NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 5, 2022
Mikko Rantanen and Patrik Laine shine as the Avalanche and Blue Jackets square off in Finland, Sebastian Aho leads the Hurricanes over the Sabres, reaction to the Bruins signing prospect Mitchell Miller, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland, as part of the NHL’s 2022 Global Series. Finnish stars Mikko Rantanen and Patrik Laine shone in front of a sellout crowd with Rantanen tallying a hat trick for the Avalanche while Laine had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets. Nathan MacKinnon collected four assists for the Avs (5-4-1) while the Jackets fall to 3-8-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche and Blue Jackets will face off again at Nokia Arena on Saturday to complete the second game of their Global Series.
Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho netted a hat trick and added an assist to lead his club over the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 5-3. Martin Necas had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes (8-2-1) while the Sabres (7-4-0) got two assists from rookie winger Jack Quinn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friday was a good day for three of Finland’s top forwards.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins signed prospect defenseman Mitchell Miller yesterday to a three-year entry-level contract.
A 2020 fourth-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes, the club renounced Miller’s draft rights after it emerged that he was convicted in juvenile court at age 14 for brutally bullying disabled classmate Isaiah Meyer-Crothers, including hurling racial slurs at him and physically demeaning him for years.
Miller admitted in juvenile court in 2016 that he and a classmate made Meyer-Crothers lick a lollipop that had been contaminated in a urinal, resulting in the victim having to undergo numerous tests for HIV, hepatitis and various sexually transmitted diseases. Meyer-Crother’s mother, Joni, revealed Miller never apologized to her son for his actions for years before reaching out last week on Instagram rather than contacting them directly.
SPORTSNET: Bruins general manager Don Sweeney met with the media to officially announce Miller’s signing. He said he struggled with the decision to sign the young defenseman.
“Mitchell’s paid a punishment, and he’s going to carry that for the rest of his life,” said Sweeney. “We’re going to hold him to a standard.”
However, Sweeney also admitted, “This decision could be wrong…It invited a lot of negativity that we didn’t need or want.”
In an interview with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said he was “on the fence” about the decision, saying as a team the Bruins stand for “integrity, and inclusion, and diversity obviously.” He felt that Miller’s signing “goes against what we are as a culture and as a team, and for me as a person.” Bergeron acknowledged he’d been told that Miller was working hard to make some changes but believes “the work is on him.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins are catching hell for this move in the media and on social media, especially from their fans and local pundits. To make matters worse, management reportedly didn’t bother contacting Meyer-Crothers’ family during their vetting of Miller.
Some of the players in their leadership group questioned the decision when they were informed of the club’s intentions to sign Miller. If you’re a general manager or team president and your well-respected team captain is publicly questioning a signing, you might want to reconsider your plans.
Miller’s signing is just the latest in a string of recent stories of the toxic culture that exists within the game and its reflection on the NHL as a standard bearer for the sport. It gives the impression that the league in particular and the sport as a whole have learned nothing.
For better or worse, the Bruins are willing to give Miller a second chance. Like the Montreal Canadiens’ Logan Mailloux, it’s on him to prove that he’s learned from his transgression, that he’s genuinely remorseful for his actions and will never repeat them, and is willing to advocate against such atrocious behavior within the hockey community.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators are officially up for sale with the condition that the new owner will keep the team in Ottawa. It’s expected the sale will take place within the coming months. There is expected to be no shortage of interested parties, especially with the Senators winning preferred bidder status to construct a new arena just 10 minutes from downtown Ottawa at LeBreton Flats.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the conspiracy theorists suggesting a prospective owner could pay lip service toward keeping the team in Ottawa only to up and move them within a few years after purchasing the club. It was nonsense anyway since any attempt to do so would require NHL approval. League commissioner Gary Bettman wants the Senators to remain in Ottawa.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Beck Malenstyn will be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks following surgery to repair a fractured left finger.