NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel celebrates his game-winning goal against the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Penguins win Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final plus updates on Olympic participation, salary cap info & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel late third-period goal snapped a 3-3 tie and proved the game winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Nashville Predators 5-3 to take a 1-0 series lead in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

Nick Bonino scored twice and Sidney Crosby collected two assists for the Penguins, who failed to register a shot on goal in the second period. They were largely outplayed by the Predators, who rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game in the third.

The Predators had a game-opening goal by P.K. Subban overturned by a controversial offside challenge in the first period, followed by playing shorthanded by two players when Jame Neal took an undisciplined cross-checking penalty during a delayed interference call on teammate Calle Jarnkrok.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The final score flattered the Penguins, who were largely outplayed for most of this game by the Predators. They’ll need a better effort in Game 2 or this series will head to Nashville tied at a game apiece.

SPORTNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gave his annual state of the NHL press conference prior to the start of Game 1 of the Cup Final. Among the notable points was his adamant insistence the league will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He also raised the possibility of a league-wide policy banning players under NHL contracts from taking part in those Games.

Bettman also believes video reviews on offsides and goaltender interference are working as intended. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the salary cap for 2017-18 could be between $73 – $77 million, depending on if the NHLPA uses its five percent inflator clause. The league also announced Tampa Bay will host the 2018 NHL All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There remains speculation suggesting quiet discussions exist regarding Olympic participation between the league, the NHLPA and the IIHF. However,  I believe Bettman’s serious when he says the league won’t take part in the Pyeongchang Games. I also believe a showdown is coming between the league and several players, such as Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who still wish to represent their countries in those games.

As for the salary cap, the PA has annually used its inflator clause to ensure the highest possible cap ceiling to help free agents get the best possible deals. Grumbling persists among the players regarding escrow payments so it’ll be interesting to see if they approve the use of that clause again this year. 

TSN: Erik Karlsson wasn’t the only member of the Ottawa Senators playing through injury during their recent playoff run. Cody Ceci (broken finger), Craig Anderson (back), Zack Smith (ribs), Viktor Stalberg (abdominal), Alex Burrows and Mark Borowiecki (high ankle sprains), Dion Phaneuf and Ryan Dzingel (wrist), Derick Brassard (shoulder) and Mark Stone (leg) were also hampered or sidelined. 

Senators GM Pierre Dorion revealed his intention to protect Anderson in the upcoming expansion draft. 

SPORTSNET: Former NHL player John Scott said his critical comments toward P.K. Subban in a recent documentary about the flamboyant defenseman were made over two years ago, before he met Subban at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. Scott claims he’s now friends with the blueliner and said his remarks weren’t in context with anything Subban is doing now. “He’s such a cool guy,” said Scott. “I like the guy and consider him a friend. To have that come out now is a shame.”

Russian sportswriter Slava Malamud reports SKA St. Petersburg claims Ilya Kovalchuk has changed his mind about playing in the NHL next season because he wants to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Malamud also wonders if the New Jersey Devils couldn’t find any takers for Kovalchuk. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk’s NHL rights are held by the Devils and there’s speculation they were considering a sign-and-trade scenario. Hopefully we’ll learn more about his status in the coming days. 

THE BOSTON GLOBE: After receiving three years probation and a $10,000 fine for attempting to sell oxycodone, former NHL star Kevin Stevens is trying to put his life back together. He’s battled drug and alcohol addiction for years, losing his millions and his marriage along the way. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Stevens can overcome his addictions and get his life back on track.