NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2023

by | Sep 19, 2023 | News, NHL | 22 comments

The fallout from Mike Babcock’s resignation as Blue Jackets coach, the Blues will name their new captain today, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets ownership released a statement yesterday confirming that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and president of hockey operations John Davidson will remain in their jobs for the coming season.

This comes in the wake of Mike Babcock stepping down as head coach following an investigation by the NHL Players’ Association over allegations he violated the privacy of Blue Jackets players.

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen (NHL.com)

Ownership indicated it was “deeply frustrated and disappointed” over the events of the past week. Nevertheless, it does not anticipate making further changes to its hockey leadership “at this time.”

Davidson and Kekalainen met with the media yesterday with both men admitting their hiring of Babcock was a “major misstep.” Davidson said that they “got it wrong, and that’s on us.” He vowed they would learn from this going forward, adding that they understood the criticism they were receiving. “It is deserved,” he said.

Kekalainen said he met with the Blue Jackets players on Monday to apologize for any inconvenience or awkward situation that the hiring of Babcock may have placed on them. He insisted that the club did its thorough due diligence before hiring Babcock. Kekalainen felt that he deserved another chance to coach. “Obviously, that was a mistake, and that responsibility is mine.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers are wondering why Kekalainen isn’t losing his job over the Babcock situation. While ownership is standing by their general manager, I think this incident puts his future with the club in jeopardy. He could lose his job by the end of this season if the Jackets fail to make a significant improvement on the ice.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues will announce a new team captain this afternoon, filling the role left vacant after Ryan O’Reilly was traded to Toronto in February. Brayden Schenn is considered the favorite to land the job as he’s been an alternate captain for the past three seasons. Robert Thomas could also be a contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford also named Schenn and Thomas as possible candidates. Others that he mentioned included Justin Faulk, Colton Parayko and Pavel Buchnevich. The Hockey News’ Lou Korac reports Thomas is believed to have emerged as the front-runner.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Pastrnak is prepared to take on more of a leadership role following the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand are considered the favorites to be named the next Bruins captain but Pastrnak will still play a large role among the club’s leaders.

TORONTO SUN: Ryan Reaves believes he’ll bring the grit to the Maple Leafs lineup that’s been missing in recent years. He indicated that he won’t stand for rival players gloating at his teammates the way Radko Gudas did to Leafs goalie Joseph Woll in last spring’s playoffs. “I hope he tries that,” said Reaves. “That would be interesting, that would be fun. I doubt there would be any of that here.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs received some criticism for signing the 36-year-old Reaves to a three-year contract this summer. We’ll soon find out if that was a worthwhile investment by the cap-strapped club.

BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: Promising forward Matthew Savoie suffered an upper-body injury during the Sabres prospect game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll be reevaluated and could miss the opening days of training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2022 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Savoie is expected to challenge for a full-time roster spot. This injury could hamper those efforts.

DAILY FACEOFF: The San Jose Sharks signed Justin Bailey to a professional tryout offer. Bailey last played in the NHL in 2021-22 with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Dallas Stars signed goalie Christopher Gibson to a PTO. He last played in the NHL in 2020-21 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins named John McLean as a new assistant coach. McLean spent last season as their skills and skating consultant.

TWINCITIES.COM: Former NHL forward Henry Boucha passed away on Monday at age 72.

Boucha won a Minnesota state championship in 1969 and a silver medal with Team USA in the 1972 Winter Olympics.

Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1971, Boucha spent six seasons in the NHL with the Wings, Minnesota North Stars, Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies from 1971-72 to 1976-77 until his career was prematurely ended by an eye injury. In 247 NHL games, Boucha tallied 53 goals and 102 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Boucha’s family, friends and former teammates.


  1. If you ask me, the reason JD and Jarmo still have jobs is because ownership decided that there was enough upheaval so close to the beginning of training camp. Keep an eye on the situation beginning with the All Star break, when we’ll have a solid idea how much the Jackets have improved.

    • I agree, Paul. In their statement, Blue Jackets ownership indicated that they felt additional staff disruptions could be detrimental to the club for the coming season. That’s why I think Kekalainen’s future with the Jackets depends on their on-ice performance this season.

      • I don’t know, Lyle. A lot of what was said yesterday is exactly what I would expect to be said in the situation. Honestly, considering how the Babcock hiring blew up (predictably, in my opinion), Davidson and Jarmo simply can’t keep their jobs. As soon as the public moves on, ownership will probably let them go. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Priest is making lists of potential replacements already.

  2. Reaves will be bought out next summer. He is only a bully, no more than that.
    Seems that I remember a photo posted by him when he was with Vegas of a player hurt laying on the ice and Reaves skating away laughing. Isn’t that the worst kind of “gloating”?

    • I wonder if that was Graves when he was on the Avalanche? I agree, Reaves was actually putting his weight on Graves neck from what I remember and actually trying to hurt him. I don’t think he is worth being on your team. Yeah he can probably beat up anyone in the league but too it’s a constant parade to the box.

  3. RIP Henry Boucha. I remember him wearing a headband on the ice as a tribute to his Native American culture.

    For several years he held the post WW2 record for fastest goal to start an NHL game. Six seconds on a Sunday afternoon game in 1973 at the old Forum. I remember watching that game. Broadcast nationally in Canada and the USA.

    • I was 8 years old in 1972, and my dad took me to a Wings’ game at the old Olympia. I bought a red headband at the souvenir stand and wore that thing for about 4 years until the elastic gave out. RIP Henry Boucha. You were cool.

  4. Ryan Reaves is a waste of money for the cap strapped TML.

    The guy will have 7-8 min TOI and none of it with big boys who “need” protection.

    A 4th liner who’ll play against other 4th liners.

    Tom Wilson, love him or hate him has 18 minutes TOI riding shotgun .AND contributes on offence.

    Evander Kane also gives 18 min TOI and rides shotgun.

    • Couldn’t agree more HF30. He certainly won’t be skating alongside Matthews and Marner so what’s the point? Hard to intimidate the other team when your on the bench for most of the game. 3 years and $4 million too much $$ and term for a 36 year enforcer.

      • For the Leafs it’s Colton Orr all over again.

  5. Re Babcock ousting …,👏👏👏

    His hiring was a WTF moment

    More firings of Davidson and Jarmo….. agree with above…. Certainly not now…. Way too much disruption

    Right the ship; big standings points improvement from last year…. Then jobs MAY be safe for 24/25

    Otherwise…I believe they may be gonzo

    • Babcock is very divisive. Even before he was officially hired, comments here and on other forums was 50-50 for and against. IMO that should have been a huge signal to the Jackets’ front office that a different choice would be a good idea.

  6. Just maybe ownership is keeping Jarmo and Davidson because ownership had a little to do with Babcock getting hired.

    • Biloxi Wing – I agree. Unlikely Babcock gets hired without some input from ownership. Also could get very expensive to fire both Jarmo and Davidson so keeping them probably financially motivated as well.

    • I don’t see how whether or not ownership being involved in Babcock’s hiring has any bearing on Jarmo and Davidson being responsible for hiring him and deserving to be fired.

      • I don’t know Paul – what if it was ownership who really wanted Babcock? Kind of hard to fire Jarmo and Davidson if the owners were leading the charge don’t you think?

  7. The Babcock signing & resignation is just another blunder from Columbus. 6 playoff appearances in 22 years? Yikes !

  8. The worst thing about the Babcock situation is how public the divided locker room situation is now…

    • That’s why the guy we should all pull for is Babcock’s replacement. Hope he does well.

  9. Pascal Vincent finally gets his head coaching job. He is a great guy and one hell of a coach. He should have been picked for the job 2 years ago instead of Larsen. The Jackets are lucky he is still here

  10. Re; Ryan Reaves is just a Big over payed Thug ❗️
    He is out to Hurt and or take a player out of a game with a major injurie….

    I hope the NHL keeps an eye on this Goon this season

    • Ottawa signed their own in Zack MacEwen … should be interesting – toe-to-toe – offsetting majors – get on with the game …. who cares?