NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2023
Reaction to the Penguins firing Ron Hextall and Brian Burke, the Capitals parting ways with head coach Peter Laviolette, the Ducks firing coach Dallas Eakins, and much more from a busy final day of the regular season in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon finished the regular season with a hat trick in a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. With the win, the Avalanche clinch the Central Division title and face the Seattle Kraken in the opening round of the 2023 playoffs starting Tuesday in Denver. The Dallas Stars sit second in the Central and will square off against the Minnesota Wild starting Monday in Dallas.
The Buffalo Sabres closed out their season by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. Jeff Skinner scored a goal and collected two assists while Devon Levi made 29 saves for his fifth win in seven starts. Johnny Gaudreau scored for the Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen raised questions about his future with the club following the game. He said he loved his job despite the challenging year the Jackets faced. However, he indicated there are “a lot of things to sort through and a lot of things to think through in a year like this.”
Portzline also reported Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen texted him saying Larsen had not been informed postgame that he’d been fired. Earlier in the week, Kekalainen said his coaching staff would not be judged on its record because of the injuries that ravaged the roster this season.
**UPDATE** The Blue Jackets officially relieved Larsen of his duties this morning and announced the contract of goalie coach Manny Legace won’t be renewed.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins fired general manager Ron Hextall, president of hockey operations Brian Burke and assistant GM Chris Pryor on Friday after little more than two years on the job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This wasn’t shocking given the Penguins missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The status of head coach Mike Sullivan and his staff will be determined by Hextall’s replacement.
Pundits are wasting little time speculating over possible candidates for the Penguins general manager job. Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, former Sabres GM Jason Botterill, and Carolina Hurricanes assistant GM Eric Tulsky are among the notables suggested as potential options.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Washington Capitals and head coach Peter Laviolette have agreed to part ways after three seasons. Laviolette’s contract expires at the end of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals missed the playoffs this season for the first time since 2014 in part because of their injury-depleted roster. Nevertheless, they failed to show much progress toward returning to Stanley Cup contention over the previous two seasons.
Part of that is because of how the Capitals’ roster is constructed. However, Laviolette seemed unable to develop their promising younger players or get better results from struggling players like Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks decided not to renew the contract of head coach Dallas Eakins after four seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducks GM Pat Verbeek inherited Eakins when he took over midway through last season. Verbeek gave him a year but it’s apparent he wants his own man behind the bench as part of the club’s rebuild.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced they relieved Mike Van Ryn and Craig MacTavish of their duties as assistant coaches.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with their roster, the Blues seek to retool rather than overhaul their coaching staff.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Good news for the New York Islanders as they prepare to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the upcoming playoffs. Mathew Barzal has rejoined his teammates for practice for the first time since being sidelined on Feb. 18 with a lower-body injury.
Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett (lower body) was placed on injured reserve as his club prepares for their approaching first-round series with the Boston Bruins.
TSN: The Minnesota Wild intend to ride Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson as a true goalie tandem during the coming playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has the experience and more games played (46) this season but Gustavsson has better stats and saw action in 39 contests.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens executive VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton laughed off a rumor claiming he might be interested in a GM job elsewhere. “Why, are you sick of me already?,” he said, adding “I’m coming back, yes. Those were just rumors.”
Canadiens GM Kent Hughes said his club must do a better job getting its players to be more forthright with the team regarding injuries.
It was revealed that Brendan Gallagher played eight games on a broken ankle before missing 13 games. He played three games following his return before breaking the same ankle and missing 45 games. Meanwhile, Sean Monahan admitted playing on a broken foot for several games led to his season-ending groin injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens led the league in man games lost to injuries for the second straight season. Part of that is due to the longstanding tradition among NHL players to try to play through serious injuries to help their team.
It’s a mindset based on the bad old days of the Original Six era when players had little choice but to play through injuries or risk being replaced and demoted to the minors. That’s no longer the case today. Nevertheless, the tradition continues because of the mythology of the toughness of NHL players that are celebrated throughout the league.
The downside, of course, is that it merely makes things worse for the player as his effectiveness is hampered. The injury eventually worsens forcing them from the lineup for much longer than they would’ve been had they allowed themselves time to properly heal. This also comes with the risk of shortening the player’s career.
The Canadiens aren’t the only team facing this problem. It’s time for teams to do a better job educating their coaches and players on the adverse effect that playing through serious injuries can have on their health and careers.
A new contract for Canadiens winger Cole Caufield doesn’t seem imminent. The 22-year-old sniper said there isn’t a rush on either side right now but claims he’s unconcerned about it. “The deal’s going to get done when it gets done,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer Caufield goes unsigned this summer the more media speculation will ramp up about his future. He’s a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract with no arbitration rights. A rival club could swoop in with an offer sheet after June 30 but that’s a long shot at best given how seldom such deals are made.
There’s plenty of time for the Canadiens and the Caufield camp to get a deal done. If he’s still unsigned when training camp opens in September, then it may be time for Habs fans to worry about his future in Montreal.
NHL.COM: The league announced the odds for the participants in the 2023 draft lottery on May 8. The Anaheim Ducks have the best odds at 18.5 percent, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets at 13.5 percent and Chicago Blackhawks at 11.5 percent. You can see the odds for the remaining 13 teams by clicking the link provided.
CAP FRIENDLY: As part of the conditions of the Timo Meier trade, the San Jose Sharks will receive the New Jersey Devils’ 2023 first-round pick.
Na na na na
Na na na na
Heh heh heh
About friggin time…. More (and big changes come ming please)
Playoffs at the front door…. Looking forward to it
Bruins certainly favoured… setting records…. That said…. Who is super hot now…. Winning last 9 straight; 29 of last possible 30 points (96.7 %); 33 of last 36 possible points (91.7 %); and 37/42 (881) since the beginning of March….. their Captain already getting 4 individual trophies this year; and a string contender for the Messier trophy.
Their second best player, is second in the League in points…. Only because their Captain finished first setting totals not seen in nigh 30 years.
Their “back up” is now the starter… and is in the Calder talks (personally I feel he should win)
Ray et al…. are the hills alive with the sound of music 🎶 🎼 🎵 ???
Why do people call it firing when it really isn’t. The contract expires and isn’t renewed by either or both sides. For a player they call it free agency for coaches it’s always fired. In other jobs it’s my contract expired (consultants have it all the time)? Seems like media click bait twisting situations to sling a narrative
I noticed this with Eakins in Anaheim and Laviolette in Washington … neither were renewed but one was let go in a mutual decision and one was fired.
HexBurkie were fired
Too late unfortunately
But they WERE fired…. like the Python dead Parrot sketch…. their job (as GM and Prz of Hocke Opsof Penguins)… “is no more”
Talk about a distinction without a difference … bottom line whether fired or not renewed – they don’t have a job!
Yes Pengy Oilers were hot down the road. As nice as McDavid numbers are scoring is up league wide.
David Pastrnak had the quieted 60 plus goal season of all time.
When McDavid and Matthews were approaching their 60 goals, my twitter count was blown up by all the talking heads. Pastrnack unless you were following Boston beat writers you wouldn’t know he was on pace for 60
I hear them talk of the Vezina going to Hellebuyck, Saros and Sorokin. At this point Ullmark be lucky to finish in the top 3
40-6 (sub 2gaa) 1.89 and .938 sv% all league leading!!
No other goaltender with a sub 2 gaa next is 2.10
and that belongs to Gustavsson
McDavid is the league mvp! no contest, the debate starts with who is second:
Draisaitl, Matthew Tkachuck, Jason Robinson, Nathan McKinnon all names bandied about… no mention of the guy who was second in goals with 61 and tied for 3rd in points with 113 and a +/- of 34 and 2nd in the league with even strength points at 76, one point behind Nathan McKinnon and one more then McDavid.
Boston had an incredible regular season, one that has never been done before and one i will not likely see again.
The most surprising number to me is Patrice Bergeron finished tied for second with Jake Debrusk at 27 goals.
Playoffs are here, no one cares about the regular season, Boston has an unproven goaltender with only 2 playoff games to his resume a 4.17gaa and .860 sv%
Meanwhile Edmonton has this rookie goaltender ready to lead the way and Toronto are not to concern over Samsonov because they have Joseph Woll ready to take over the rein.
Love the Canadian media.
Caper the Canadian media clearly serves its base and it appetite for their teams “news” better than Boston’s. If you don’t like that, I don’t think there’s no one else to blame than the market, don’t you think. If there’s a demand for every tiny insignificant detail on a team or it’s players, it’s on its fan base to demand it or have a large enough of a fan base the media cannot ignore them and the money it makes them. Like it or not (which no surprise you dont) it is what it is and lame to point to anything else.
When I mentioned “their second best player”..,, I was meaning Oil; not the League
There is McD…. A gap….. then , as you’ve pointed out…. A group that that has each of them with an argument for League’s 2nd best
I think Pasta likely nips out the others
McD is guaranteed the 4 trophies; and I truly believe he has an excellent shot at the Messier
He obviously would love to get the Stanley Cup…. Which means he and teammates would have already won Campbell
If Oil do get SC…. More than likely McD carries them there…. So …. Smythe????
It’s possible that Oil lose to Bruins and Smythe awarded to McD
It’s also possible that there us/are an upset(s)… he’s still getting 4 trophies no matter what
Caper, I think Pasta get’s less credit for his production because the B’s are so deep, so they all kinda get blended together. Kinda like Draisaitl gets less credit because folks say it’s because of McDavid, but they really only play together on the PP. Where they kill it.
Ullmark deserves the Vezina, heck you could make a very strong argument that he as the most valuable player on the league’s best team. He’s been great. Only thing that some will argue is he doesn’t play as much as some other top tenders, but that is simply because they have Swayman, so of course you manage the load. It would be stupid not too.
FLA won’t be an easy out for the B’s, they’ve been playing really well for a stretch, and some quality players. Need our bottom 6 fwds to outscore theirs, which I think they should.
I’m predicting a Bruins Oilers final, and not just because I want to be able to go watch it live!
Hi Ron, not exactly sure what your point is? “lame to point to anything else.”
Not really, there is multiple markets in Canada; however 90% of the media national talking heads live in Toronto; although they claim to be National they are exactly regional.
Ron, these folks claim to cover the NHL, not just Toronto and McDavid.
If you want credit to a national league report, insider or whatever else it is, then cover the league.
I live in Winnipeg and the coverage from the National guys is limited at best. So no they don’t cover Canada.
Ohhhh I see Toronto’s media should cover more teams more often than the Leafs who are Toronto’s team?
By that logic, other cites should cover the other teams more than the one in their city? Makes sense to me. 🙄
You got your Wish……👍
But the Cuboard was petty bare when they both got there as Jim Rutherford the X GM had spent most of the picks and prospects on Trades….
I think by the end of the 2023/4 season if they are not in the playoffs they will start to trade there old guys away and start a Re-build in Pittsburgh,
Same thing will happen in Washington they are to old and not that good any more with the Young Fast Sabers & Sen’s charging up now, if they can get Starting Goaltenders they will both do very well…❓
Yes got my wish (still more to my wish though…. New GM that not only can; but WILL make the bib moves and jettison many players)
But empty cupboard is not why he failed…. He was just brutal with moves….. starting with the expansion draft…. Should have protected Turbo…. Set that aside….
Trade McCann for …. Well…. Basically nothing
Had that not happened…, McC at 3C instead of Carter…. That alone keeps streak alive
Petry/Rutta replacing Marino/Matheson…. Team got massively slower; got older; got waaaaay worse
Kappy…, Hexburkie signed him for term at much higher than he possibly could have been awarded at Arb….doh!!!
TDL this year… ouch…. Not only missed out on deals that were way better for Pens…. But cost much less than the assets they gave up
The list goes on and on
Now he’s traded 4 more picks…. getting team much older, smaller, weaker…. and stuck with 2 more years of Granlund (although his contract is prime for a buyout)
They (HexBurkie) just did a horrific job
I do think of a retool doesn’t get them to the playoffs they will consider discussing deals with the big three. But that won’t be considered unless or until they are either far out of playoffs by deadline or miss playoffs in 24
Yeah, because he did a real bang up job in Buffalo.
As the assistant for us and kraken he did well. Does he deserve another shot?
Maybe. Some of his panned moves as the Sabres gm ended up working out.
With Chrisms in this
Did very good job on Pens and Krakken.
Is familiar with Pens org
Sabres issues … certainly not all his fault or doing
I’d take Botteril over Dubas
All potential GMs should di much better than HexBurkie
From the get go…. Cite McCann move…. Absolute idiot move
This list of brutal moves is long and cuts very deep…. Right up to and including..,,
2nd, *3rd, 5th, 7th…. For a handful of Bonino/Kulikov games…. And 2 more Brutal years of Granlund …. Getting older; slower; weaker; worse now, next two years; losing 4 picks
*Dud move McG contract
And AFTER that…. Two days ago…. To get Pettersson in for game 82…. He put Friedman on waivers…. he could have been (small probability dur to time of year; but possible) picked up…. Not by playoff teams; but the others….. instead of putting Ruhweedel on waivers…. Which had absolutely zero chance of anybody picking him up
Good riddance HexBurkie
I’m ready for the Pens to move forward not back. Botteril is nothing but a retread. You’re correct, he does deserve another shot. Just not in Pittsburgh.
Goodbye and good luck, Brad Larsen and Manny Legacy.
I think Mike Vellucci would be a good fit as head coach in Columbus.
With back-to-back 82-game seasons to compare for the first time since the Covid intrusion, these 15 teams experienced improvements in their records to varying degrees as indicated which range from eye-popping to modest to minimal
New Jersey went from a 27-46-9 63 pt record with 248gf and 307ga and 28th overall to a 52-22-8 112 pt record (a + 49) with 291 gf (+43) and 236ga (-71) and 3rd overall
Seattle went from a 27 49 6 60 pt record with 216gf and 285ga and 30th overall to a 46-28-8 100 pts record (+40) with 289gf (+64) and 256ga (-32) and 12th overall
Boston went from a 51-26-5 107 pt record with 255gf and 220ga and 10th overall to a 65-12-5 135pt record (a +28) with 305gf (+50) and 177ga (-43) and 1st overall
Vegas went from a 43-31-8 94 pt record with 266gf and 248ga and 17th overall to a 51-22-9 111 pt record (a +17) with 272gf (+6) and 229ga (-19) and 5th overall
Buffalo went from a 32-39-11 75 pt record with 232gf and 290ga to a 42-33-7 91 pt record (a +14) with 296gf (+74) and 300ga (+10) and 20th overall
Philadelphia went from a 25-46-11 61 pt record with 211gf and 298ga and 29th overall to a 31-38-13 75 pt record (a +14) with 222ga (+11) and 277ga (-21) and 26th overall
Ottawa went from 33-42-7 73 pt record with 227gf and 266ga and 26th overall to a 39-35-8 86 pt record (a +13) with 261gf (+34) and 271ga (+5) and 21st overall
Dallas went from a 46-30-6 98 pt record with 238gf and 246ga and 15th overall to a 47-21-14 108 pt record (a +10) with 285gf (+47) and 218ga (-28) and 8th overall
Arizona went from a 25-50-7 57 pt record with 207gf and 313ga and 31st overall to a 28-40-14 70 pt record (a +13) with 228ga (+21) and 299ga (-14) and 27th overall
Montreal went from a 22-49-11 55 pt record with 221gf and 319ga and 32nd overall to a 31-45-6 68 pt record (a +13) with 232gf (+11) and 307ga (-12) and 28th overall
New York Islanders went from a 37-35-10 84 pt record with 231gf and 237ga and 20th overall to a 42-31-9 93 pt record (a +9) with 232gf (+1) and 222ga (-15) and 15th overall
Winnipeg went from a 39-32-11 89 pt record with 252gf and 257ga and 19th overall to a 46-33-3 95 pt record (a +6) with 247gf (-5) and 225ga (-32) and 14th overall
Detroit went from a 32-40-10 74 pt record with 230gf and 312ga and 25th overall to a 35-37-10 80 pt record (a +6) with 240gf (+10) and 279ga (-33) and 24th overall
Edmonton went from a 49-27-6 104 pt record with 290gf and 252ga and 11th overall to a 50-23-9 109 pt record (a +5) with 325gf (+35) and 260ga (+8) and 6th overall
Los Angeles went from a 44-27-11 99 pt record with 239gf and 236ga and 14th overall to a 47-25-10 104 pt record (a +5) with 280gf (+41) and 257ga (+21) and 10th overall
These 17 teams experienced decreases – again to varying degrees ranging from minimal – and therefore inconsequential considering their continuing very good records – right down to coach/GM changing results – some of which have already occured
Carolina went from a 54-20-8 116 pt record with 278gf and 202ga and 3rd overall to a 52-21-9 113 pt record (a -3) with 266gf (-12) and 213ga (+11) but still good enough for 2nd overall
New York Rangers went from a 52-24-6 110 pt record with 254gf and 207ga and 7th overall to a 47-22-13 107 pt record (a -3) with 277gf (+23) and 219ga (+12) and 9th overall
Toronto went from a 54-21-7 115 pt record with 315gf and 253ga and 4th overall to a 50-21-11 111 pt record (a -4) with 279gf (-36) and 222ga (-31) to remain 4th overall
Nashville went from 45-30-7 97 pt record with 266gf and 252ga and 16th overall to a 42-32-8 92 pt record (a -5) with 229ga (-37) and 238ga (-14) and 18th overall
Vancouver went from a 40-30-12 92 pt record with 249gf and 236ga and 18th overall to a 38-37-7 83 pt record (a -9) with 276gf (+27) and 298ga (+62) and 22nd overall
Chicago went from a 28-42-12 68 pt record with 219gf and 291ga and 27th overall to a 26-49-7 59 pt record (a -9) with 204gf (-15) and 301ga (+10) and 30th overall
Minnesota went from 53-22-7 113 pt record with 310gf and 253ga and 5th overall to a 46-25-11 103 pt record (a -10) with 246gf (-64) and 225ga (-28) and 11th overall
Colorado went from a 56-19-7 119 pt record with 312gf and 234ga and 2nd overall to a 50-24-7 107 pt record (a -12) with 280 gf (-32) and 226ga (-8) and 7th overall
Tampa Bay went from a 51-23-8 110 pt record with 287gf and 233ga and 8th overall to a 46-30-6 98 pt record (a -12) with 283gf (-4) and 254ga (+21) and 13th overall
Pittsburgh went from a 46-25-11 103 pt record with 272gf and 229ga and 12th overall to a 40-31-11 91 pt record (a -12) with 262gf (-10) and 264ga (+35) and 19th overall
San Jose went from a 32-37-13 77 pt record with 214gf and 264ga and 22nd overall to a 22-44-16 60 pt record (a -17) with 234gf (+20) and 321ga (+57) and 29th overall
Calgary went from a 50-21-11 11 pt record with 293gf and 208ga and 6th overall to a 38-27-17 93 pt record (a -18) with 260gf (-33) and 252ga (+44) and 16th overall
Anaheim went from a 31-37-14 76 pt record with 232gf and 271ga and 23rd overall to a 23-47-12 58 pt record (a -18) with 209gf (-23) and 338ga (+67) and 32nd overall
Washington went from a 44-26-12 100 pt record with 275gf and 245ga and 13th overall to a 35-37-10 80 pt record (a -20) with 255gf (-20) and 265ga (+20) and 25th overall
Columbus went from a 37-28-7 81 pt record with 262gf and 330ga and 21st overall to a 25-48-9 59 pt record (a -22) with 214gf (-48) and 330ga (+30) and 31st overall
St. Louis went from a 49-22-11 109 pt record with 311gf and 242ga and 9th overall to a 37-38-7 81 pts record (a -28) with 263gf (-48) and 301ga (+59) and 23rd overall
Florida went from a 58-18-6 122 pt record with 340gf and 246ga and 1st overall to a 42-32-8 92 pts record (a -30) with 290gf (-50) and 273ga (+27) and 17th overall
You clearly have immense interest in hockey, George. Admirable level of work here.
Hard to feel that going from 32 to 28th overall is an improvement for the Habs. I hazard a guess that you feel the same way about the Sens.
Oh yeah, for sure LJ, but technically they are both”improvements” when compared to last season. As I say above these “range from eye-popping to modest to minimal.” For both the Habs and Senators the up-ticks were “minimal” – but still upwards, and in the case of Habs almost phenomenal when you look at their KEY man-games lost to injury.
Even so though, much better than experiencing what Calgary, Washington, St. Louis and Florida went through in their seasonal comparisons.
Key thing with Habs.. . 2 consecutive years with most man-games lost
I think Habs have a bright future…. The standings points (certainly crimped by man-games lost)…. Has Habs with 8.5 % chance at Bedard; 8.8 % chance at Fantilli; and 86% chance that they pick in top 6
With just say 25% less man games lost…. Would have Still been out of the playoffs likely; but probably in the bubble down the stretch
Slafk, Caufield, “Jack Eye” back next year; maybe Bedard or Fantilli; and good prospects already in the system; and 11 picks this year; 5 first rounders in next 3 drafts…. Future for Habs is not too shabby
Thanks for the ray of optimism, Pengy. Bedard is too much to hope for but you are wise in pointing to the broader, and brighter, picture.
Buffalo should read a +16 not 14
Did my bracket today my upset first round took Kings over Oilers just think the experience will help LA and Oilers won’t get hundreds of PP,s. If they spend series on power play then I lose. Have Colorado Bruins in final can’t bet against my Bruins after that regular season.
Only minor disagreements here since I am predicting a Toronto/Edmonton final. Maybe those are significant disagreements. Imagine the TV ratings in the states.
LA will be tough for the Oil, could easily go either way.
Here are my predictions:
BOS over FLA in 6
TOR over TB in 5
CAR over NYI in 6
NYR over NJD in 6
COL over SEA in 5
MIN over DAL in 7
VEG over WPG in 7
EDM over LA in 6
Final 4 is
EDM over COL in 6
BOS over NYR in 6
B’s win cup at home in game 7
My only protest would be Edm over Colorado, Ray. Heretical comment though this is from a Habs fan I hope the Bs win the Cup. Record breaking season, all the more impressive given how things looked like for them before the season started.
Not that I will back that up by watching them in the playoffs … LOL!
May as well join in
Boston over Florida in 5
Toronto over Tampa in 6
NYI over Carolina in 6
NJ over NYR in 7
Vegas over Winnipeg in 5
Edmonton over L.A. in 6
Minnesota over Dallas in 7
Colorado over Seattle in 5
Looking WAY ahead it’ll be Boston-Colorado in the finals.
Ray not bad! but…. Winnipeg will beat Vegas in 6… if not Vegas to the finals
I agree Boston in tough against Florida and will be the 3rd and 4th lines that will make the difference.
However i plan on going to Boston for the cup final against Edmonton or Vegas.
I find not much love for TB, and most expecting Tor to get out of the 1sr round. I’m picking TB in 6, TB defense and goaltending will be the difference.
Boston vs Vegas cup final… oh the story lines
Bruce Cassidy who was consider to tough of a coach but here he is and likely a candidate for the Jack Adams.
I pondered picking WPG in an upset Caper, it seems the chip is back on their shoulders. But Vegas is really good too.
I think these playoffs will be outstanding!
Laviolette will not be out of work long. Could be a good fit in Columbus or Anaheim. If either of these teams win the lottery for Bedard, would be good spot for him.