NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 20, 2020

The Stars defeat the Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, plus highlights from Commissioner Bettman’s state-of-the-league press conference in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin made 35 save (including 22 in the third period) as the Dallas Stars defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. Jamie Oleksiak scored what proved to be the winning goal in the second period. Joel Hanley, Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickinson also tallied for the Stars, while Yanni Gourde had the lone Lightning goal. Game 2 is Monday at 8 pm ET. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars benefited from five days off between series compared to just two for the Lightning. It was obvious through the first two periods as the Stars controlled much of the play. 

The Bolts dominated the third period but Khudobin was the difference. All of Dallas’ defensemen except for Andrej Sekera picked up a point in this game, with Oleksiak and Hanley scoring two of the Stars’ four goals. 

The fate of the 2021-22 season was the dominant theme in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual state-of-the-league press conference prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. 

While the league targeted Dec. 1 as a possible start date, Bettman indicated he wouldn’t be surprised if that date moved to late December or January. No firm timetable has been established. 

The league is still planning to stage a full 82-games schedule and four-round best-of-seven playoff format. “How and when we do that is something that we don’t all have enough information to make any decisions, and anything would be just sheer speculation,” said Bettman. 

Bettman also said it was conceivable next season begins without fans in the arenas but transitions to some fans in the buildings as the season progresses. However, he added that was speculation at this point. Bettman noted fan attendance accounts for 50 percent of league revenues. He remains confident all 31 teams will weather the financial stress. 

The commissioner said he’d prefer to stay out of staging games next summer if at all possible. “Our fans typically like watching us through the fall, winter, and into the spring, and it’s always been a goal to be done by the end of June,” he said. 

Bettman indicates the league is considering all possibilities for staging next season. He said it’s premature to draw conclusions because so much depends upon government and travel restrictions between Canada and the United States. 

If the 2021 Winter Classic in Minneapolis on Jan. 1 has to be postponed, the league will will make “suitable, appropriate arrangement” to make it up to Minnesota Wild fans. 

This year’s expanded playoff format of 24 teams will not be continued. 

Bettman said the Seattle Kraken’s entry into the league in 2021-22 won’t be delayed. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL intends on a full 82-game schedule and its usual playoff format next season, I don’t see how the league can avoid staging at least part of the playoffs next summer if the season begins sometime in January. Even an early December start would be pushing it. The only way of avoiding that is shortening the season, but the league’s broadcasting contracts could contain penalties for playing fewer games than scheduled. 

Lots of options are likely on the table for how the league returns next season. There could be a lot of regional games to reduce long-distance travel in the United States, or the Canadian teams could play against themselves until such time as restrictions ease at the US-Canadian border. 

It’s very important to league revenue to get fans back in the arenas in the safest way possible. As Bettman suggested, it could be a gradual transition where a limited number of fans are allowed in but are seated to ensure they are socially distanced. 

I believe the league will attempt to restage the Winter Classic in Minneapolis for 2022 if they have to postpone this season’s, provide that location hasn’t already been determined. 

Bettman isn’t going to acknowledge if any of the league’s 31 franchises are struggling during this pandemic. Hopefully, they can all make it through. The longer this pandemic drags on and affects league revenue, the more concern will grow.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2020

Contract talks break off between the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo, the Wild won’t re-sign captain Mikko Koivu, an update on Steven Stamkos, the Penguins re-sign Jared McCann, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported contract talks between the St. Louis Blues and captain Alex Pietrangelo have broken off, with the Blues advising the 30-year-old defenseman to pursue unrestricted free agency.

Pietrangelo told Dreger contract discussions haven’t gone the way both sides were hoping. Unless something changes, it’s in the best interest of both sides for him to test the market.

Dreger colleague Pierre LeBrun wondered if the Blues would be willing to trade Pietrangelo’s rights before the UFA market opens on Oct. 9. “If so, what is the draft pick that gets it done?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford reports sources said a recent Blues offer to Pietrangelo had an annual average value of $7.7 million, though it’s now believed to be $8 million. He’s willing to accept less than market value (believed to be $9 million AAV) but is concerned over the structure of the deal, such as term, no-movement clause, and a signing bonus in the final year of a long-term deal, guaranteeing Pietrangelo a cash payout in the event of a buyout.

While there’s still time for the two sides to work things out, it appears the Blues are willing to let Pietrangelo walk if he gets a better offer via the open market. The door could be open to both sides resuming discussions if he doesn’t find anything to his liking. Nevertheless, if I were a Blues fan, I’d be resigned to Pietrangelo playing with another club next season.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild won’t be re-signing long-time captain Mikko Koivu. The 37-year-old center spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Wild. It’s unclear if he’ll sign with another club. He’s previously indicated he’s not interested in playing for a different NHL team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears retirement beckons for Koivu. The wear and tear of his long career caught up with him over the last two seasons as he slid down the Wild depth chart, skating on the fourth line. I think we expected the Wild would part ways with Koivu, but it’s still a little sad to see the end of an era and the potential end of a long, productive career.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois remains hopeful Steven Stamkos could return at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Lightning captain won’t suit up for Game 1 tonight against the Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos has been sidelined with what’s believed to be a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training in July. He’s resumed skating but there’s still no timetable for his return.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed center Jared McCann to a two-year contract worth an annual average salary of $2.94 million. McCann was the subject of recent trade rumors but this new contract turns down the heat on that speculation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann could still be traded now that he’s carrying an affordable contract for the next two years. Nevertheless, I think Penguins GM Jim Rutherford re-signed him with the intent of keeping him in the lineup for at least next season.

TSN: The Washington Capitals re-signed winger Daniel Sprong to a two-year contract worth an AAV of $725K.

Cap Friendly published a list of upcoming important dates on the NHL calendar. Among the noteworthy timings:

The first contract buyout period begins on Sept. 25.

The deadline for club-elected salary arbitration is Oct. 5.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held Oct. 6 and 7, with free agency beginning at noon ET on Oct. 9.

No-movement and no-trade clauses for 2020-21 also take effect at noon ET on Oct. 9.

The deadline for player-elected arbitration is 5 pm ET on Oct. 10.

The second club-elected arbitration window begins 5:01 pm ET on Oct. 10 to 5 pm ET on Oct. 11.

Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.

Nov. 12 is the last day for teams to exercise their walkway right and the last day for the second buyout period.

TSN: Rick Westhead cited executives from several NHL sponsors telling him talks for 2020-21 deals presuppose teams will at least play in bubbles of some sort. The NHL and NHLPA hope to avoid this but cross-border travel and crowds at indoor arenas are unlikely for many months. Westhead said NHL team sponsorships in many markets hang in the balance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Money will ultimately decide when the NHL returns to action next season and in what form. The league and the PA might not have much choice but to return under some sort of bubble.

There’s been talk of seeing purely divisional play, or having all the Canadian teams play each other while the American-based clubs would face each other based on regions, followed by more bubble hockey for the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. The league could be closely watching how MLB and the NFL have handled travel during their respective schedules.










Laviolette Latest To Find A Ride On NHL Coaching Carousel

Laviolette Latest To Find A Ride On NHL Coaching Carousel










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2020

The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final, the Coyotes have a new general manager, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015. Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime as the Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final to win the series 4-2 and the Prince of Wales Trophy as the Conference champions.

Islanders defenseman Devon Toews opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it with his ninth goal of the playoffs. Hedman is tied with Bobby Orr and Brad Park for the third-most goals in a single postseason by an NHL defenseman.

The Islanders were playing without defenseman Adam Pelech, who suffered a broken wrist in Game 5 that will require surgery. He was replaced by Noah Dobson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Lightning, whose depth of talent proved the difference in this series. The Isles also deserve praise for their impressive playoff run.

The Lightning will face the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final which begins Saturday with Game 1 at 7:30 pm ET. The league has released the full schedule for the Final. Game 7 (if necessary) would be played on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially named Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. Armstrong is the former assistant GM and director of scouting for the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this move by the Coyotes. Armstrong is an experienced and successful NHL executive, which is what the Coyotes need right now.

Armstrong began as an amateur scout with the Blues in 2004, became their director of scouting in 2010. He’s also a former AHL and ECHL coach. During his tenure, the Blues drafted such notables as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Binnington, Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes were behind on their payments to the company that manages the Gila River Arena. The club had layoffs and furloughs of employees in mid-August, citing the pandemic. Several players were also late receiving their bonus payments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes are the most noteworthy team that appears to be having financial difficulties tied to the pandemic. It’ll be interesting to see if reports of similar problems emerge for other NHL clubs in the coming weeks and months.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs hired Manny Malhotra as an assistant coach.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a two-year, $2.15-million contract extension.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals re-signed forward Brian Pinho to a two-year contract, with the second year being a one-way deal. He’ll earn $700K at the NHL level in the first year and $750K in the second.

WGR550.COM: The Rochester Americans hired Adam Mair and Mike Weber as assistant coaches. The Americans are the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

IIHF.COM: The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship will be staged as a single-venue format in Edmonton under similar quarantine bubble conditions as the NHL’s return-to-play tournament.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2020

The Wild trade Eric Staal to the Sabres for Marcus Johansson, Canadiens re-sign Joel Edmundson, and the latest on Brayden Point, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Clifford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild traded center Eric Staal last evening to the Buffalo Sabres for center Marcus Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a straightforward one-for-one swap with no salary retention by either club. Cap Friendly indicates Staal, 35, has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.25 million. He has a 10-team no-trade list but the Sabres reportedly weren’t on it. The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported Staal was stunned by the news.

Johansson, 29, also has a year remaining on his contract worth $4.5 million AAV. He’s a versatile forward (when healthy) who can play center or on the wing. However, he managed just 30 points in 60 games last season as a center with the Sabres. Staal netted 47 in 66 contests.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin made no secret of his intentions to shore up his depth at center. Last week, he acquired center Nick Bjugstad from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, I don’t see the trading away Staal for Johansson as an improvement.

Staal may be older but he was more productive than Johansson, who seems better suited for the wing. Guerin’s recent re-signing of Jonas Brodin has sparked speculation he’s shopping defenseman Matt Dumba for a scoring forward, preferably a center.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are reportedly going to set an internal cap of $70 million for 2020-21. Shedding Johansson for Staal shaves $1.25 million off their payroll. He’ll play a second-line role behind Jack Eichel and perhaps help out in a leadership role.

Speaking of the Wild, StarTribune.com’s Sarah McLellan reported Guerin said it’s unlikely pending free agent center Alex Galchenyuk returns. He also declined to comment on the future of captain Mikko Koivu, who’s also a pending UFA.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Montreal Canadiens re-signed Joel Edmundson to a four-year, $14-million contract extension. The Habs acquired the 27-year-old defenseman last week from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The annual average value is $3.5 million, making Edmundson an affordable, physical addition to the Canadiens’ defense corps. The deal also comes with a 10-team no-trade list for all four seasons.

Adding Edmundson provides experienced depth on the left side of the Habs’ blue line. It’s also sparked suggestions Brett Kulak or Victor Mete could be packaged in a deal for a scoring forward. The Habs now have over $10.2 million in cap space invested in 19 players for 2020-21.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point’s status for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final remains uncertain. Point missed the previous game with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice yesterday. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn’t know if Point will be available but remains hopeful he’ll be in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning lost both games Point missed due to injury.

NEW YORK POST: The return of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk provided a big lift for the New York Islanders in their Game 5 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday. Boychuk returned to action for the first time since being sidelined in the opening game of the qualifying round against the Florida Panthers.

TORONTO SUN: Agent Todd Reynolds said client Kyle Clifford will be testing the unrestricted free agent market. The 29-year-old left wing was acquired by the Maple Leafs in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings last February. If Clifford doesn’t re-sign with Toronto, the Kings will receive a third-round pick from the Leafs.

THE SCORE: The St. Louis Blues announced former Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery will be joining them as an assistant coach on a two-year deal. He’ll replace Marc Savard, who stepped down earlier this month.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks are expected to make interim head coach Bob Boughner their full-time bench boss.

TSN: A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against North America’s most powerful hockey leagues (including the NHL, AHL, and the Canadian junior leagues) alleging conspiracy to limit opportunities for young players. The suit was filed by Kobe Mohr, who played in the WHL from 2015 to 2020.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Former Pittsburgh Penguins president Jack Kelley died Tuesday at age 93. Kelley was the Penguins president from 1993 to 1998. He was also inducted in the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993 and the WHA Hall of Fame in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelley’s family and friends.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 16, 2020

The Islanders stave off elimination, the Capitals hire Peter Laviolette as their new head coach, the Wild re-sign Jonas Brodin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders live to play another day after edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in double overtime during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Jordan Eberle tallied the game-winner, forcing a sixth game on Thursday. The Lightning hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves for the win. Ryan Pulock opened the scoring in the first period but Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman tied it with his eighth goal of the postseason. Lightning center Brayden Point missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled the play for most of this game but the Isles hung in there for the win. They blew a couple of opportunities to score the go-ahead goal during regulation, including Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s lame attempt to pass on a two-on-one that was broken up by Zach Bogosian and a long opportunity on a delayed penalty where they failed to find the back of the net with six attackers. Nevertheless, they prevailed and have another chance to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive on Thursday.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday named Peter Laviolette as their new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals general manager Brian McLellan sought an experienced no-nonsense bench boss and he’s got one in Laviolette. He has 18 seasons of NHL experience with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and guided the Flyers and Predators to the Stanley Cup Final.

There was a sense the Capitals were lackadaisical this season, especially during the playoffs. They won’t get away with that under Laviolette.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday re-signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodin was mentioned as a possible trade candidate this season. This signing indicates GM Bill Guerin sees him as a key part of the Wild’s roster. Brodin also has a full no-movement clause in the first four years of his new contract, which extends the one he has for 2020-21.

This signing sparked speculation over Matt Dumba’s future with the Wild. You can read more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.

RDS.CA: The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly close to re-signing recently-acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson. The deal could be between three-to-five years, with a cap hit of $3.5 million or $4 million, depending on the duration.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of Edmundson has generated rumors suggesting the Canadiens could move a left-side defenseman for a scoring forward. Check out the details in today’s Rumor Mill.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed goaltender Adin Hill to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes insider Craig Morgan speculates Hill will become the leading candidate as the club’s backup next season if they trade Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.

Speaking of the Coyotes, the leading candidate for their vacant general manager position is St. Louis Blues assistant GM Bill Armstrong.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said interim head coach Rick Bowness has earned the right to return as head coach. Nill and Bowness have an agreement to discuss the matter following the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the job is Bowness’ if he wants it.

TSN: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with assistant coach Mike Kitchen for allegedly kicking a player on the bench during a game this season.

CALGARY SUN: Noted NHL author Kirstie McLellan Day is taking Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald to court after he withdrew his approval of a biography at the last minute. She’s seeking a court order to have the book published.