NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2023

by | Aug 31, 2023 | News, NHL | 14 comments

The 2023-24 US national TV broadcast schedule is released, the Maple Leafs extend coach Sheldon Keefe’s contract, an update on Capitals winger Max Pacioretty, Carl Hagelin retires and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The US national television for 2023-24 was released yesterday. It begins with an Oct. 10 tripleheader on ESPN featuring the Chicago Blackhawks and 2023 first-overall pick Connor Bedard facing off against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights will host the Seattle Kraken while the Nashville Predators visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.

TNT has a doubleheader on Oct 11 with Bedard and the Blackhawks journeying to Boston to face the Bruins while the Los Angeles Kings and Pierre-Luc Dubois host the Colorado Avalanche.

Other games on note on the schedule see the Golden Knights visiting the Seattle Kraken for the 2024 Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at T-Mobile Stadium, the 2024 All-Star Game in Toronto on Feb. 3 and the two-day Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In that series, the New Jersey Devils take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 17 followed by the New York Rangers and New York Islanders on Feb. 18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link above for a complete listing of notable games and the full TV broadcast schedule.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs extended the contract of head coach Sheldon Keefe by two years to 2025. Since taking over the role in November 2019, he has a regular-season record of 166 wins, 71 losses and 30 overtime losses. They’ve qualified for the playoffs in each season but have won just one series, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the 2023 playoffs in six games.

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big vote of confidence in Keefe by Brad Treliving, who replaced Kyle Dubas as general manager on May 31. He said that Keefe was “really transparent and honest and accountable for what’s going on here,” praising his coach’s self-critique.

Keefe’s postseason woes are in part due to the way the Leafs were constructed under Treliving’s predecessor. Nevertheless, he’s faced criticism by some fans and pundits for being out-coached at times during previous postseason series. His extended contract won’t provide much protection from his detractors if the Leafs come up short in the playoffs again.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Max Pacioretty officially joined the Washington Capitals on Wednesday as he watched from the stands at the club’s practice facility while his children got in some practice. The 34-year-old winger signed a one-year contract with the Capitals in July.

Pacioretty is still rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn Achilles last season. He expects to be ready to play with the Capitals soon after the regular season begins in October. Pacioretty also said he knows why he suffered the same injury twice in one year but he’s not yet comfortable sharing the details.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, winger Carl Hagelin has announced his retirement citing an eye injury suffered during practice in March 2022 that sidelined him for the entire 2022-23 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hagelin spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and the Capitals. He won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017. In 713 regular-season games, Hagelin scored 110 goals and 186 assists for 296 points. He also tallied 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points in 141 playoff contests.

CBS SPORTS: NHL defenseman Jason Demers recently informed San Jose Hockey Now’s Sheng Peng that he is unlikely to continue his playing career as he pursues a media role with the San Jose Sharks. The 35-year-old defenseman has played 700 regular-season NHL games with the Sharks, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins signed winger Austin Wagner to a professional tryout offer (PTO) yesterday.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of PTO contracts, the Hurricanes are bringing in forward Nick Shore, who last played in the NHL in 2019-20 with the Winnipeg Jets.

THE SCORE: The WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes have hired former Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters as their new bench boss. Peters re-signed as Flames head coach in November 2019 after it was revealed he used racial slurs toward former NHL player Akim Aliu during their time with the AHL’s Rockford Icehogs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peters apologized to Aliu during his press conference announcing his hiring with the Hurricanes. The club indicated that he had undergone anti-racism counseling and a coaching certification program. However, Aliu said that Peters has never spoken to him personally, adding that his former coach recently tried to get a third coach involved to speak with Aliu on his behalf to facilitate a conversation.


  1. I was never a Dubas supporter
    The constant line juggling was annoying

    Hopefully Keefe can be his “own” guy – we will see

    I am totally passionate with – Bertuzzi and Domi editions

    The whole lineup will play more assertive with the addition of Reeves , and players won’t be thrown around like RAG dolls , with a more belligerent , confident lineup

    With Bodie off the books at year end – Nylander signing is very do able , plus he WANTS to remain a LEAF !

    • Hi Ken

      Agree with most…. But re-upping WW…. just makes Cap situation worse

      The formula of spending ALMOST 1/2 cap on 4 Fwds , has not worked…. Re-upping WW , at a very minimum , would have Leafs starting next season in and around 52% on 4 Fwds

      His history of holdouts has already kicked the Leafs into this Cap quagmire …. Dooby capitulated, giving AM and MM the complete upper hand in their subsequent negotiations…. Resulting in shorter terms and higher Caps than they would have gotten if Dooby had not capitulated

      This hold out will be a distraction

      Do I want WW on team… yep…. Just can’t fit the whole thing in and be successful

      His production and recent AM contract extension, plus current contract of MM …. Makes him certainly worth more than the $9 M Tre is offering (and more than Leafs can afford)

      They sign him at what he is willing (and is worth BTW)…, guess how much that inflates MM’s next contract…. Making 52% (for start of ‘25) for 4 Fwds… not feasible either

      The 23 non LTIR (Murray/Muzzin) and IR (Robertson)…. Already have a cap hit of $85.7 M ($2.2 M over)…. And Leafs D is not dept playoff calibre

      Love the grit added…. But best move all around…

      Would be WW for a top 4 D (in around $4.5 M – $5.2 M Cap hit)….the savings in Cap overall, plus sending a depth player to Marlies…, gets Leafs under Cap to start the year

      Paying WW $2 M per (tax free) hidden and off-book (Swiss bank account) and re-upping him at $7 M by 8 works …., just ain’t happenin’

      Something has to be done

      I don’t like the “own rental” , let him walk for free next summer strategy….solves the here and now Cap wise… but full year of distraction…. And Leafs probability (already fairly low) of cup in ‘24…. Unchanged …. Actually with the public distraction…. Perhaps even lowering the probability a bit

      Tre keeps brimming with confidence as he is not looking past Atlantic

      Leafs finishing 1st in Atlantic….. very fair probability

      Beating WC1 …. First round…. Likely

      Winning Div finals…. Yep fair chance

      Oooops Tre… you forgot …. Canes….. or ??

      Let’s not even consider trying to get a team that could compete head to head with the reigning champs; or Avs; ….Oil?

      I’m hankerin’ for a Leaf cup….. just don’t see it in the cards with this line up

      Additions of Domi/Bert…. Excellent

      To me… not yet tipping the scales

      The penultimate fix that gets them across the finish line also isn’t likely at all to happen @ TDL

      WW for D upgrade…. Gedderdone

      • Pengy, I seem to remember Willie giving in, not Dubas?
        Nylander called him back literally at the 11th hour before he would have to sit the entire season. And the contract is a good deal for the Leafs even after years of a unpredictable flat cap. Heck if the cap had risen, as everyone expected, that contract would be viewed as a steal.

        Marner’s is the head shaker deal IMO. And we have debated the Tavares decision to death, again much easier with hindsight. But a year less would sure help the Leafs now wouldn’t it? But, you also wouldn’t have Tavares because he doesn’t sign in TOR for 6 years IMO.

        Is there a chance Tre is thinking; Tavares is gone in 2 years, what will this offence look like with him and Willie gone?

        I would be.

      • Who the crap is WW? Sometimes your use of initials makes me unsure who you are talking about… even after looking at the roster…

      • Pengy “Agree with most…. But re-upping WW…. just makes Cap situation worse”!
        How can WN’s 6.9 mil be the reason for Leafs cap problems? Isn’t Tavares 11 mil or Marners 10+ mil s bigger problem, together with Shann/Dubas decision to give those contracts and think WN would take 2.5? IMHO WN did the right thing to hold out.

      • Totally agree and add depth in goal, and unless the Leafs give up some scoring for to prevent scoring against it will never change, also I would even add two top 4 D as one may not be enough.

      • Hi Ray

        Nope re capitulation

        Yes re WW calling

        Dooby said final offer (two weks before) But if not taken will make you sit

        WW called last minute; bumped it by $300 K

        If Dooby had not given in (;yes, correct statement); WW sitd the year; no change in Leafs outcome that year; and then Dooby has upper hand on final negotiation/contract on all 3 (WW, AM, MM)

        I had posted at the time that that capitulation would end up costing (collectively on the 3) at least $4M extra in Cap (that could be better spent on D).

        Burkie (who I rarely see eye to eye with)…. Actually said live on Hockey Night in Canada; a few months after my post re Dooby and referring to WW….. “He shouldn’t have agreed to his terms; he should have made him sit the year. That move cost the Leafs between $3.5 M and $5 M in annual Cap between the three that they should have been spending elsewhere” (very very close to word for word; buy can’t remember exact….. totals and sitting and what they should have spent on and why is accurate

        Not a chance he was reading my post…. But he and I and many other in media saw it the same way…. Young GM bullied into wring decision; costing leafs then; and still continuing to do so

        Re Tavares gave ne in 2 and tre thinking long term…. No I think he definitely should trade the asset at its Peak….

        40-47-87 in 82 GP; basically last playoffs PPG; scoring at key times; Cap hit just shy of $7M; but only owed $2.5 M still

        I truly believe trade him for 2nd pairing D (in the $5 M Cap range) is the way to go

        The Saint

        Sorry. Single fat finger typing on cell phone with bad eyes…. Makes mr lazy and I use shorthand

        WW (Weee Willy Nylander)
        JT John Tavares
        AM Austen Mathews
        MM Mitch Marner
        Dooby…. Kyle Dubas
        Burkie ….. Brian Burke…. Former GM and/or President of Hockey operations of Nucks, Leafs; Pens etc etc

        Hi DB

        Tavares contract was going rate at time

        The Nylander capitulation (by Dubas) gave the Mathew’s and Marner’s agent/team the upper hand in negotiations the following spring/summer…. See above. If WW sat that year (as he should)…. Dubas would easily have got better contracts (term and for less) for all 3


        Agree re 2 top 4…. But they are already over; and without major trade….. can’t get even one

        To all on this short thread…. In summary …. Leafs can’t afford him at what he’s worth; can’t afford the distraction; can’t afford for him to walk for nothing; need help from the Blueline back if they want to get to the promised land

      • We will have to disagree on this one Pengy. And Burke, who I often agree with, as well.

        IMO $300K is not capitulation. Dubas won, he knew it, Willie knew it, he chose not to spike the ball in the face of one of his best young players.

        Each player is different, each negotiation is different, but the leverage was the same, regardless of what Nylander got.

        Bottom line is Nylander was not an overpayment. Dubas got what he wanted, not Nylander.

        So how can not overpaying the first guy lead to over paying the 2nd guy? Might make a good TV hit between periods, but sorry, I don’t understand that logic.

        Because of $300K he overspent $5M on the other guys?

      • Hi Ray

        Sorry if it cane across that $300 K made the difference

        It was the capitulation

        Nylander camp left Leafs high and dry until the last minute; then squeezed thr extra 300 K on top

        If Dubas had just made him sit the year…. All power (for then negotiating the 3 contracts) … would have been in his hands

        Instead….. it showed both the Mathew’s and Marner’s camps….. we can force the issue; he’ll cave

        All power gone…. Collectively (the 3 contracts) ended up $4 M – $5 M annually (my take); $3.5 M – $5 M (Burke live on HNIC) more than they could havr been; and for shorter terms

        Tavares contract had little at all bearing… he got the going expected rate (within $500 K) and Tavares had s better offer already on the table

        The Cap trouble is due to the other 3 contracts…. of course and flat cap (but all teams in same boat)… coming in at $29.5 M (as at now); instead of in the $25 M to max $26 M range

        Dubas was not strong in his negotiations…. And it cost Leafs

        Regardless of cause…. Leafs just can’t afford a min 52% stake for 4 Fwds to start the 24/25 season

  2. I get the PTO thing…. But Pens (with Guentz injured) have only 5 top 6 forwards; and 9 fourth line NHL contracts

    No true 3rd liners (especially the key 3C position)

    If Sid or Gino get injured …… hmmmm at 36 and 37 , what’s the odds?…. Then Pens have absolutely nobody that can step up to 2C….. no one

    The only true value PTO they have right now is Psyk….. why? ….. his value is in the fact that he not only can, but has, been a successful depth player at BOTH RW and RD

    Dressing 12-6-2 always has the risk of a D going down, then one blocked shot or ejection and your down to 4

    4th liners get very low minutes

    Dressing Psyk at 4RW with low minutes…. Will make zero difference to any other Pens 4RW being in….. but none of those others can jump up and play D if a D-man goes down

    Re PTO for Tater Tots…. Gedderdone

    Dooby a few weeks ago touted that he expects Guentz COULD be back by late Oct

    His Dr’s however said “re-evaluation” AFTER 12 weeks…. Meaning games 1-6 are a definite miss…. Hard to believe he’d miraculously be approved (@ re-evaluation) and play next day (game 7)

    Games 7-10….home to .Avs, Sens , Ducks… then 10th game is @ Sharks

    Why rush him ….. likely his best (healthiest) return opportunity…. Is travelling on road to Sharks (game 10)

    That’s one game…. And it’s prob a best case scenario

    Better…. Start him LTIR….. so he misses Sharks game, THEN returns….. but allows Tater Tots to be signed; AND start season with full 23

    At game 11…. With Guentz coming back…. At that point …. Likely only in and around $2 M needed to be “freed” up…. And that’s if no one else is on LTIR by that time

    The roster below; game 11 onward…. Fits in the Cap

    Sid Guentz Rakell

    Gino Rusty Smith

    Eller **Tater-Tots; one of Nylander, Poulin, or O’Connor

    4th line Carter, two of Nylander, Poulin, or O’Connor

    Depth Fwd…*Psyk



    Friedman or Smith, P-O J

    7th: Friedman or Smith
    Depth : *Psyk


    **Assumes Tater-Tots at $2 M max

    Dream…. Healthy Toews signs as 3C just before trade- deadline

  3. Hi Lyle

    I’m curious if you have or can relay any concrete information regarding the 2018 team Canada scandel.

    There is stories out that 5 players may be suspended. I’m having issues shifting through the muck and pulling facts from fictions.

    My main interest is trying ti ascertain what this may mean for Batherson and the Sens.. for now I will be on the wait and see fence yet it does peek my curiosity.

    • So far, the NHL still hasn’t released the findings of their investigation. Until then, your guess is as good as mine. I’ve jokingly speculated that they might not release it until Friday evening heading into the Labor Day weekend.

    • The scandal may not be the only issue with the Sens as Forsberg has proclaimed he is healthy and ready to play and was in fact ready at the end of last season, and more trouble on the iR is just how long can Norris remain on that list as he can’t be injured forever. The cap crunch with Forsberg on the roster is $1.9M now.

  4. Peters is a turd by not making a much better effort apologizing to Aliu. You get it done 1st & not through the media. Pathetically disgusting imo