NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2023
Nicklas Backstrom talks about his recovery from hip resurfacing, the Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov and the Blackhawks’ Philipp Kurashev face arbitration, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
Backstrom, 34, indicated that he’d been dealing with chronic hip pain since 2015 which eventually worsened, affecting his play and quality of life away from the arena. Since the procedure, he said that he’s gotten his life back and is confident he’ll be even stronger for the Capitals in the coming season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom missed the first half of last season recovering from the procedure, finishing with 21 points in 39 games. At the end of last season, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan expressed uncertainty over whether he could fully regain his form.
Backstrom’s performance will likely be the main focus when Washington’s training camp opens in September. Improvement in his play will be a significant factor in the outcome of the Capitals’ 2023-24 season.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs and goaltender Ilya Samsonov are $2.5 million apart in their salary arbitration filings. Samsonov seeks a one-year contract worth $4.9 million while the Leafs countered with $2.4 million. The two sides have until Friday to reach an agreement on a new contract before the scheduled arbitration hearing.
THE ATHLETIC: The Chicago Blackhawks and forward Philipp Kurashev have yet to reach an agreement on a new contract with an arbitration hearing slated for Thursday. It appears that this will go before an arbitrator. Kurashev seeks a one-year, $2.65 million deal while the Blackhawks seek a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.4 million.
SEATTLE HOCKEY INSIDER: The Kraken signed head coach Dave Hakstol to a two-year contract extension through 2025-26.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken’s performance this season landed Hakstol that extension. They reached the playoffs in just their second season of existence. He was a finalist in 2022-23 for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.
ESPN.COM: New NHL Players Association executive director Marty Walsh is focused on getting NHL players involved in the 2026 Milano Cortina Olympic Winter Games in Italy. He indicated that he’s been working with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, collectively together with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL last participated in the Winter Olympics in 2014.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former NHL defenseman Markus Nutivaara said he doesn’t miss playing hockey after a hip injury prematurely ended his playing career. The 29-year-old announced his retirement two weeks ago.
Nutivaara began to feel the effects of the injury in 2019-20. He said that when his hip failed to improve, his back started to fail and other problems flared up. “I skated on one leg for three years,” he said. He indicated that he underwent two operations to address osteoarthritis in his hip until the doctors informed him they could do no more.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: During the interview, Nutivaara said his hip is still pretty bad. He took the time to praise the San Jose Sharks for their support, singling out his Finnish teammates as well as Sharks icon Joe Thornton.
Nutivaara also warned young players off taking painkillers. He said that he took them often during the 2019-20 season, indicating that he felt stomach pain doing so. He said it wasn’t worthwhile to continue his playing career if he needed painkillers to do it.
TSN: Nate Thompson has announced his retirement following his 15-season NHL career. He last played in 2021-22 with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 38-year-old forward scored 65 goals and collected 99 assists over 844 career games with the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets and Flyers.