NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s games, Brent Seabrook retires, Sabres GM speaks about his club’s poor performance and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand scored twice and set up another to lead the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 5-1. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist to give him 700 for his career. Capitals winger Tom Wilson could face supplemental discipline after he drilled Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in the head during the first period. Wilson was unpenalized on the play while Carlo left the game and was taken to hospital for his injury.

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits stretching back to 2015. His previous antics earned him four fines and three suspensions totaling 23 games.

A shootout goal by Philipp Kurashev lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex DeBrincat scored twice, Patrick Kane collected two helpers and Malcolm Subban made 39 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have proven to be a handful for the Lightning in this series compared to their previous one earlier in the season. It’s indicative of how much the Hawks have improved since the opening weeks of the schedule.

David Perron’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Mike Hoffman’s overtime winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Perron scored twice while Ryan O’Reilly assisted on every Blues goal. The Kings have dropped four straight.

The Colorado Avalanche got an overtime goal by Valeri Nichushkin to nip the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Avs center Nathan MacKinnon remained sidelined by an apparent head injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against San Jose. He received clearance to play but was a late scratch to avoid further injury. Head coach Jared Bednar believes MacKinnon could miss a couple of more games.

A three-goal first period powered the Minnesota Wild to a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jordan Greenway and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist while Kirill Kaprizov and Marcus Foligno both collected two assists.

Max Pacioretty scored in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist. Vegas goalie Oscar Dansk made 24 saves to pick up his first win since 2017.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced his playing career is over due to injuries. The 35-year-old blueliner’s last game was Dec. 15, 2019, after which he underwent surgery on both of his hips and right shoulder. He then suffered a back injury during the opening day of training camp in January. Seabrook finishes his career with three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015), an Olympic Gold Medal (2010) and 464 points in 1,114 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Blackhawks and played a crucial role in their rise from league laughingstock to three-time Stanley Cup champion. He hasn’t officially retired, however, as he has three years and $15 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. He’ll remain on long-term injury reserve, which will provide the Blackhawks with a measure of salary-cap relief.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams expressed his unhappiness yesterday over his club’s poor performance. He called where the team was at this time “unacceptable”, criticized what he called a lack of competitiveness by the players, emphasized he has “full authority on hockey decisions,” indicated “everything is being evaluated” when asked about head coach Ralph Krueger’s status and claimed team captain Jack Eichel has not requested a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ statement seemed to be the club’s attempt to mollify Sabres fans upset with the club’s lack of progress. Talk is one thing, action is another. The fans are more interested in what, if anything, the current management intends to do to end this team’s decade of mediocrity.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite said the club expected starting goalie Carey Price would struggle in January and February as he adjusted to sharing his workload this season with backup Jake Allen. Price was expected to improve as the season wore on and saw more starts.

Waite also said the long-time Habs netminder isn’t at 100 percent physically but he can still play. “He’s not hurt but he has some stiffness. He has to learn to play with the pain and that’s why we need a very good backup and that’s what we have in Montreal right now.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will further stoke debate among Canadiens fans over whether Price will ever regain his once-dominant form on a consistent basis.

THE SCORE: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s not looking to make a coaching change. Bench boss Travis Green is in the final season of his contract but Benning believes Green and his staff “have done a good job with our group”. As for trades, the Canucks GM said his struggling team has to figure this out from within as new players would have to quarantine for two weeks and regain their conditioning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, no Jake Virtanen to the Anaheim Ducks for Danton Heinen as rumored a week ago?

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are breathing a sigh of relief as they learned goaltender Igor Shesterkin suffered a mild groin strain during Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils. He had to be helped off the ice at the end of the third period when he was unable to put weight on his right leg. He’s listed as day-to-day.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Former 1980 Team USA forward Mark Pavelich, 63, was found dead in a Minnesota treatment facility. Pavelich helped Team USA upset the powerful Soviet Union squad on route to winning Olympic gold in 1980. He went on to spend six seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, tallying 329 points in 355 games.

Pavelich was arrested in 2019 and charged with a violent assault on his neighbor but was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Family and friends believe his condition was linked to head trauma suffered during his playing career. He was receiving treatment for his condition and was believed to be making progress at the time of his death.

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










Sabres Desperately Need Experienced Management and Coaching

Sabres Desperately Need Experienced Management and Coaching

 










NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 18, 2020

The latest on Kyle Palmieri, a busy off-season faces Sabres new GM Kevyn Adams and a brief note on Chris Tanev in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PALMIERI HOPES TO REMAIN A DEVIL

New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri (Photo via NHL Images).

NORTHJERSEY.COM/NJ.COM: Nick Gantaifis and Randy Miller report Kyle Palmieri hopes to remain part of the New Jersey Devils’ rebuilding plans. The 29-year-old winger is a year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

Without a doubt,” Palmieri said Tuesday in a media conference call. “I do love being in New Jersey. I love being close to home. And I have a ton of belief in this organization moving forward as to what we’re building, and I hope to be a part of it.”

Gantaifis notes Palmieri and the Devils might ordinarily open contract extension talks on July 1. Given the uncharacteristic and premature start to the off-season, that target date remains uncertain.

It’s a big unknown,” Palmieri said. “Obviously, the calendar and important dates haven’t really been set yet. There’s so much up in the air and so much to figure out as far as the return to play and figuring all that stuff out.”

Miller suggests Chris Kreider would be a good comparable for Palmieri. The New York Rangers winger signed a seven-year, $45.5 million extension in February. Both are the same age and have roughly similar stats. Kreider’s averaged 23 goals and 46 points over the past five seasons, while Palmieri’s averaged 26 goals and 50 points since 2015-16.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider is a fair comparison for Palmieri. With over $36 million invested in eight players for 2021-22, the Devils can easily afford to pay Palmieri over $7 million annually.

Of course, that figure will rise this year because of their anticipated re-signings of key free agents such as Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt. It could go significantly higher if they bring in talent via trades or free agency in the off-season A flat salary-cap for 2021-22 could also affect the Devils cap room.

Palmieri’s contract talks also remain in limbo because ownership hasn’t decided if interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald will stay in that role on a full-time basis. A new GM could have a different opinion of Palmieri’s value. If so, we could hear his name mentioned a lot as the 2021 trade deadline rolls around.

NEW SABRES GM FACES A BUSY OFF-SEASON

THE SCORE: John Matisz examined a lengthy to-do list for Kevyn Adams, who was named earlier this week as the new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.

Re-signing winger Sam Reinhart and goaltender Linus Ullmark to fair deals, being cautious with pending UFAs like Wayne Simmonds and Michael Frolik, and sorting out the future of defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are among the key issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reinhart and Ullmark are restricted free agents with arbitration rights. As one of the Sabres’ leading scorers, Reinhart will likely seek a multi-year deal worth around $6 million annually. Ullmark has less of an established body of NHL work on his resume, giving Adams more leverage in negotiations.

Matisz pointed out Adams has no previous ties to Simmonds and Frolik. He could opt to cut them loose and pursue better UFA options.

Sabres coach Ralph Krueger recently expressed his wish to coach Ristolainen again next season. We’ll find out soon enough how much sway he has with his new boss.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 17, 2020

The Buffalo Sabres shake up their management and scouting departments, the Canadian government is open to a hub city, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SABRES SHAKE UP THEIR FRONT OFFICE

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday fired general manager Jason Botterill and replaced him with Senior VP of Business Administration Kevyn Adams. The move came three weeks after Botterill received a vote of confidence from team owners Terry and Kim Pegula.

Kevyn Adams is the new general manager of the Buffalo Sabres (Photo via NHL.com)

The club relieved assistant GMs Randy Sexton and Steve Greeley of their duties and fired the entire coaching staff of AHL affiliate Rochester Americans.

SPORTSNET: The Sabres also fired director of amateur scouting Ryan Jankowski and reportedly 12 of their 21 scouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This front-office bloodletting is seen as cost-cutting by a club that will be sitting idle until perhaps January. Kim Pegula claimed the change of heart with Botterill was due to the 2020 NHL Draft being pushed to this fall, giving Adams time to familiarize himself with his new role. Putting Adams, who has no management experience, into that role is also being seen as the Pegulas injecting themselves directly into management decisions affecting the on-ice product.

Botterill leaves with more misses than hits during his tenure. He got very little back from trading Ryan O’Reilly to St. Louis and Evander Kane to San Jose. While he didn’t give up much to acquire Jeff Skinner from Carolina, he was criticized for re-signing the winger to an eight-year extension worth $9 million annually. On the plus side, he drafted Rasmus Dahlin and acquired blueliner Brandon Montour.

Yesterday’s moves left many observers pondering the fate of head coach Ralph Krueger. So far, it appears his job is safe, but the same was said of Botterill three weeks ago.

Considering the Sabres’ lousy record since the Pegulas took over in 2011 – a nine-year playoff drought, three management changes, and six different head coaches – their fans can be forgiven any skepticism over yesterday’s moves.

The patience of team captain and franchise players Jack Eichel will be tested if the Sabres fail to improve. Yesterday could become the beginning of the end of Eichel’s tenure in Buffalo.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said his government is comfortable with the NHL having a host city for its playoff tournament in Canada, provided the league follows local health protocols. Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among the 10 teams in the running.

“Obviously the decision has to be made by the NHL and the cities and the provinces in the jurisdiction, but Canada is open to it as long as it is okayed by the local health authorities”, said Trudeau.”

Bob McKenzie reports there was some talk of Toronto as a front-runner but all three Canadian cities are very much in the mix. He feels Trudeau’s announcement opens the door for one of them to become a hub for the playoff tournament.

Pierre LeBrun believes we’ll get more clarity on the two hub cities next week. Las Vegas remains a lock. If the three Canadian cities don’t work out there are some people who favor Chicago.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports Toronto Maple Leafs player rep Zach Hyman said he doesn’t have much clarity yet about how restrictive the NHL’s return-to-play protocol will be. He believes there could be some leniencies in place allowing players some access to their families during the tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the NHLPA are in ongoing negotiations regarding those return-to-play restrictions. It’s expected more will be revealed when the league moves to Phase 3 as training camps open on July 10.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes center Brad Richardson said he was in contact with the team staff member who tested positive for COVID-19. Richardson said he subsequently tested negative for the virus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will difficult for teams to protect their players from the coronavirus as they prepare for training camp, especially in areas like Arizona where reported cases are on the rise. The Phase 3 training-camp period will determine if Phase 4 – the playoff tournament – goes off. 

NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t ruling out resting some of his regulars during the round-robin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You’re probably thinking, “They’ve had months to rest and recover from any nagging injuries so why rest them in a three-game round-robin before the playoffs?” I doubt Cassidy’s going to do that for all of his stars. They’re going to need those games to get into game shape. This could be done on a game-by-game basis depending on the player’s needs.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has resumed skating with several teammates at Pepsi Center in Denver.

IN OTHER NEWS…

BLOOMBERG NEWS: The Nassau Coliseum will be shuttered indefinitely as its owner seeks new investors to take over operations and the remaining debt on the building. The New York Islanders were supposed to return to the Coliseum next season to play all of their home games there before moving into their new Belmont Park arena for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The New York Post’s Larry Brooks wonders if Rangers owner James Dolan might swoop in and keep the Coliseum open next season to enable the Islanders to play there. If that doesn’t happen, the Isles might have to play one more season at Barclays Center before moving to their new arena.

TSN: The reopening of Seattle’s KeyArena has been pushed back by two months. However, it’s not expected to affect the city’s NHL expansion team from starting their inaugural season in 2021-22.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2020

Sabres fire GM Jason Botterill, league commissioner Gary Bettman talks about the return-to-play plan, plus the latest on Patrick Kane, David Pastrnak, Braden Holtby, Josh Anderson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

**UPDATE** 

The Buffalo Sabres have relieved Jason Botterill of his duties as general manager. They’ve named Senior VP of Business Administration Kevyn Adams as Botterill’s replacement. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news broke earlier this morning. I hope to have more about this in tomorrow’s update. It was only three weeks ago that Botterill received the backing of Sabres ownership for another season. It’ll be interesting to find out what brought about this sudden change of heart, as well as what it could mean for the coaching and scouting staffs.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman believes the league’s return-to-play plan will maintain the integrity of the playoffs without being too gimmicky.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

“I think everybody can feel good, based on the combination of the play-in round and the way we’re going to run the playoffs, that this will be a full competition which will bring out the best in our teams and our players,” said Bettman.

The NHL intends to return later this summer with a 24-team tournament involving a round-robin for the top eight teams and a qualifying round for the other 16.

Bettman indicated the league has worked closely with the NHL Players’ Association since games were paused in mid-March. The two sides continue to negotiate key details, including playing under a quarantine bubble and the location of the two host cities for the tournament.

The commissioner also said the league intends to test every player and member of each team’s 50-person traveling party daily for COVID-19. A player testing positive will be isolated and contact tracing will monitor everyone in close proximity of that player. Bettman said the league has been told an isolated case or two won’t affect their plans to go forward.

Bettman also said the league is in discussions with the Canadian government regarding easing restrictions for the country’s 14-day quarantine period for visitors.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports Bettman admitted 56 percent of the league’s players remain outside of their respective NHL cities, with 17 percent of them still in Europe. So we’ve got a lot of people to move around and we have to get people back from outside of North America.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The round-robin and qualifying rounds are a bit gimmicky, but necessary given this unusual situation. Once the playoffs begin, it’s the usual four-round, best-of-seven tournament.

The discussions with the Canadian government will affect the location of one of the two host cities. It’s believed the league wants one in Canada, but that won’t be possible if the government maintains its strict border protocols. That will also affect training camps for the six Canadian teams (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal) participating in the tournament. There’s already talk that some of them could hold training camps in the United States.

Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan involves training camps opening on July 10. The league has a limited time to get their players back to their respective NHL cities.

SPORTSNET: Hockey analyst and former NHLer Kevin Bieksa said several players he’s spoken to remain skeptical of the return-to-play plan. He said they don’t have their equipment and still have skated.

Bieksa added there remains several issues to be sorted out. Not only with the safety measures and protocol and everything but I don’t even know if it’s been discussed with the (NHLPA) and the league how they’re going to divide HRR (hockey-related revenue).”

Some critics have dismissed the proposed tournament as the NHL putting the players at risk solely for the sake of profit. What the league is doing is attempting to recoup roughly half of its $1.1 billion in lost revenue from pausing the schedule. This depends, however, on the willing participation of the players.

With the salary cap tied to hockey-related revenue, the majority of players (based on the 29-2 vote by NHLPA player reps approving the return-to-play plan) are agreeable to this tournament. They aren’t being forced into this. If a majority aren’t confident their health and safety can be assured, they have the power to shut this down at any time.

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: cites a report in Sports Business Journal claiming the NHL is halting all negotiations for its next television contract until the end of 2020.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane doesn’t believe whoever wins the 2020 Stanley Cup should have an asterisk beside their name.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are no asterisks beside the NHL teams that won the Stanley Cup during the Second World War when some of the league’s best players were serving overseas. There’s no asterisk beside the 1994-95 New Jersey Devils or 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks for winning the Cup during lockout-shortened seasons. There shouldn’t be, and won’t be, an asterisk beside the potential 2020 Cup champion.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak is more upset about missing the 100-point plateau than the 50-goal mark. With 48 goals and 95 points in 70 games, Pastrnak was on pace for his first 50-goal, 100-point campaign when the schedule was paused.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said the starting goaltender role is Braden Holtby’s to lose in the playoff tournament. “Braden Holtby’s body of work in playoff games speaks for itself and how he definitely helped our team to win our first-ever Stanley Cup and was a huge, huge part of that,” Reirden said.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson will remain sidelined by shoulder surgery until after September.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed Ryan Reaves to a two-year, $3.5 million contract extension. The 33-year-old winger is completing a two-year, $5.5-million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers suggest Reaves’ accepting less money to re-sign with the Golden Knights could be a harbinger of what many of this year’s unrestricted free agents could face when the season is over. However, he likely would’ve had to accept a similar deal from the Golden Knights even without the possibility of a flat salary cap for next season. Before re-signing Reaves, the Golden Knights had over $73 million invested in 15 players for 2020-21.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars defenseman Roman Polak signed a three-year contract with Czech club HC Vitkovice. He’s still under contract with the Stars for this season but told a Czech paper he might not return if the NHL stages its playoff tournament. Stars general manager Jim Nill said the team can’t make a player return against their wishes. If anyone wants to stay home, that is their decision. His contract expires at the end of this season, so no issues there.”

SPORTSNET: The American Hockey League has formed a return-to-play task force to prepare for its 2020-21 season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 24, 2019

Updates on Brayden Point, Carey Price, David Krejci, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point will join his teammates this week but last spring’s hip surgery could keep him out of the lineup until late October. Point signed a three-year contract yesterday.

Brayden Point sidelined by off-season hip surgery until late October (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That might explain why Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois wasn’t panicking over getting Point under contract before the start of the season.

NHL.COM: Elias Pettersson has a four-point night (one goal, three assists) and Brock Boeser collected three assists as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-4 in preseason play at Abbotsford, B.C.

TSN.CA: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price sat out last night’s preseason contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs nursing a bruised left hand. He’s expected to return to the ice before the end of the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No sense risking further injury in a meaningless preseason contest.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center David Krejci suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of last night’s preseason game against the Philadelphia Flyers. “I don’t think it’s serious,” Bruce Cassidy said after the game. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils winger Kyle Palmieri is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

REVIEW-JOURNAL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt is working to reform the NHL’s PED testing as part of the current NHL CBA negotiations. Last fall, he received a 20-game suspension after testing positive for a trace amount of a performance-enhancing drug.

Schmidt cited environmental contamination and an expert testifying on his behalf at his appeal hearing claimed the amount found in his system was “the equivalent of a pinch of salt in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.” The Golden Knights supported Schmidt, saying in a statement they believed the presence of a banned substance in the defenseman was accidental and unintentional.

NBC SPORTS: Work has begun on a new arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park. The venue is expected to be ready for the 2021-22 season.

WGR500.COM: The Buffalo Sabres name Kevyn Adams as their VP of business admininstration. Adams spent 10 seasons as an NHL players from 1997 to 2008 and has had ties with the Sabres since 2009.