Claude Giroux leads Metropolitan Division to victory in the 2022 All-Star Game. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux was named the most valuable player of the 2022 NHL All-Star Game as he led the Metropolitan Division to two victories in the 3-on-3 tournament format. Giroux finished with three goals and an assist, including two goals in the clinching 5-3 victory over the Central Division, taking home a 2022 Honda Passport.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux was named MVP of the 2022 NHL All-Star Game (NHL.com)
Giroux became the third Flyer in All-Star Game history to win MVP honors, joining Reggie Leach (1980) and Wayne Simmonds (2017).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Giroux, whose performance in the All-Star Game has put more focus on his uncertain future in Philadelphia. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer, making him the subject of increasing trade speculation. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.
St. Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou led all scorers in the tournament with two goals and three assists for five points across two games, followed by Giroux, New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (three goals and one assist) and Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski with two goals and two assists.
RDS.CA: Speaking of the Flyers, Daniel Briere will reportedly be named as assistant general manager to GM Chuck Fletcher. The former Flyers winger is the current vice-president of hockey operations for the ECHL’s Maine Mariners.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere hasn’t been officially announced as assistant GM yet but that could come in the next day or so. He was also a candidate for the Montreal Canadiens general manager position, which eventually went to former player agent Kent Hughes.
TSN.CA: The Chicago Blackhawks have interviewed Scott Mellanby for their general manager position. A former NHL forward, Mellanby was assistant GM with the Montreal Canadiens from 2014 until his resignation last November.
Results of the All-Star skills competition plus Commissioner Gary Bettman talks about Flames and Coyotes arenas, Canadian teams, the 2022 Draft and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.com: Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the hardest shot competition at 103.2 mph while St. Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou was the fastest skater with a time of 13.550 at the 2022 NHL All-Star skills competition in Las Vegas on Friday night.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images).
Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho won the accuracy shooting in 10.937 seconds while Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell and Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy combined for nine consecutive saves in the Save Streak event.
Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski was the Las Vegas 21 in ’22 winner, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski won the Fountain Faceoff Challenge and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo won the Breakaway Challenge.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Pietrangelo, Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras should’ve won the breakaway challenge for his blindfolded Dodgeball trick shot routine. Honorable mention to Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov for mimicking his idol, Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin.
A stick tap as well for former USA Women’s star Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson for finishing third in the Fountain Faceoff, which saw the participants attempting to hit targets while standing on an island in the Bellagio Fountain. At one point, she led by hitting all of her targets in 16.253 seconds.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman endorsed the Arizona Coyotes plan to temporarily play at a 5,000-seat venue at Arizona State University, provided the club secures commitment to building a new arena at Tempe. Bettman made the remarks during a press conference along with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly prior to the skills competition yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes would spend at least the next three seasons at the ASU facility while awaiting the building of their new venue. This season is the last for the Coyotes at the Gila River Arena after the city of Glendale announced it was terminating the club’s lease.
Bettman also approved of the Calgary Flames decision to skate away from a new arena deal with the city of Calgary but stressed the club remains committed to the city despite the collapse of the agreement. He believes the team’s ownership worked hard to get a deal done but felt the city pushed too hard to include additional costs that the team would have to pick up. Bettman believes the sooner both sides figure out how to get a new arena the better given the long-term cost of maintenance at the aging Saddledome.
The commissioner also raised the possibility of the 2022 NHL Draft moving from Montreal to another location if the city and the province of Quebec remain under strict COVID regulations. The draft is scheduled for July 7-8, 2022 at the Bell Centre.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman also indicated the slow reopening of Canadian NHL arenas has affected the revenue of the Canadian teams, prompting some of them to look into playing games at other locations where COVID restrictions on attendance aren’t as strict. So far, the league isn’t going that route but that could change depending on how long the current Canadian restrictions remain in place.
Bettman announced the Florida Panthers will host the 2023 NHL All-Star Game, the 2023 Winter Classic will be hosted by the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park while the 2023 NHL Stadium Series will feature the Carolina Hurricanes at Carter-Finley Stadium.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Bettman excused Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz for his “emotional moment” during a Wednesday townhall when he lashed out at two reporters who asked what measures the club had implemented to protect its players in the aftermath of an investigation into the sexual assault allegations by former player Kyle Beach against Brad Aldrich, the club’s former video coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wirtz’s “emotional moment” was a PR disaster that has his critics questioning whether he should remain in his role.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Speaking of the Blackhawks, they continued conducting interviews for the vacant position of general manager with Kyle Davidson and Eric Tulsky. Davidson is currently their interim GM while Tulsky is assistant GM with the Carolina Hurricanes.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman announced Shawn Horcoff has taken over as assistant GM. He replaces Pat Verbeek, who was hired as the new general manager of the Anaheim Ducks.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’s David Schoen reports Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer said Jack Eichel will be cleared for contact drills following the All-Star break.
The All-Star Skills participants are announced, more bad headlines for the Blackhawks, the Ducks name Pat Verbeek as their new general manager, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I underwent surgery on Thursday to repair tendon damage in my right wrist. I will attempt to provide daily updates to the site as usual during my 10-14 day convalescence but my usual comments on notable headlines and trade/free agent rumors could be shorter and fewer. Some of you will probably be thankful for that (insert wink emoji here.). Anyway, please bear with me if uploads are a little later than usual over the next week or two.
Now, on to today’s headlines…
NHL.COM: The participants in the 2022 NHL All-Star skill competitions were announced yesterday.
The 2022 NHL All-Star Skills competition takes place on Friday, Feb.4, 2022 (NHL.com).
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin are among those taking part in the Fastest Skater competition. Hardest shot participants include Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier.
The Breakaway challenge features Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat and Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau will take part in the Accuracy Shooting. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, Carolina Hurricanes netminder Frederik Andersen and Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros are among the participants in the Save Streak competition.
Two new events include the Fountain Faceoff at the famed Fountains of Bellagio where participants attempt to shoot pucks into five targets in the shortest period of time and the Las Vegas NHL 21 in ’22. That event is a twist on blackjack in which players will shoot at a rack of oversized playing cards hoping to reach 21 without going bust in the least amount of shots.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux and Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone will take part in the Fountain Faceoff. Participants in the NHL 21 in ’22 event include Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz and CEO Danny Wirtz released statements yesterday regarding the chairman berating two reporters during a Wednesday town hall. Rocky became upset with a question directed to Danny over what steps the franchise has taken to prevent a situation like 2010 from happening amid the Kyle Beach allegations.
Rocky apologized for his outburst and praised Danny and his staff for the work they have done to improve the culture and the team. Danny, meanwhile, elaborated on the steps his club has taken in implementing policies, programs and training regarding mental health, culture and investigating incidents of non-compliance.
SPORTSNET: Three more people are considering lawsuits against the Blackhawks related to the Brad Aldrich scandal. Aldrich was the former Blackhawks video coach who Beach alleged sexually assaulted him in 2010.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to take time to undo the damage Rocky Wirtz’s tantrum did to the Blackhawks’ efforts to move on in a positive way from the fallout of the investigation into Beach’s allegations. Critics are already questioning his fitness to lead the club.
TSN (via THE SCORE): Speaking of the Blackhawks, they will be interviewing Peter Chiarelli for the vacant post of general manager. Chiarelli won a Stanley Cup as GM of the Boston Bruins in 2011 but his subsequent tenure with the Edmonton Oilers was nowhere near as successful as the club struggled to reach the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli will be just one of several candidates the Blackhawks will interview.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks officially introduced Pat Verbeek as their new general manager.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what plans Verbeek has in store for the Ducks before the trade deadline and in the offseason. The rebuilding club has exceeded expectations and is in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference.
CBS SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes forward Johan Larsson underwent sports hernia surgery and will be sidelined for eight weeks.
TSN (via THE SCORE): Pierre LeBrun reports there’s a strong possibility the 2024 World Cup of Hockey takes place in February of that month rather than September. It would be the first to be staged in the middle of a season.
Recaps of Wednesday’s action, Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz berates reporters during town hall event, Alex Ovechkin sidelined from the upcoming All-Star Game, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers blew an early 3-0 lead but recovered on two goals by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a 5-3 victory over the Washington Capitals. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane also scored for the Oilers (49 points), who remain three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images)
Speaking of the Flames, they maintained their lead over the Oilers by doubling up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Chris Tanev scored and collected three assists while Blake Coleman tallied twice. Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.
Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault netted two goals in a 5-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Kings are tied with the Anaheim Ducks with 55 points but sit in second place in the Pacific Division with a game in hand. Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi scored his 22nd goal of the season.
The Minnesota Wild got a 30-save shutout from goaltender Cam Talbot to blank the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0. Kevin Fiala extended his points streak to 12 games with a goal and an assist. The Wild sit in third place in the Central Division with 59 points.
Seattle Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer turned in a 19-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders. Mason Appleton and Jared McCann each had a goal and an assist.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz lost his temper during a town hall meeting yesterday when The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus asked him about the club’s work to protect their players in the aftermath of Kyle Beach’s sexual assault allegations.
“We’re not going to talk about Kyle Beach. We’re not going to talk about anything that happened. We’re moving on, “ said an obviously angered Wirtz. “What we’re doing today is our business. I don’t think it’s any of your business. You don’t work for the company. If somebody in the company asks that question, we’ll answer it.”
Asked the same question by another reporter, Wirtz angrily told them to “get off that subject.”
Wirtz later issued an apology to the reporters and the fans, saying his remarks “crossed the line.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see Wirtz’s outbursts in this link. The Blackhawks’ chairman has been roundly condemned for his petulant remarks. Wirtz acted as though the investigation into Beach’s allegations was an annoyance to be forgotten instead of a very serious issue that still resonates among fans and media. He undid everything his club had done since the investigation concluded to assure the public that what happened to Beach will never happen to another player again.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports former NHL star Pat Verbeek is set to become the next general manager of the Anaheim Ducks. Verbeek spent 21 seasons as a player and has worked with Steve Yzerman as an assistant GM with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks could make the official announcement as early as today. Verbeek has had considerable experience working with one of the league’s best general managers. The Ducks interim GM, Martin Madden, was considered among the front-runners for the role. It’ll be interesting to see if he remains as their assistant GM.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will miss the upcoming NHL All-Star Game after being placed in COVID protocol yesterday. He will be replaced by teammate Tom Wilson while Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux will take over from Ovechkin as captain of the Metropolitan Division. Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault was also added to the All-Star Game roster.
The Columbus Blue Jackets report forward Eric Robinson will be sidelined for six weeks by a knee injury.
CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers have sent forward Noel Acciari to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on a conditioning stint. He has yet to play this season due to an undisclosed injury.
Mason Marchment has a 6-point night in a big Panthers win, more changes to NHL COVID protocols, the 3 stars of the week revealed, the wild re-sign Jordan Greenway and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Florida Panthers winger Mason Marchment scored two goals and set up four others in a six-point performance as his club doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 8-4. Teammates Anton Lundell collected five assists while Sam Reinhart tallied a hat trick and chipped in an assist. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets while Elvis Merzlikins was pulled after giving up seven goals on 25 shots. The Panthers regained first place in the overall standings with 69 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets received bad news yesterday as defenseman Jake Bean is expected to be sidelined for four weeks with a groin injury. Bean already tallied career highs with four goals and 15 points this season.
Auston Matthews netted a hat trick during the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 comeback win over the New Jersey Devils. The Leafs overcame a 4-2 deficit with four unanswered third-period goals. Mitch Marner extended his goal streak to six games with a goal and two assists while Leafs goalie Jack Campbell was pulled after giving up three goals on nine shots. They remain in third place in the Atlantic Division with 59 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin missed this game with a concussion and is expected to remain sidelined for the remainder of this week. Devils coach Lindy Ruff missed this game and will miss the rematch tonight due to the recent passing of his father. My condolences to Ruff and his family.
An overtime goal by Tim Stutzle lifted the Ottawa Senators over the Edmonton Oilers 3-2. Goaltender Matt Murray picked up the win with a 37-save performance while Brady Tkachuk and Thomas Chabot each had two points. The Oilers (47 points) sit one point behind the Calgary Flames in the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves for his first win since Dec. 30 in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Brock Boeser tallied his 12th goal of the season as the Canucks (46 points) sit two points back of the Flames.
The Detroit Red Wings nipped the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Jordan Oesterle scored in overtime while Dylan Larkin netted his 23rd of the season. Rickard Rakell replied for the Ducks, who sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 55 points.
NHL.COM: The league and the NHL Players Association yesterday announced an update on their COVID-19 protocols. Among the notable changes is the removal of “enhanced measures” as they revert back to start-of-season protocols, removal of daily testing for fully-vaccinated individuals, removal of the requirement to test close contacts, and updated recommendations for the type of masks and steps to reduce community exposure.
Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen, and Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 30.
DAILY FACEOFF: The skills competition for the upcoming 2022 NHL All-Star weekend in Las Vegas will feature events on the Las Vegas Strip and in the Belaggio Fountains.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Jordan Greenway to a three-year, $9 million contract extension. The 24-year-old winger was slated to become a restricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a nice little pay bump for Greenway from the $2.1 million annual average value of his current deal. This also fits comfortably within the Wild’s salary-cap payroll for 2022-23. Cap Friendly indicates the Wild have $69.4 million invested in 13 players next season with Kevin Fiala, Alex Goligoski, and Kaapo Kahkonen among their notable free agents.
GOPHNX.COM: Arizona Coyotes center Johan Larsson could be facing surgery for a nagging groin injury.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Former Blackhawks Marian Hossa, Ed Olcyzk and Patrick Sharp will be part of the advisory committee that will select the club’s next general manager.
TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs head coach Mike Nykoluk passed away at age 87. He spent 17 seasons as a player in the AHL but briefly played for the Leafs in 1956-57. He was their head coach from 1980 to 1984. As an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers, he was part of their Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975. He was also an assistant coach with the New York Rangers before joining the Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Nykoluk’s family, friends and to the Leafs, Flyers and Rangers organizations.
The Avalanche maintain their win streaks, Carey Price talks about his future, All-Star Game updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche extended two winning streaks with a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. They’ve won 10 straight and are undefeated at home in their last 20 (19-0-1). Mikko Rantanen and Valeri Nichushkin each had a goal and an assist as the Avs regained first place in the overall standings with 67 points. The Avalanche tied an NHL record for the most victories (15) in one month.
Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).
Speaking of unbeaten streaks, the Minnesota Wild extended theirs to nine games (8-0-1) by holding off the New York Islanders 4-3. Kirill Kaprizov, Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy each had a goal and an assist as the Wild (57 points) moved into third place in the Central Division. Wild winger Kevin Fiala collected an assist to extend his points streak to 11 games.
Andrei Svechnikov broked a 1-1 tie to lift the Carolina Hurricanes over the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Goaltender Frederik Andersen made 27 saves as the Hurricanes have won four straight and sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 64 points.
A third-period goal by K’Andre Miller lifted the New York Rangers to a 3-2 win over the Seattle Kraken. Igor Shesterkin kicked out 40 shots while teammate Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists to keep the Rangers (62 points) within two points of the Hurricanes.
Los Angeles Kings winger Trevor Moore tallied twice to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Kings captain Anze Kopitar collected two assists while Bryan Rust scored two goals for the Penguins. With 53 points, the Kings move within one point of the second-place Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division while the Penguins (61 points) remain one point behind the second-place Rangers in the Metro Division.
Tyler Seguin scored twice and picked up an assist while Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist as the Dallas Stars rolled to a convincing 6-1 win over the Boston Bruins. Dallas forward Roope Hintz reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. The Stars moved into a tie with the Calgary Flames with 48 points but the Flames hold the final wild-card spot with two games in hand.
The Columbus Blue Jackets rode a four-goal first period to a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets while Nick Suzuki had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price spoke to the media yesterday for the first time since the Stanley Cup Final in July. He still hopes to return to action this season after suffering setbacks in his recovery from off-season knee surgery. Price also insisted he wants to remain with the Canadiens and has no plans to move anywhere.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price also entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program for a month back in October. He has been the subject of trade speculation as some pundits mused about whether he’ll want to stick with a struggling team that appears headed for a rebuild after this season. Even if he was willing to waive his no-movement clause, his injury and his $10.5 million cap hit through 2025-26 would ensure he remains in Montreal for the rest of this season and probably beyond.
NHL.COM: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov were added to the rosters for next weekend’s NHL All-Star game. They are replacing New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon as both are sidelined by injuries.
CBS SPORTS: Carolina Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Zirgensons is out past the All-Star weekend with an undisclosed injury.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights signed defenseman Brayden McNabb to a three-year contract extension with an annual average value of $2.85 million. Forward Michael Amadio was inked to a two-year extension with an annual cap hit of $762,500 while goaltender Logan Thompson inked a three-year deal worth an AAV of $766, 667.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton will take over as head coach of Canada’s Men’s Olympic hockey team after Claude Julien slipped on ice and fractured some ribs during training camp in Switzerland.