NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2023
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.
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.