NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2021

Zdeno Chara is poised to break a record this season, the Golden Knights sign Nolan Patrick, Tyler Ennis joins the Senators on a tryout basis, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Bob Duff reports Zdeno Chara is poised to knock former Red Wing Chris Chelios from the record books. If Chara plays 44 games this season, he’ll set the NHL record for most games by a defenseman. Chelios holds the current record with 1,651. Over the weekend, Chara signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders.

New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara is expected to be a third-pairing defenseman with the Islanders this season. Barring injury, he should break Chelios’ record.

TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights signed Nolan Patrick to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.2 million. They acquired the 23-year-old center from the Nashville Predators in July during a three-way trade involving the Predators and Philadelphia Flyers, who sent Patrick and defenseman Philippe Myers to Nashville for Ryan Ellis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The former first-round pick (second overall) of the Flyers in 2017, Patrick is hoping to get his NHL career back on track after struggling to play up to expectations in Philadelphia. The Golden Knights hope he’ll blossom into a first- or second-line center.

Patrick’s signing pushes the Golden Knights above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $1.237 million according to Cap Friendly. However, they can garner some short-term relief by placing sidelined Alex Tuch on long-term injury reserve until his return from shoulder surgery in January.

OTTAWA SUN: Unrestricted free agent forward Tyler Ennis signed a professional tryout offer with the Senators.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers prospect defenseman Dmitri Samorukov suffered a broken jaw during Saturday’s prospect game against the Calgary Flames. Surgery is not required but he’ll be sidelined for six weeks.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings prospect blueliner Jared McIsaac was briefly knocked unconscious after taking a hit during a prospects game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. He was taken to a hospital, evaluated, and reportedly doing well. He wasn’t expected to be hospitalized overnight.

CROSSINGBROAD.COM: Flyers writer Anthony SanFilippo cited sources yesterday claiming Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin has suffered another serious knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hopefully we’ll learn more about Morin’s status later today. His NHL career has been hampered by several knee injuries. Another could bring his playing days to an end.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Speaking of the Flyers, winger Wade Allison left Sunday’s rookie game against the New York Rangers with an apparent leg injury. There was no immediate word on his status.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks pulled center Trevor Zegras from a rookie game against the Colorado Avalanche as a precautionary measure after he was slashed on the left leg in the first period. He limped to the bench and had to be helped to the dressing room but was later said to be “fine”.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens hopeful Jesse Ylonen has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 for personal reasons. Under NHL protocols, he could face suspension without pay if border restrictions prevent him from traveling to the United States for road games. He will also face severe restrictions, such as not being able to be in any public place other than arenas and training facilities.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports Jim Hughson is telling people he has retired. Hughson has been Hockey Night in Canada’s lead play-by-play man since 2008-09.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No official word yet from Hughson or HniC regarding his status.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2021

Jack Eichel to travel to Buffalo for Sabres’ pre-training camp medical, Vladimir Tarasenko expected on Blues’ opening-day roster, Zdeno Chara signs with the Islanders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: cites an Associated Press report indicating Jack Eichel is expected to travel to Buffalo for the Sabres’ pre-training camp medicals on Wednesday. The 24-year-old center has been sidelined since March with a herniated disk in his neck.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Treatment of the injury has created an impasse between Eichel and the Sabres’ front office. He prefers artificial disk replacement while management is against that procedure because it’s never been done on an NHL player before.

If Eichel fails his medical, the Sabres have the option of placing him on injured reserve or long-term injury reserve as his condition is hockey-related. They’ve been trying to trade him this summer but haven’t found any takers yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll be surprised if Eichel passes his medical. If he fails as expected it will prevent the awkward situation of having an unhappy player in camp while management is trying to trade him. However, this won’t be the end of the saga. There’s no indication which procedure Eichel will undergo let alone when it will take place.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues general manager Doug Armstrong believes there’s a good chance Vladimir Tarasenko will be on the club’s opening-day roster. The 29-year-old winger requested a trade early in the offseason because he was reportedly unhappy over how the club’s medical staff handled his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Armstrong said he spoke with Tarasenko about his trade status and the winger understands the situation. He mentioned the flattened salary cap and the limited amount of playing time Tarasenko saw over the last two years as a result of his shoulder surgeries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The best opportunity to move Tarasenko was before the free-agent market opened on July 28. There weren’t many teams with the cap space to take on his $7.5 million annual salary cap hit once the dust settled from the usual frenzy of free-agent signings.

A trade could still materialize before the start of the season but a move around the March trade deadline seems more likely. Interested parties would prefer letting Tarasenko burn off most of this season’s cap hit while taking the time to evaluate his performance.

NEW YORK POST: Zdeno Chara’s NHL career has come full circle as he signed a one-year contract with the New York Islanders. Financial terms weren’t disclosed but it’s presumably a plus-35 deal with bonuses.

Chara began his big-league career with the Islanders in 1997-98, spending four seasons with them until traded to the Ottawa Senators in 2001.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 44-year-old Chara will become the first player in NHL history to go 20-plus years between games with one franchise.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed restricted free agent winger Kailer Yamamoto to a one-year, $1.175 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Very affordable signing by the cap-strapped Oilers but Yamamoto will be in line for a more lucrative deal next summer if he has a good performance this season. We’ll take a look at the implications in today’s Sunday rumor roundup.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators signed center Logan Brown to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2021

Patrick Kane says he didn’t know anything about sexual assault allegations against the Blackhawks former video coach, the Canadiens will host the 2022 Draft, James Neal is among the latest PTO signings & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said he has participated in the investigation into allegations the club’s former video coach sexually assaulted two players in 2010. The 32-year-old winger denied having any knowledge about the incidents at the time.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s remarks run counter to those of former teammate Nick Boynton, who claimed everyone knew about the incidents during an interview with the lawyers hired by the Blackhawks to investigate the allegations. “I said talk to Torch (former assistant coach John Torchetti). I called out Brian Campbell, and said talk to Patrick Sharp and talk to Kaner (Patrick Kane),” he told TSN on July 29.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The NHL announced Friday the 2022 Draft will be held in Montreal at the Bell Centre on Thursday, July 7 and Friday, July 8. The 2020 Draft was originally scheduled to be held there but was instead conducted virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. The first round will be on Thursday evening and rounds two through seven the following day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Returning to a live venue should significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for teams to make their selections. The recent virtual drafts saw teams take an inordinate amount of time selecting prospects, with each round taking much longer to complete.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced the signing of wingers James Neal and Michael Frolik to professional tryout contracts.

TORONTO SUN: Nikita Gusev was invited to Maple Leafs training camp on a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The New Jersey Devils inked center Fredrik Gauthier to a PTO.

SPORTSNET: Zack Smith is hanging up his skates after 12 NHL seasons, all but one with the Ottawa Senators from 2008-09 to 2018-19. He spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Smith, 33, tallied 98 goals and 204 points in 662 career regular-season games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Smith and his family in his future endeavors.

PHILLY.COM: Former NHL forward Lou Angotti passed away Thursday at age 83. He spent 10 seasons in the league from 1964-65 to 1973-74 with the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. Angotti was the Flyers’ first-ever captain. He had 103 goals and 289 points in 653 career NHL contests. He also went on to coach the Blues for two seasons (1973-74 to 1974-75) and the Penguins in 1983-84.

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

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

98 percent of NHL players expected to be vaccinated for the coming season, Sidney Crosby hopes Alex Ovechkin breaks Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, plus the latest on Evander Kane, Carey Price, P.K. Subban and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly estimates 98 percent of players will be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the 2021-22 season opens on Oct. 12. That will leave between 10 and 15 players unvaccinated among 700 players on 32 teams.

The NHL and NHL Players Association didn’t impose a vaccine mandate on players, but restrictions (including restrictions at the Canada – US border requiring lengthy quarantine) contributed to the high number of vaccinations. Teams can also suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of its protocols.

Fully vaccinated players will have any positive COVID-19 tests treated as hockey injuries and continue to be paid. Unvaccinated players will have their movements restricted during road trips. Regular COVID testing will remain in place for vaccinated players. Coaches and staff must be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Daly confirmed that teams who suspend players without pay under the terms of the league’s COVID protocols will receive salary-cap relief from that player’s daily salary-cap hit.

Unvaccinated players can be ruled exempt from suspension if they have legitimate medical reasons for avoiding vaccination or if it conflicts with “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Johnston also reported at least one Caucks remains unvaccinated but the team declined to comment citing medical privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL isn’t fooling around with its protocols this season after a number of game postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks over the course of last season led to a series of scheduling changes. It took a physical toll on the players as they endured multiple games within a much more compressed period of time.

Unvaccinated players will have a more difficult time navigating through those strict protocols this season. Those restrictions could encourage the remainder who lack medical exemption to get vaccinated. The risk of suspension without pay for a positive test is too great over the course of the season.

SPORTSNET: Daly indicated the salary cap for the 2022-23 season is expected to increase by $1 million to $82.5 million.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has the support of a long-time rival in his quest to break Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he told Ovechkin he hopes he does it. “It would be awesome. He’s in range, “ said Crosby. “He can score anywhere from insider the blue line.”

Crosby added one caveat. “I just hope that all his goals that he gets are against the other teams as he’s trying to add toward it.” Gretzky has 894 goals while Ovechkin sits at 730 to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s legacy is secure as this generation’s greatest goal scorer and one of the all-time greats. Most of Gretzky’s records are out of reach of today’s players, so the opportunity for the Capitals superstar to break the goal record would be a phenomenal achievement.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Evander Kane remains confident that the league will clear him of allegations by his estranged wife that he gambled on NHL games. In an interview with ESPN’s Linda Cohn, the San Jose Sharks winger called the allegations “incredibly false”, claiming he’s never bet on any NHL games or intentionally altered the way he plays.

The NHL opened an investigation into the allegations in July. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he anticipates it will wrap up soon and to have a full report by the start of training camp.

Kane admitted he has a gambling addiction which led to his filing for bankruptcy in July. He also downplayed reports claiming some of his Sharks teammates don’t want him back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz believes it’s what’s Kane didn’t say during the interview that’s newsworthy. “This was a missed opportunity for him to signal to his teammates/organization that he’s ready to come back, change his ways, and be a solid teammate. Instead, nothing’s changed.”

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took to the ice yesterday in full equipment with a member of the team’s training staff. It’s believed the first time he’s skated since undergoing knee surgery in July. He spent 10 minutes on the ice doing stretching and skating drills.

TORONTO STAR: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is an executive producer on an upcoming docuseries entitled, “Black Life: A Canadian History.”

THE ATHLETIC: Andrew Ladd is looking forward to the opportunity to play in the NHL again. He was traded this summer to the Arizona Coyotes by the New York Islanders. He played just 30 NHL games over the past three seasons with the Islanders.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres will face off in the 2022 Heritage Classic on March 13 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

THE SCORE: Two suspects were arrested in the robbery of a St. Louis Blues prospect and a woman on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. The name of the prospect has not been released.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2021

Carey Price provides an update on his recovery from knee surgery, the Coyotes and Hurricanes add to their respective management teams, the latest PTO signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Carey Price said he has yet to skate since undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on July 22. The 34-year-old Canadiens goaltender said he “feels pretty good” and is continuing his rehab to ensure he’s ready for the coming season.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Price’s original timeline for recovery was 10-12 weeks. It was expected he’d be ready for the start of the season on Oct. 13. “With any type of rehabilitation, you’re never quite sure how long it’s going to take,” he said. The Habs star indicated he could be skating soon but wants to be sure he’s ready.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As always, the Canadiens’ playoff hopes rest with Price. They’ll ensure he takes all the time he needs to be fully recovered and ready to go for this season. Fortunately, they’ve got a capable backup in Jake Allen to carry the load in the early going until Price’s return.

Speaking of the Canadiens, the club yesterday announced it is launching a Respect and Consent Action Plan aimed at raising awareness with its employees and the public of the consequences of sexual cyberviolence. This comes in the wake of the backlash the club faced for selecting prospect Logan Mailloux in the first round of this year’s draft. Mailloux was fined by Swedish authorities in December after admitting to charges related to sharing a photo engaged in a sexual act with him without her consent while playing in Sweden last season.

Genevieve Paquette, the Canadiens’ vice-president of community engagement and the club’s foundation general manager, said Mailloux is learning and receiving therapy from the team in a “very serious and engaged way.” A member of the London Knights, he is currently suspended by the OHL but can apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1. He was not invited to the Canadiens’ rookie camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Sportsnet’s Eric Engels observed, this is a positive step forward for the Canadiens as they continue to do damage control following the selection of the Mailloux. The club is also continuing to work with the 18-year-old defenseman to assist in his development. Paquette and the Habs director of player development Rob Ramage expressed confidence he’s on the right path toward what Ramage called “his journey of education and awareness” stemming from the incident in Sweden.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes named John Ferguson Jr as their assistant general manager and GM of their AHL affiliate in Tucson. He spent the past seven seasons with the Boston Bruins as their Executive Director of Player Personnel and as GM of their AHL affiliate in Providence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ferguson Jr tends to get some flak from critics over his difficult tenure as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2003-04 to 2007-08. By all accounts, however, he did a good job with the Bruins and as a pro scout before that for several years with the San Jose Sharks. He should be a good hire for the rebuilding Coyotes.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes hired Michael Futa as a senior consultant to general manager Don Waddell. Futa was previously in the Los Angeles Kings organization from 2007 to 2020, including a stint as their assistant GM. He played a key role in building that club into a two-time (2012, 2014) Stanley Cup champion.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed winger Colton Sceviour to a professional tryout off.

YARDBARKER: Winger Tobias Rieder got a PTO with the Anaheim Ducks.

CAP FRIENDLY: Left wing Scott Wilson signed a PTO with the Seattle Kraken.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights signed defenseman Dylan Coghlan to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

TSN: The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) rejected a request from an advocacy think tank to suspend Stan Bowman from his role as general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team while he faces allegations of helping to cover up the sexual abuse of two Chicago Blackhawks players over a decade ago.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2021

Connor McDavid calls for consistency from on-ice officials, the Blues bring back Tyler Bozak, the Red Wings re-sign Givani Smith, Jimmy Vesey among three players signing PTOs with the Devils, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is calling for more consistency from the NHL’s on-ice officials. He acknowledged they face a difficult job but wants to see an improvement in the consistency of calls from game to game and throughout the game from period to period.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Oilers general manager Ken Holland agrees with McDavid. “My case to the league is: A foul is a foul,” he said. “If the same guy is able to draw three or four penalties, so be it.” McDavid drew 29 penalties last season but none during the Oilers’ first-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

McDavid and Holland are members of the NHL’s competition committee. In July, the committee reviewed 30 incidents of cross-checking, an infraction considered an area of concern by league general managers before the committee convened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman publicly defended his on-ice officials during last season’s playoffs, calling them “the best officials in any sport” despite criticism by fans and pundits. Given the inconsistency we’ve seen over the years, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of any improvement.

My guess is we’ll see what we always see. Early-season games will be called more closely than those later in the season. The quality of officiating will deteriorate over the course of the playoffs.

There will be questionable fouls that could affect how the rest of a game is called.  Blatant attempts to injure will sometimes result in puzzling supplemental discipline or none at all. A bad call or missed call will be offset by another at some point in the game. Wash, rinse, repeat.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have brought back center Tyler Bozak. The 35-year-old unrestricted free agent was signed to a one-year, $750K contract.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Givani Smith to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a one-way deal worth $750K per season.

TSN: Jimmy Vesey is among three players joining New Jersey Devils training camp on professional tryout offers. Joining him are Mark Jankowski and Tyler Wotherspoon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vesey was a well-touted prospect who signed with the New York Rangers as a college free agent in 2016. However, he bounced from the Rangers to the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks since 2019.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres fans will require proof of vaccination to attend the club’s home games this season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins forward Fred Stanfield passed away at age 77. He played 14 seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Bruins (1967-68 to 1972-73), winning two Stanley Cups. Along with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge, Stanfield was part of the return the Bruins received in a 1967 trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that turned the club into a champion.

In 914 career games with the Bruins, Blackhawks, Minnesota North Stars and Buffalo Sabres, Stanfield tallied 211 goals and 616 points, along with 56 points in 106 playoff contests.

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