NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2023

by | Jun 15, 2023 | News, NHL | 35 comments

Updates on the Golden Knights and Panthers following the Stanley Cup Final, Jason Spezza joins the Penguins, the Blue Jackets hire Niklas Backstrom, Henri Richard posthumously diagnosed with CTE and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo celebrated his club’s Stanley Cup victory with his four-year-old daughter Evelyn. He revealed that he was ready to give up his playing career six months ago as Evelyn battled encephalitis in November, stripping her of her motor skills.

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (NHL Images).

Pietrangelo took time off from the Golden Knights to be with Evelyn for however long it took for her recovery. Fortunately, she responded well to treatment and he returned to the Golden Knights in Dec. 17 following a nine-game absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will take months before Evelyn has fully recuperated but she appears to be well on her way toward a complete recovery.

DAILY FACEOFF: Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault received 13 of 18 first-place votes for the Conn Smythe Trophy from the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA). Teammate Jack Eichel received the other five votes.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights Stanley Cup parade and rally will take place on Las Vegas Boulevard (aka The Strip) on Saturday, June 17 at 7 pm local time.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers are disappointed over the way their playoff run ended but they’re determined to become Stanley Cup champions. “We want to be that group that celebrates,” said Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov. “I want to say we’ll be back here and we’ll lift the Cup. We will get back to work with this same group and it’ll be fun again.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Salary-cap constraints and the upcoming free-agent market will put a dent into the Panthers roster. The series with Vegas revealed their need to bolster their depth (especially their defense corps) but the roster core remains intact for 2023-24. That will provide a solid group for management to build around but it could take time before they’re back in the Cup Final.

It was also revealed that forward Sam Bennett was playing hurt in the postseason, joining Matthew Tkachuk, Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour and Radko Gudas among their walking wounded. Forward Eetu Luostarinen missed the Stanley Cup Final with a lower-leg injury.

ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reported Montour played with a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery. He could be sidelined for three months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Montour undergoes surgery in June he could be recovered before the start of the season in October.


PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins named Jason Spezza as their new assistant general manager. Spezza spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a special assistant to then-general manager Kyle Dubas, who is now the Penguins’ president of hockey operations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt anyone’s surprised that Spezza followed Dubas to Pittsburgh. He resigned from his position with the Leafs following Dubas’ firing as general manager.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets officially named former NHL goaltender Niklas Backstrom as their new goaltending coach. His priority will be to help starting goaltender Elvis Merzlikins bounce back from a disastrous performance in 2022-23. He must also help in the development of promising Daniil Tarasov.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Backstrom was rumored to become the Jackets’ new goalie coach for the past several days.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens star Henri Richard was posthumously diagnosed with advanced CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a degenerative brain disease associated with concussions and repeated head trauma.

Richard played 20 seasons with the Canadiens and won 11 Stanley Cups. He’s the 16th of 17 deceased players found to have CTE, including Bob Probert, Stan Mikita and Ralph Backstrom.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has maintained that there is no proven link between playing competitive hockey and long-term brain trauma.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Richard’s posthumous CTE diagnosis to change Bettman’s tune. Doing so would open up the league to lawsuits from the families of those deceased players and from living players whose careers were ended by concussion-related injuries.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Hockey Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek traveled to war-torn Ukraine at the country’s request. “I went to support Ukraine and Ukrainian hockey,” said Hasek. “So it can be played this year and next winter so that new halls can be built.” He’s calling on the NHL to help Ukraine rebuild its hockey infrastructure following the end of the current conflict.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The St. Louis Blues hired former NHL defenseman Mike Weber as an assistant coach and Michael Babcock as skills coach. Weber spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Babcock (son of veteran NHL coach Mike Babcock) was a development coach with the Ottawa Senators.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ethan Bear will undergo shoulder surgery this month. It’s believed his recovery could be four-to-five months. Bear is slated to become a restricted free agent on July 1.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers made qualifying offers to five players, including Noah Cates, Morgan Frost and Cam York.

TSN: The NHL’s first contract buyout window opens on June 15 and runs through June 30 at 5 pm ET.

PUCK PEDIA: The arbitration walk-away number will remain at $4,538,958. Teams can walk away from any arbitration ruling above that rate.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Tickets are on sale for the 2024 NHL Winter Classic at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Jan. 1, 2024.


  1. Will anyone be surprised if VGK buys out Lehner and signs Hill to a 3-4 year deal very soon?

  2. That is if Lehner is coming back. Or will they have him ride LTIR next year????? And can they buy him out if he is still hurt?

    • Hi JZ

      Could be wrong; but I’m fairly sure a player still on LTIR can’t be bought out

      • @ Pengy..What’s up Pengy?

        We usually are spot on about our Penguins and agree pretty much 90% of the time. We agree to disagree on whose better Gibson or Jarry and the Pierre O Joseph.

        POJ is solid, but he is a good trade chip, he is young, and his value is higher now.
        He could help bring back a good piece whether it is a goalie or something else.

        Rapid fire here yes or No—————

        Goalies (who is your starting goalie?
        Jarry No
        Gibson 1 st choice
        Korpasalo 2nd choice
        Varlamov 3rd choice
        Demkno 4th choice
        Helly too expensive

        i take Gibson

        Fill out our top six d corp ideal (trades etc)
        Ptersson Letang
        Graves Dumba
        Ty Smith Rutta

        Who is your third line center

        I’m going Ryan O’reilly

        If you have to move one off these players who would you move (i know there are no movement clauses modified trade team list but if you could who goes ?

        Brian Rust
        Jake Guentzel
        Jeff Petry
        Rickard Rakell

        I would move Jeff Petry first then second Brian Rust

      • Mitchell is a stain on the entire Bruins organization!Shame on them for not doing their homework! Someone s head should roll for this.I wonder how Jacobs likes to pay this kid?

    • They can’t buy him out unless he is healthy and cleared to play. LTIR makes sense, but what happens should Lehner suddenly get cleared to play a month into the season? Not knowing is going to hamstring LVK.

      • Same situation with Toronto and Matt Murray. In fact, wasn’t he dressed as back-up to Woll in their final games?

  3. Hopes and prayers out for full recovery for Evelyn

    Family first

    Congrats to Spezz; welcome aboard. First order of business for Spezz…. Remind Dubas to buy out Granlund ….. THIS morning

    Congrats again out to March… right choice

    Knew Cats dealing with injuries; didn’t know the extent. Not saying a healthy Cats team wins cup; but I do feel series likely goes at least 6 games. Best team in playoffs won. Plain and simple. But healthy Cats; IMHO; win another game.

    Re : “Don’t expect …. to change Bettman’s tune”. The words in the “…” from above quote could be switched with many things…. Bettman absolutely refuses to admit his errors…. Just 3 examples……re concussions/CTE/hockey links; hiring and sticking with Paros as head of DOPS; hockey in Arizona ….. etc etc etc

    Gary, please retire. I said please.

    Owners…make him an offer he can’t refuse…. Give him $50 M to quit; then split $400 M (at least) relo fees; when team moves (likely) to Houston; as first order of business of next Commish

    • Ummmm. The owners generally love bettman. Look at Ottawa. Look how much the value of teams has skyrocketed under Gary’s leadership. Good luck convincing them to can their golden goose.

      • Second that. The league has never been healthier.

      • The league may be healthy, as are all of the major sports leagues, but it has nothing to do with Bettman or with any other commissioners or individuals. Things would be no different with anyone else as commissioner.

      • Howard nailed it

        I’ll go further…. Bettman retires/bought out… next commissioner automatically relocates from the 4,600 desert barn to ANYWHERE else…. That would sell out minimum 18,000 @ higher avg. ticket prices; and TV audience for Yotes games; sky-rockets

        I’d like to think (hope) that next commish relieves Paros of his duties; but not guaranteed

        Relo under a new commish guaranteed

        Remember…. With relo

        Owners gain $’s …. HUGE (relo fees AND massive increase to HRR)

        With huge increases in HRR… Cap increases; players share 50% of HRR…. So huge gain to players

        Fan base increases…. Massively

        New relo city benefits tremendously (economically)

        TV viewership increases

        NHL visibility increases

        More more more
        Better better better

        *Even Marauelo and Barroway benefit huge…. (A) if the keep team and relo…. Relo fees well more than compensated for by increase in value of franchise; and immediate flip from serious annual losses to serious annual profits ; (B) selling team ; wipes annual debts from this asset; gains massive profit on sale

        Just one guy and one guy only holding things up…..

      • True, Chris, but the league will have to deal with the impact of head injuries eventually.
        Post-Bettman, it seems.

      • Well we can prove bettman was in the lead through this growth Howard. You can’t prove your statement. Of the big four leagues he is the longest serving commissioner. Shows faith by the owners.

        And yes you are probably right bc. And morally Gary in this position on cte is wrong. But in regards to faith by the owners you think they want to deal with the lawsuits? Nah.

    • Well, Pengy, for what it’s worth, in The Athletic’s list of probable buyout candidates, Granlund is listed:

      Kailer Yamamoto – Edm
      Ryan Suter – Dallas (2nd time for Suter)
      Mike Reilly – Bos
      Mitchell Miller – Bos
      Mikael Granlund – Pit
      Mat Murray – Tor
      Anthony Mantha – Wash
      Chris Dreidger – Sea
      Marco Scandella – StL
      Patrik Nemeth – Ariz
      Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Van
      Brock Boeser – Van
      Conor Garland – Van

      How many of the above – if indeed bought out – will get a new deal somewhere else in the NHL?

      • Mitchell miller to Ottawas what heard George 😝

      • Hey, maybe Dubas brings Matt Murray back to Pittsburgh if and when he’s bought out.

      • Worth noting George that several of these players who are long gone from the league but still being paid were compliance buyouts. So at least they’re not taking up cap space.

      • Good point Howard.

      • Hi George

        TSN & SN had top 2 same…. I agree fully re Yammo as number 1…. <26… buyout is 1/3rd not 2/3rds

        They had Granlund 3rd (not 5th as Atletic has)

        To me …. No brainer…. Owners rich…. Move purely for Cap reasons

        Brutal $5 M cap hit for 2 more years…..Ownership snd Dubas concur on still going for it

        Buyout….. saves $4.2M then $3.2 M in Cap

        Just buyout/replace with Nylander…, team younger, bigger, faster, stronger; better…. AND net $3.4 M and $2.4 M in Cap savings over next 2 years

        That’s $3.4 M and $2.4 M of very valuable space

        The only downside (and it is minuscule) is $1.8 M dead cap space … 3 years from now(when window definitely closed AND more importantly; Cap north of $82 M)

        Suter buyout absolutely makes zero sense…. Per CapFriendly …. It’s a 35+ contract….. Stars get zero Cap relief from the buyout; only save cash…. $2.9 M!!!

        Bruins do need space

        Buyouts for

        Reily: saves $2.7 M this year; $1.3 M dead cap following year…. Makes perfect sense…. Just less valuable a buyout than Granlund’s

        Mitchell Miller as a buyout option????? Very strange…. He will not affect Cap as he is currently in minors; AND makes just $860 K . He’s only 21 tears old; zero Cap savings…. To save rich owner $1M cash????

      • That OEL contract would hurt more as a buyout then just letting it run during a rebuild. I know they say they won’t rebuild but this would be the perfect time. Let OEL keep you above the salary floor while you sell off and gather picks and prospects.

      • Re Miller – no, just to remove the slug from any connection to the Bruins organization and reverse a mistake.

      • Hi George & Pengy

        I dont think the Oiler’s will buy out Yamo,…
        they just cant aford his $3.1M cap hit
        thats why they want to move him out he is still young but not fitting in on the top six in Edmonton….

        He had 20 goals in the 21-22 season and 10 goals this year but was out injured for 32 games
        a re-building team may take him…🤔

      • Hi WillieW

        Yammo for sure should be bought out.

        Trading will cost Oilers an asset; and they can’t keep him

        Current Cap hit $3.1

        His buyout…. a measly $0.4 M— $2.7 M; with dead cap in 24/25 (when Cap goes up a minimum of $3M more)—- just $0.5 M

        $2.7 M towards say… Soucy’s contract??? just a thought

    • Pengy are you an Allan Walsh one in the same?

      Almost sound like you both want the NHL to fail just so it looks bad on Bettman.

      The NHL isn’t where it is today without Bettman leadership.

      Folks are surprised he didn’t get booed in Vegas. Why would he, he brought the team there.

      • Hi Caper

        On the contrary

        I want NHL to succeed at its best and maximize the future

        This just can’t hapoen under Bettman

        See Howard’s response above

        I fully agree

        Regardless of who is commish…. NHL would have done the gains

        Betman didn’t bring Vegas on board…. He was the commissioner WHEN it happened

        Vegas was happening regardless… Expansion time was there; 31 teams with less in West…. And Vegas exploding with pop; economy etc etc…. It was happening with or without Betman. The committee examining the bids said take both Vegas and QC; Gary kept LV; nixed QC

        He didn’t seek out Vegas….Vegas sought out the NHL

        On the flip… it was Gary…. Full tilt on Phoenix when Jets were to be relocated.

        He was told over and over and over the projections showed that this market would not succeed

        He ignored them then; and he’s ignored them since even with every subsequent set if projections showing worse outcomes than the previous

        He then embraced the failure of at least 4 years at the barn…. Costing players and owners $ M and $Ms and $M

        Then he felt he could slough it off on the Tempe voters… and could “hide” behind their vote


        They turned it down…. And staying (if he doesn’t retire and keeps flogging this failure) now guarantees 4 more (not 3 more) years of massive $Ms lost

        He has publicly said that he’d still like to keep them there…. This was AFTER the vote and AFTER he had publicly stated late in ‘22…. We’ll leave it up to the voters in Tempe…. They said NO Gary…. NO !!!!

        I stand behind this….. no other commissioner would have kept flogging (for 2 plus decades) a sustained decision that massively crimps the increase in fan base and concurrently costs owners AND players…., $M and $M and $M

        No other commissioner would have done thus… none

        If you are a CEO of any organization; there are times you double down on a losing entity; in the hopes (and with some logic; expectations) that the long term upside is greater than the current and short term losses

        He was the inly one with hopes; and had been shown repeatedly…. Zero expectations that it would work out in the long run

        Well…. Gary is well past doubling down

        Forget tripling down
        Quadrupling? Quintupling ?

        Keep going

        Then….. keep going

        Then after that…. Keep going;

        Then …. Kerp going

        And etc etc etc

        I stand behind…. Gary retirement/or buyout….. HUGE positive impact on the NHL; owners; players; fans; and if all of those gain…. Spin off positives economically

        Time to go Gary

      • You’re talking out both sides of your mouth pengy. Gary is solely somehow responsible for Arizona but has zero responsibility for vegas? You just invalidated your entire argument.

      • Bettman brought the team there AND the cup! 🤨

    • Pengy you do realize Bettman is the mouthpiece of the owners and he does what they tell him in lock step. Gary B has made the NHL owners more money than they ever imagined, and grown the league to new heights. The Coyotes are the one black eye that never goes away getting worse by the year. The owners will give the Coyotes every chance they can to stay in AZ then its Houston like the owners want, and when Gary B retires it will likely be Bill Daley as commish which will be hated like Gary for doing what the owners tell him.

  4. As a hockey fan, i like a good physical game; however i’ve evolved enough to question certain aspects of the game.

    Not to pick on any one thing but the scrums after the whistle and stick shots, falling on players and giving them a cross check to the head.

    The play where Stall was holding Hague and Tkatchuk skates up and punches him in the face, then Bennett does the same.

    Can we get rid of the crap after the whistle, and when things like the above happen it’s an automatic ejection from the game.

    Here Lyles post about CTE, so why would we want players taking unnecessary shots to the head that could potentially lead to life time damage down the road.

    Players falling down, then an opposing players deliberately fall on top of him and cross check him in the back of the head.

    Play whistle to whistle any scrums after the whistle could lead to a suspension.

    The 10 minutes misconducts handed out is a good start and if they at minimum keep going with that in the regular season it will help eliminate some of the garbage.

    • Amen brother. This “physicality” in the playoffs is too much, man.

    • Iwmcb I appreciate your sarcasm and joy for physical hockey.

      I also enjoy physical hockey

      My opinion is on the after whistle nonsense and to quote Kevin Bieska “either drop the gloves and punch someone in the face, or let’s go to the parking lot get in our cars and go home, the rest is just nonsense. ” not the exact quote but you get the point.

      Play physical, play hard and play between the whistle.

      Kind of silly to have a gathering after every single whistle and once your behind to start taking more liberties after the whistle.

  5. Some of these guys are being shopped like Monahan was last year.

    Future considerations (0) and a sweetener (draft pick) to be off the books.

  6. Hi WillieW

    Yammo for sure should be bought out.

    Trading will cost Oilers an asset; and they can’t keep him

    Current Cap hit $3.1

    His buyout…. a measly $0.4 M— $2.7 M; with dead cap in 24/25 (when Cap goes up a minimum of $3M more)—- just $0.5 M

    $2.7 M towards say… Soucy’s contract??? just a thought