NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2019

Updates on Zach Werenski and Kyle Connor, the Lightning trade Adam Erne to the Red Wings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Zach Werenski’s agent, Pat Brisson, expects his client will re-sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets before training camp opens in September.

“I have been in communication with the Jackets throughout the summer,” said Brisson. “It’s our intention to have an agreement in time for camp. I’m most certain we will be continuing our talks in the near future.”

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Kyle Connor is hopeful of signing a long-term contract. The restricted free agent also hopes to avoid missing training camp next month.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor hopes to have a new contract before training camp opens in September (Photo via NHL Images)

“That’s definitely the plan,” he said. “A player never wants to miss time in training camp. It’s tough coming in, not getting that preparation and time with the teammates in practice. But things happen, so we’ll see. I’ll be prepared if it happens.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: None of the unsigned RFAs want to miss the start of training camp. I’m sure all of them, especially Mitch Marner, saw how Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander struggled after missing almost half of last season to a contract standoff with management.

With about a month until training camps open in September, there’s plenty of time for these players to sign new deals. I anticipate we’ll see a flurry of signings in early/mid-September.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE DETROIT NEWS: The Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday traded left wing Adam Erne to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a four-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A rare mid-August NHL trade. With $9.3 million in salary-cap space and most of that headed to restricted free agent center Brayden Point, there wasn’t enough for the Lightning to retain Erne. He’ll probably be replaced with an affordable call-up or UFA signing.

The rebuilding Wings land a young (24) winger with some NHL experience and the potential to contribute more with increased playing time. He’ll get that opportunity in Detroit.

VANCOUVER SUN: A Canucks spokesperson said the club has no current plans for the upcoming season to retire the number of Roberto Luongo but the club is “sure his name will be included in future discussions.” They also acknowledged Luongo’s 20-year NHL career, including the eight seasons he spent with the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Canucks will retire Luongo’s number at some point. The future Hall-of-Famer was a big reason why the Canucks rose to dominance in the Western Conference from 2008-09 to 2012-13, including their march to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011.

Luongo is the Canucks all-time leader in career wins (252), shutouts (38) and second all-time in goals-against average (2.36), games played (448) and save percentage (.919). He’s also the single-season leader in games played (76), wins (47), and shutouts (nine).

SPORTING NEWS: Former NHL goaltender Eddie Lack yesterday announced he won’t be signing with an NHL club this season, focusing instead on recovering from a hip injury suffered in the minors last season. He revealed he played through hip pain throughout the past six seasons. As he rehabs, Lack will be the goaltending coach at Arizona State University.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck to Lack in his recovery. If he’s unable to continue his playing career, perhaps he’ll have a future in coaching.

THE SCORE: Seattle general manager Ron Francis said the expansion NHL franchise will reveal its new name in early 2020.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2019

The latest on Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Robin Lehner, Brendan Lemieux, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks icons Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were photographed Monday with retired defenseman Christian Ehrhoff at the Sharks practice facility. The unrestricted free agents are working out in hopes of returning for another NHL season.

Marleau recently moved his family back to the Bay area while the Sharks are giving Thornton all the time he needs to decide on returning. With over $4.7 million in salary-cap space, the Sharks have sufficient room to sign both players.

Joe Thornton is expected to return for another season with the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s assumed Thornton will be back for another season with the Sharks. Marleau would love to return but it’s not a certainty. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons recently claimed the Sharks don’t want him back.

SPORTING NEWS: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner unveiled his new mask advocating for mental health with the hashtag #SameHere. Lehner has been outspoken about his struggles with bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse in the past.

FOREVER BLUESHIRTS: Former NHL player turned agent Claude Lemieux provided an update on contract talks between his son, Brendan, and the New York Rangers. “I have had a few conversations with the Rangers management team but I can’t say that we are close to signing a new contract.”

Brendan is a restricted free agent who received a qualifying offer from the Blueshirts weeks ago.

THE DENVER POST: Hall-of-Famer Michel Goulet believes former NHL star Pierre Turgeon belongs in the Hall. Turgeon sits 32nd on the all-time points list (1,327), the most of any eligible player not inducted in the Hall. “Pierre was the best player on his team for 12 to 14 straight years,” Goulet said. “That’s elite.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Turgeon spent much of his career overshadowed by many great players. He’ll likely get inducted one day but could face a long wait. If more Hall of Famers like Goulet speaks up on Turgeon’s behalf it could hasten the process.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron is now involved in NASCAR and baseball in his hometown of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes hired Jason Muzzatti as their new goaltending coach.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 13, 2019

The Panthers will retire Roberto Luongo’s number, the Hurricanes re-sign Don Waddell, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Roberto Luongo will become the first player in Florida Panthers history to have his number retired. The ceremony will be held on March 7, 2020, before a game against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Florida Panthers will retire Roberto Luongo’s number during a ceremony in March 2020 (Photo via NHL Images).

Luongo retired in June after 20 NHL seasons. He “ranks second in NHL history in games played by a goaltender (1,044), third in wins (489) and ninth in shutouts (77). He is one of only three goaltenders in NHL history to have played in 1,000 games.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A worthy honor for future Hall-of-Famer Luongo, who spent over half of his career with the Panthers. He’s their franchise leader for goalies in games played (572), wins (230), and shutouts (38).

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes yesterday signed general manager and team president Don Waddell to a three-year contract extension. Waddell recently raised eyebrows by interviewing with the Minnesota Wild for their vacant GM role.

Waddell also said unrestricted free agent winger Justin Williams remains undecided over his plans.

THE ATHLETIC: With Waddell out of the running for the Wild GM job, the front-runners appear to be “former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall, current Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM Bill Guerin and current New Jersey assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald.”

The Wild are also reportedly interested in speaking with Columbus Blue Jackets associate GM Bill Zito and New York Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury. So far, they haven’t been granted permission to speak with either man.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Juuso Valimaki could be sidelined six-to-nine months after suffering “suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee while off-season training in Nokia.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Valimaki was expected to become a third-pairing regular on the Flames blueline this season. His absence is already raising speculation over how the Flames will address this situation. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci and his common-law partner Jamie Thompson are being sued by a dinner-party guest who suffered second- and third-degree burns on May 2018. Thompson “tried to refill a burner on an outdoor tabletop fireplace and accidentally ignited Engel with flaming liquid fuel.”

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes will be donating $20,000 to the Arizona Bobcats youth hockey team after a trailer containing their equipment was stolen on Sunday.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2019

John Tavares weighs in on Mitch Marner’s contract situation. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN.CA: John Tavares is optimistic teammate Mitch Marner’s contract negotiations with the Toronto Maple Leafs can be settled before training camp opens next month.

John Tavares believes teammate Mitch Marner and the Toronto Maple Leafs will work out a new contract soon (Photo via NHL Images).

“There’s lots of restricted free agents unsigned still, a lot of guys in a similar position as him,” said Tavares. “There’s still some time here, I think we all believe the right thing will happen and something will get worked out. I think that’s what both sides obviously want, sometimes it takes a little bit longer than others.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems Leafs management and the Marner camp are taking a break as there’s nothing new to report regarding their contract talks.

Some observers believe the agents of this summer’s other notable restricted free agents are awaiting the outcome of his negotiations. If so, we could see a flurry of contract signings leading up to the start of training camp in a month.

THE ATHLETIC: The Arizona Coyotes “are leaving Arizona Sports 98.7 FM for Fox Sports 910 AM, which is owned by iHeartMedia.” The official announcement could come on Tuesday.

TBNEWSWATCH.COM: Former NHL player Jared Staal is returning to professional hockey as an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. The youngest of the four Staal brothers, Jared retired as a player in 2016-17 and spent last season “as an assistant at Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Edmonton campus.”

In the NHL, Often the Name – And the Game – Are the Same


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2019

The latest on Johnny Gaudreau, Robin Lehner, Kevin Labanc, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau believes his club’s recent acquisition of Milan Lucic brings a much-needed physical element to the lineup that can “push us over the edge here.”

Johnny Gaudreau believes the acquisition of Milan Lucic will improve the Calgary Flames (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By over the edge, Gaudreau is suggesting toward Stanley Cup contention. If we were talking about Lucic from four or five years ago, I’d agree with that assessment.

Unfortunately, Lucic’s performance declined over the last two seasons, so much so that most analysts panned the Flames for acquiring him. Maybe Lucic can regain some of his once-dominant form in Calgary but most observers doubt it. 

NEW YORK POST: Former New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner received his replica Masterton Trophy, which indicated he played for the New York Rangers last season. Lehner, 28, signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unfortunate engraving mistake that I’m sure the league will be happy to correct. At least Lehner was able to get a bit of a laugh out of it…


NHL.COM: Kevin Labanc admitted putting his team first when he signed a one-year contract with the San Jose Sharks well below market value. By playing an enhanced role this season, he expects to play well enough to earn a more lucrative contract next summer. He’ll become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at the end of this season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc’s contract raise eyebrows and even some accusations of collusion.Some even criticized the winger, suggesting he risked hurting his value if he should become sidelined or his play unexpectedly declines.

Labanc is taking the long view here. If he has a career-best performance in 2019-20, he’ll be in line for a significant raise on a long-term deal with the hammer of arbitration backing him up. 

THE SCORE: NHL broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick will be enshrined into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. “Emrick has called NHL games for nearly 40 years, including 14 Stanley Cup Finals as lead announcer for NBC, Versus, FOX, and ESPN.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations, Doc! Well deserved.