NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2023

by | Jun 23, 2023 | News, NHL | 43 comments

Teams will not wear specialty warmup jerseys for 2023-24, four Flames stars not interested in signing contract extensions, prospect winger Matvei Michkov to meet with teams before the draft, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

SPORTSNET: In an interview with Elliotte Friedman, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league will no longer have teams wear themed jerseys for pre-game warmups. That includes Hockey Fights Cancer, military appreciation, and Pride Night.

The decision is a result of a small number of NHL players who generated headlines this season by refusing to wear Pride jerseys. Bettman said it had become a distraction that drew attention away from host nights honoring various groups and causes.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (NHL.com).

Bettman indicated those events will continue as before only without the warmup jerseys. The various jerseys will continue to be manufactured and sold to raise money for those causes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I offered up my thoughts on Ivan Provorov’s refusal to wear a Pride Jersey back in January. His decision prompted several players on a few other teams to follow suit while some clubs opted not to have their players wear Pride jerseys.

At the time, I considered the story a bump in the NHL’s road toward inclusivity. It appears there are more to come.

I think this decision is a knee-jerk reaction by the league. Judging by the reactions on social media, I’m not the only one who shares that view, though there are also folks who support this decision.

It’s good to know that the NHL will continue to stage those events for those causes they support but his decision still isn’t a good look for them. The warmup jerseys were the most visible way to express their support, especially for causes supporting minorities and the LGBTQ+ community who feel that hockey culture shuts them out.

The NHL has made some progress in addressing those issues in recent years but there is still a long way to go. I share Friedman’s hope that there can be a better solution down the road.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported the Calgary Flames could have a different look next season. Four of their best players – Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Mikael Backlund and Tyler Toffoli – don’t intend to sign contract extensions or are leaning against doing so. They’re all eligible to become unrestricted free agents next July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll all be traded this summer. Nevertheless, it’s likely that at least one of them could be shopped, perhaps by the end of the NHL draft next week (June 28-29).

The Flames hired Craig Conroy as general manager a month ago. He’s had little time to get comfortable in his new role and now faces big decisions on four key players that will shape his roster for the next several years. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Flames, they’ve hired Marc Savard as an assistant coach. A former NHL forward, Savard spent the past two seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: cites TSN’s Bob McKenzie indicated top Russian prospect Matvei Michkov will be meeting with NHL teams prior to next week’s draft. Concerns were raised among clubs interested in the promising young winger following reports that he was spurning interview requests this season.

Those concerns grew after Michkov skipped the NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo earlier this month. However, McKenzie reports that his agent has been scheduling interview times with a multitude of clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One theory had Michkov giving certain teams the cold shoulder as an attempt to manipulate where he’ll be selected in the draft. Most experts expect he’ll be chosen in the top 10, perhaps between No.4 and No. 9 in the order.

TSN: Erik Johnson’s 13 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche could be drawing to a close. Multiple reports suggest he’ll be hitting the free-agent market on July 1. He’s the longest-serving member of the Avalanche, who acquire him from the St. Louis Blues ahead of the 2011 trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Age and injuries have slowed the 35-year-old Johnson, who managed just eight points in 63 games this season. However, he’s only a year removed from 25 points in 77 games as he helped the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 2022. Contenders seeking an affordable veteran defenseman with playoff experience on a short-term contract could come calling on July 1.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils officially hired former Vancouver Canucks bench boss Travis Green as an associate coach.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Former Panthers assistant coach Derek MacKenzie has been hired by the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Washington Capitals have hired former AHL coach Mitch Love as an assistant coach.


  1. Sorry Lyle. I’m on the NHL’s side on this one. It’s a distraction and even takes away from the point of the “evening” itself. I liken the “forced” wearing of these jerseys to how people (strangely and usually the Canadian one) use the national anthem as a way to grandstand and protest something. I feel like every anthem singer has to be vetted now to see if they’re angry at someone or something. You’ll see only instrumental anthems – and then no anthems at all if that type of behavior continues.

    There are places for peaceful protest, meaningful displays on important social topics and events that show support. I don’t believe our professional sports leagues are the right venue. It’s paid entertainment. I have a number of relatives, and close friends who come under the umbrella of these causes who feel the same way. Thrusting these issues into every facet of someone’s life has the opposite effect desired. “how do you end racism?…stop talking about it”…..Morgan Freeman.

    • @DarkG, I disagree and am on the other side. As for Freeman, his statement was met with derision and was generally deemed so ridiculous that it hardly generated a response. Since when did playing ostrich and sticking your head in the sand make any issue go away? The Freeman quote is usually trotted out by “the right” in denial of racial inequality. I am not accusing you of that in any way, shape or form, it is just an observation.

      I have read your comments on here for years and never found an iota of disrespect in any of them, including the above post. Just want to make that clear.

      I would generally agree that the idea of support jerseys for any issue was fraught from the start. You draw a line in the sand, plant a flag … someone is going to challenge you. Character is in your response. I thought the NHL and the teams were showing some when the carried on but allowed, and supported, individual choices. I think sweeping the whole thing under the rug to ensure their personal warts and issues aren’t on display is the exact opposite.

  2. With all due respect, while I agree that foregoing warm up jerseys for special games is a weak response by the league, if the media hadn’t responded as if a nuclear bomb had been dropped on a major city, this would be a non-issue. Just allow players who have a problem with wearing a particular jersey, for any reason, to opt out, don’t make an issue of it and the uproar will go away.
    And anticipating negative comments, I was raised in and around San Francisco, I’ve had gay and lesbian friends all my life, and the younger of my two sons is bisexual. I couldn’t possibly care less about anyone’s orientation or identity. But I’m also a constitutionalist and think it’s wrong to force someone to do anything that violates their religious beliefs.

    • Dark G, Paul, I agree with both of you on this. It’s not a knee-jerk reaction. It’s just that the attention given to a handful of players who refused to participate overshadowed everything and obscured the inclusive message that the NHL is trying to send. Because of that, the themed jerseys became counter productive. The NHL can promote inclusivity without themed jerseys.
      Paul, the reason the media reacted to this as if a nuclear bomb had been dropped on a major city is because that’s the way they react to everything. This is a controversial issue which becomes useful for getting attention, ratings and clicks. That’s the way the 24 hour news cycle works. If it bleeds it leads.

    • While we’re at it, can somebody explain what Anthems have to do with sporting events?

      I can’t remember regularly-scheduled anthems at the:
      -post office
      -shopping mall
      -gas station
      -(insert anything other than sporting event or government-related event here)

      • You forgot to include:

        -Gentlemen’s Club

      • personally I think the anthems should go. it has nothing to do with sport.

        Also, since childhood I would laugh at watching two American teams play and they would ONLY perform the US anthem even though 75% of the players on the ice were Canadian.

      • I agree here. The anthems I’d like to see go. It’s based in tradition, which I do understand, but we simply don’t need them sung. It’s not an international event.

    • I agree with this. Just like if I were a player, I would refuse to wear the military themed jerseys. Just don’t make a big deal about it in the media.

  3. Toffoli wanting to leave is a really bad sign,

    He and Cat get along everywhere, he’s a team player all the way no matter which team.

    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

    • 100%, habfan30, if Toffoli wants out, and is open to any destination something is way off in Cow Town.
      However, every cloud has a silver lining.
      All players who reportedly won’t resign are quite desirable, and should be fairly easy to trade for equal or greater value.
      Let’s watch and see how Connie makes his bones.
      I’m rooting for him.

    • Maybe Calgary’s problems aren’t all on Sutter after all. I love it when the media ID’s a whipping boy. Eric Francis blamed Sutter for his boss Treliving leaving. Now that Sutter is gone, who is the villain in Calgary now?

      • Maybe the players simply don’t think they have a good chance to win in Calgary.

        Does anybody on here think they have a reasonable chance of winning the cup in the next 5-7 years?

        I don’t.

  4. What is wrong in Calgary ?
    Even Treliving didn’t want to be part of their future

    • Will the last player leaving Calgary please turn off the lights and lock the door on the way out.

    • When Calgary loss there 2 best players last year
      that was the start of the end….😳
      and Sutter did not help in any way

      This will be the start of a Re-build & or Re-Tool in Calgary obver the next few years,

      They need to replace 5 UFA roster spots but only have $1.250M in cap space
      So They will be trading out a few players++

      10 of there curent roster is between 30 & 36 yrs old❗️and 2 of them Huberdeau is at $10M for 8 years and Kasri is 32 for 7 years @ $7.M

      Next season 2024-2025 they have 8 more UFA
      So we are going to see a completly diffrent team in Cowtown

  5. Michkov should go second.

    Political agendas should be left out of sports or sports will eventually be left. Many season ticket holders that I know in Calgary will not renew this season, they are tired of the environment so will only go to a few games featuring teams that they really want to see. The reasons are part the player drama and part the media promoted drama.

  6. Calgary going to look like a completely different team next year but who knows maybe for the better need players who want to be there. Been to Calgary hundreds of times once a beautiful city clean and close to the mountains was one of my favorite places to go not so much anymore lots of crime and being run into the ground. Unfortunately lots of cities very similar Vancouver is worse and seems not a day goes by without someone being stabbed in Edmonton or Toronto. Personally I prefer going to a Hockey game to watch hockey hey but that’s just me. Mark Scheifele to Boston my prediction.

    • It’s weird how folks think crime rates are way up. I lived in Calgary for a decade and travel their for business every 2nd week. Was just there this week. Including downtown in the evening 2 nights, were we walked a good distance. Zero issues, the locals don’t even talk about it.

      The reason they don’t talk about it or worry about it, is because crime actually isn’t way up, in fact it is down considerably from when I moved there in 2000.

      If you want to see where crime is high in Alberta, look to the rural areas and small cities like Lloydminster (where we share a border) where the crime rate per 100K is literally more than 3 times higher than Calgary. Med Hat, Red Deer, Lethbridge, all are considerably higher than Calgary. Edmonton is higher too, always has been, but again it isn’t any worse than the “good old days”. It is also lower in Calgary and Edmonton than my home province of Saskatchewan.

      #’s don’t lie, go to the link you can check anywhere in Canada. Calgary is a safe place, your statement in not correct.

      Bottom line is crime rates have increased over the last few years, and that needs to be taken seriously and reversed, but they are nothing like when we were young and growing up Obe. That is true in the US and Canada. Crime was huge in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

      It is getting plenty of attention now as well, so we will see it addressed and it will improve or folks won’t get re-elected.

      Have a look from 1998 to 2021. Doesn’t go back further. I also attached Saskatchewan, which is where I grew up, and I think where you live.



      • Ray, we need more people like you in the media. People interested in nothing but truth and the facts. And much less of what we actually have.

  7. I agree! I think the team’s can honor Pride, Military, Minority, night etc w/o jerseys. MLB, to me, is forcing their marketing on fans with stupid uniforms they actually wear during the game. They wear colors that aren’t even the team’s colors. Stupid hats. As a young kid, that was one of the things you looked forward to going to the park and seeing your favorite teams colors, either home/away but now you go and they look like clowns? I guess I am too old but I won’t watch baseball because of that. My point is just because marketing thinks it is good idea dosen’t mean it is or just because they can, they should?

  8. The fault of no longer wearing specialty sweaters falls at the hands of the media.

    Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News tweeted rich white owners and white supremacy after the news broke. What?

    32 teams had gay pride night.

    A few players chose not to participate.

    Most teams every player did. You didn’t hear a beep from anyone in the media. That this team have gay pride night and everyone wore a jersey.

    One players doesn’t and every media outlet in two Countries are running the story.

    The media say they care, really. Then celebrate the gay pride night when every team has it. Talk about the hockey sweaters and the very cool colors and design, mention the artist who designed the sweater. How far we have come and how much further we still need to go.

    Unfortunately that doesn’t generate clicks.

    We need to lead with 6 players didn’t participate.

    Instead of 730 out of 736 players did take part in gay pride night.

    Personally, they’re still having the events, which is good just no longer wearing the sweaters. Maybe the media can now concentrate on the event and not a singular person.

    • Yeah, what he said!!!!

    • Three words across the US & Canadian borders that are the cause of crime and divisiveness. “Liberal Media narratives and/or “The anti everything movement” could be in that caldron of divisiveness as well.

  9. “I think this decision is a knee-jerk reaction by the league. Judging by the reactions on social media, I’m not the only one who shares that view”
    – Nope. It was a smart decision. A large chunk of the Western world is growing tired of woke skolds forcing ideologies on them. A sports league should be free of virtue-signaling. Just look at NCAA Women’s Swimming for proof. And I wouldn’t use `social media reactions’ as a judge of anything.

    “His decision still isn’t a good look for them. The jerseys were the most visible way to express their support for causes supporting minorities and the LGBTQ+ community”
    – Nope. It actually is a good look, because it seems reasonable. You do remember `reason`, right? It’s something Bud Light and Target have been struggling with. And the silent majority needs to continue saying ‘enough’, unless you’re ok with drag queen storytime.

    Look, do what you want in your private life. And by all means, everyone should be welcomed at sporting events. But this is not about being ‘welcomed’ at sporting events. This is about an ideological push in greater society. The fact that I could be fired for saying that I don’t think a man can be a woman should tell you all you need to know.

    • This whole debate is stupid IMO.
      Nobody is forcing any ideology on anybody. I usually defend the media on here but Caper is right this time, they blew this up way out of proportion. 730 out 736 players participated.

      If you don’t want to be gay or trans or whatever, don’t be. If you can’t deal with 10 minutes of players wearing brightly colored jerseys, don’t watch.

      Personally I don’t think it is a choice as why would anybody choose to sneered at by a significant portion of the population. And if you think that isn’t reality, look no further than some of the reaction to this debate whether it is the NHL, Bud Lite or Target. Some folks were/are downright angry at Bud and Target when it has no impact on their own lives.

      This is about including folks who are usually outside of hockey and inviting them in. That’s it.

      I played the game for 41 years, and also coached it. I never played with, or coached anyone who was openly gay, or whatever.

      And regarding should a biological male be allowed to compete with females in NCAA sports? Of course not, it isn’t fair, that’s obvious, and I would bet a paycheck that won’t be allowed within a year or 2.

      Chill folks.

    • “Nope. It was a smart decision. A large chunk of the Western world is growing tired of woke (sic)skolds forcing ideologies on them.”

      It is exactly this type of reactionary thinking and attitude that makes it important to wear the sweaters.

      People need to stand up and say enough to bigots claiming to represent the silent majority.

      Terms like politically correct and woke, meant to express manners and acceptance of others have become pejoratives in the mouths of an emboldened segment of the population that is a very vocal minority.

      wink wink nod nod has been replaced by openly espoused bigotry.

      • nailed it habsfan

      • They don’t represent ‘silent majority’, it’s more like ‘loud minority’.

    • You’re in the wrong place banger. I think you got bad directions. I think you might have made one too many rights when a left here or there would have helped.

      • Well said, HF30 and Chrisms.

        Chrisms, bonus points for the subtle wit.

        And you’re right, Banger. We know all we need to know about you.

    • The only reason I agree with the assessment of Bud Light and Target is those companies should know their demographic is close minded rednecks mostly so of COURSE if they want to show love and acceptance to other human beings in their marketing they will lose business.

    • Well said and totally agree!

    • You’ll notice that I kept my opinion out of my response. That ends now. I’m so conservative that I make Trump and DeSantis look liberal. I support LGBT (and whatever else) rights. Remember, there are only two kinds of people, the honorable and a$$holes. All else is unimportant detail.
      That does not mean I support the extremist LGBTQ+ political agenda. It does mean that I think you suffer from cranial-anal insertion syndrome. (That’s a polite way of saying that you have your head up your a$$. Since your Neanderthal views suggest a lack of intelligence.)

  10. What happens if – when players decide on their own to wear jerseys or rainbow tape etc. league punish them? This might only be the start of the nhls pr nightmare

    • Chrism, I don’t think it will be an issue at.

      Some players put black or white tape.

      If players choose to put rainbow tape on their stick or go a step farther has a stick designed in rainbow colors. 🌈 who should care?

      The big difference is it’s not being mandated.

      Unless the league has regulations on the color of sticks, tape etc.

      What if a goalie put 🌈 on their mask or goalie pads?

      Unless the league has regulations on these items. Which I don’t know if they do or don’t.

      I’m guessing there is some regulations on goalie pads because we don’t see any design now. I would have a design that f with your eyes.

      I don’t think it would be an issue but until someone does something different we won’t know.

      • I’m talking about from a pr point. If players were to stage their own jerseys then this will be back in the news highlighting the whole division within the league. Players will be championed as open minded and welcoming and also as woke activists. I think this attempt to sweep issue under the rug may not work is all.

      • Chrism your suggesting a player might wear his own design sweater during the pre game? Personally don’t see it.

      • Maybe not. But there were a a lot of vocal players out there that were pro pride those jerseys. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to do an anti provarov.

  11. @Chrisms When you label players as “woke activist’s” You re-open the can of worms that the regular majority of people want no part of like the Bud Light, Target and Disney campaigns that went horribly wrong and cost billions of dollars and fans/customers that will never come back.

    • Well those type of fans/customers are a dying breed, so I think corporations are playing the long game.

    • I didn’t label them that rob. Read again. I said they would be labeled that by some. And by others labeled as fighters for equality

  12. Candidly, specialty warm-up jerseys were never a “distraction” until they became Pride themed.

    My point being, no one complained about military, heritage, or other themes. All of which are not applicable to all people.

    So why does Pride become an issue? I mean come on; we don’t have to cover for bigotry. We know who is upset, people who dislike the LGBTQ community.

    If this upsets you so much, look inward as to why you carry that hate in your heart. But save your mental gymnastics trying to justify your views. People aren’t dumb, we know why the Pride jerseys so suddenly started to offend. You’re just hateful.