NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 13, 2023
The latest on the Golden Knights and Panthers on the eve of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, Flames name Ryan Huska as head coach, Rangers to reportedly hire Peter Laviolette as their new bench boss, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
STANLEY CUP FINAL NEWS
FLA HOCKEY NOW: The Florida Panthers return to Las Vegas hoping to bounce back from the 3-2 loss in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Vegas Golden Knights hold a 3-1 lead in the series and can win the Cup tonight in Game 5.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Panthers forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Nick Cousins, and defensemen Brandon Montour and Radko Gudas skipped practice on Monday. Head coach Paul Maurice offered no updates on their conditions heading into Game 5 but said he would provide an update on Tuesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those four would have to be seriously injured to miss Game 5 with the Stanley Cup on the line. I wouldn’t be surprised if they play but how effective they’ll be depends on how banged up they are.
All eyes will be on Tkachuk. The Panthers’ leading scorer was clearly hampered in Game 4 by what appeared to be a shoulder injury. Montour’s performance will also be worth monitoring as he’s been their top defenseman in this postseason.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Jack Eichel provided context to his recent meeting with former NBA great and TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley. In an interview on Hockey Night in Canada during Game 4, Barkley said Eichel didn’t seem to know who he was when he approached the Golden Knights center in a hotel to wish him good luck in the series.
Eichel insisted he knew who Barkley was but was engaged in conversation with someone else when Barkley approached him. He said Barkley was polite and didn’t want to interrupt him but wanted to meet him. “That was the extent of it,” said Eichel, adding he was a big fan of Barkley but felt the encounter was taken a bit out of context.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski reports Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo will not face supplemental discipline for leaving the penalty box for joining a scrum at the end of Game 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: During his 32 Thoughts podcast on Monday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the league looked into the incident and decided against a suspension. Pietrangelo was released from the penalty box at the end of the period and was not the aggressor in the scrum.
THE TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran cited Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean wondering if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would break with tradition and award the Stanley Cup to Golden Knights owner Bill Foley instead of team captain Mark Stone if Vegas wins the Cup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGran noted that MacLean was merely musing but he hopes that doesn’t come to pass. “Who wants to see an owner be first to hoist the Cup?” writes McGran. “It would be a bit of an emotional letdown”.
I don’t expect Bettman will break the longtime tradition of awarding the Cup to the team captain. If he does, the reaction from fans and pundits will be swift and furious.
IN OTHER NEWS…
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: As expected, the Flames formally announced Ryan Huska has become their new head coach. Huska had been an assistant coach with the Flames for the past five years. He replaces Darryl Sutter, who was fired last month.
DAILY FACEOFF: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeting that it appears Peter Laviolette will become the new head coach of the New York Rangers. The former Washington Capitals bench boss would replace Gerard Gallant, who was fired on May 6.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson isn’t considering retirement, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Johnson is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He’d like to return with the Avs but if not, he will hit the open market.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong said he guarantees the Chicago Blackhawks will get inquiries about their willingness to part with the first-overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would take one hell of an offer to tempt Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson into trading that pick. The prize is generational center Connor Bedard, who’s been compared to Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
Some fans and pundits are dreaming up trade scenarios that would see the Blackhawks part with that pick. Don’t expect any of them to take place. The Hawks will retain that pick and select Bedard as expected.
THE ATHLETIC’s Aaron Portzline cites multiple sources indicating former NHL goaltender Niklas Backstrom will be named as the new goalie coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the sale of the Senators could be days away. He writes that the estate of the club’s late owner Eugene Melnyk is closing in on selling the team to a preferred bidder. Once an agreement in principle is reached, it will require approval from the league.
Three suitors remain in the bidding. Toronto billionaires Michael Andlauer and the Kimel brothers are believed to be the finalists. Los Angeles-based producer Neko Sparks remains in the pictures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent departure of billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos from the bidding might have sped up the evaluation process. He reportedly made the biggest bid ($1 billion USD) but withdrew over the weekend as he was apparently frustrated by the slowness of the process.
**UPDATE** The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch cites sources this morning saying Andlauer is to become the Senators’ new owner**
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Valerie Camillo is leaving her posts as president and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Flyers. She was also the club’s alternate governor.