative affairs, said the report was meant as a baseline in order to develop hiring strategies and ways to improve the league’s brand. She also indicated it’s not enough for the league to just hire people of color but must also improve its relationship with underrepresented communities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As The Score article pointed out, the results aren’t surprising for a sport that’s remained overwhelmingly white for socioeconomic and geographic reasons. Nevertheless, the NHL still has a long way to go to expand its inclusiveness of minorities.
This report forms the basis for how it can improve in those areas but how the league follows through will be crucial to achieving its aims. This report cannot be ignored if they truly want to improve diversity within the game.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov received a one-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs.
THE DENVER POST: The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has dropped its years-old doping case against Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin due to the results of additional analyses at a drug-testing lab in Switzerland. The case was based on a drug test Nichushkin had provided in 2013 while playing in the KHL.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Los Angeles Kings placed forward Alex Iafallo on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He is listed as week-to-week.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana remains out of the lineup for personal reasons. His status for Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks remains unclear.