NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2021

The Penguins and Capitals clinch playoff berths, Ryan Miller to retire at season’s end, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals both clinched playoff berths as the Penguins edged the Capitals 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jake Guentzel. Kasperi Kapanen scored twice for the Penguins while Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected three assists. Both clubs are tied with 69 points but the Capitals hold first place in the MassMutual East Division with a game in hand. Capitals defenseman John Carlson was a late scratch and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

A 25-save shutout by Semyon Varlamov gave the New York Islanders a 4-0 win over the New York Rangers. It was the Isles’ fourth win in their last 10 games, leaving them four points behind the Capitals and Penguins. Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the league fined Islanders center Mathew Barzal $2,000.00 for embellishment during an April 22 game against the Capitals.

Third-period goals by Charlie Coyle, Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand lifted the Boston Bruins to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. With 64 points, the fourth-place Bruins sit one point back of the Islanders while opening a six-point lead over the Rangers.

Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Jakub Vrana replied for the Red Wings. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 73 points.

An overtime goal by Sam Bennett gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Florida rookie goalie Spencer Knight picked up his third win in as many games. The Panthers sit two points behind the Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 30th win of the season by shutting out the Dallas Stars 3-0. Ondrej Palat, Blake Coleman and Brayden Points were the goal scorers. The Lightning (70 points) sit one point behind the second-place Panthers. The Stars (54 points) remain two behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as his club nipped the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Kevin Fiala had a three-point game for the Wild as they rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force the extra period. The Blues (52 points) have won four straight games to open a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the Honda West Division. The Wild are in third place with 66 points. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Auston Matthews tallied his 36th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist for the Leafs, who sit atop the Scotia North Division with 69 points. The Canucks have dropped four of their last five games. Earlier in the day, the Leafs placed defenseman Zach Bogosian (shoulder) on long-term injury reserve.

The Calgary Flames kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Elias Lindholm scored twice for the Flames (47 points), who’ve won four of their last five contests and sit four points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers are in second place with 60 points.

A two-goal performance by Yegor Sherangovich powered the New Jersey Devils over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced goaltender Carter Hart will miss the rest of the season with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller has announced his retirement at the end of this season. He’s spent 18 seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and the Ducks. Miller spent nearly 11 seasons with the Sabres, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10. He leads all American-born NHL goalies with 390 wins and sits second with 44 shutouts and 794 games played. He’s 14th on the all-time wins list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller was in his prime during his years with the Sabres, backstopping them to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007. He was also named MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics as Team USA won the silver medal in Men’s Hockey. Best wishes to Miller and his family in their future endeavors.

TSN: The NHL is expected to reach a decision between June 1-5 as to where the winner of the Scotia North Division will play its home games. Discussions between the league and the Canadian federal government are ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ongoing closure of the Canada-US border to non-essential travel and traffic could mean whoever comes out of the North Division will have to play all their remaining playoff games in the United States. That means the league will have to find a suitable venue to host the Canadian team.

THE AHL: announced the Calder Cup won’t be awarded this season. Instead, the Pacific Division will hold a tournament to decide its division champion. The first-place teams in the other four divisions will be named division champions.

CALGARY SUN: Original Flames co-owner Byron J. Seaman passed away last weekend at age 97. He was among the ownership group that moved the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980 and held a stake in the franchise for the next three decades.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Seaman’s family, friends and the Flames organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 5, 2021

Start times for the upcoming season released, former Oilers coach John Muckler passes away and updates on Alex Ovechkin, Brad Marchand, Gabriel Landeskog, Joe Pavelski, Sergei Bobrovsky and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines,

NHL.COM: The league officially announced start times for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The schedule opens on Jan. 13 with five games on the slate. The Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the Philadelphia Flyers at 5: 30 pm ET, the Montreal Canadiens tangle with the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 pm ET, the Chicago Blackhawks meet the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning at 8 pm ET, the Vancouver Canucks square off with the Edmonton Oilers at 10 pm ET, followed by the St. Louis Blues meeting the Colorado Avalanche at 10:30 pm ET.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers coach John Muckler passed away Monday at age 86. Muckler was assistant and associate coach during the Oilers’ first four Stanley Cup runs and was head coach during their fifth and final championship in 1990.

Before joining the Oilers, Muckler did stints in various positions with the Minnesota North Stars, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers. After leaving the Oilers in 1991, he served as head of hockey operations and head coach with the Buffalo Sabres, went on to become head coach of the Rangers, followed by becoming general manager of the Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muckler had a long, distinguished career in the NHL. My condolences to his family, friends, former associates and players, and the Oilers organization.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Contract talks between the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin have yet to begin but the superstar winger isn’t concerned. He pointed out there’s no rush and plenty of time to get a deal done. The Capitals captain is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. “Whatever is done is done. If it’s not done, we’re gonna talk and we’ll see,” said Ovechkin, who is acting as his own agent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin wants to stay in Washington and the Capitals want to keep him. Unless his salary demands become exorbitant, I expect they’ll reach an agreement that keeps both sides happy.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Brad Marchand is hoping to be ready in time for the club’s season-opener on Jan. 14. He underwent sports hernia surgery on Sept. 14 and the recovery period was expected to be four months.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting one of their two sidelined top-line forwards back for the start of the season (or soon afterward) will provide a big boost to the Bruins’ offense. David Pastrnak is also on the shelf (hip surgery) and isn’t expected to return until sometime in February.

NHL.COM: Gabriel Landeskog is among several members of the Colorado Avalanche to miss the first day of on-ice activities. Winger Brandon Saad, defenseman Erik Johnson and goaltender Philipp Grubauer joined the Avs captain on the sidelines. All were listed as “unfit to play” with no timetable as to when they’re return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under league guidelines, teams are not allowed to comment if players are sidelined during training camp due to COVID-19 testing or contract tracing. However, the league will announce if players test positive during the regular season.

This could be a testing issue in which they received false positives and have to be re-tested again. This was commonplace among several NHL teams during the 2020 playoffs. We’ll learn more about their status as the week progresses.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars center Joe Pavelski is listed as day-to-day pending further results from medicals. Meanwhile, immigration issues has delayed goaltender Anton Khudobin’s efforts to report to training camp. He’s fulfilling his mandatory seven-day quarantine and it’s expected he’ll be on the ice at some point during training camp.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Sergei Bobrovsky and Patric Hornqvist were among several Florida Panthers declared “unfit to play” yesterday.

TSN: Mathew Barzal is at New York Islanders training camp and underwent his team physical. However, the young center remains without a contract and cannot practice with his teammates until he’s signed.

TWINCITIES.COM: Winger Kevin Fiala missed on-ice practice yesterday for precautionary reasons. He returned to the ice after practice to skate with assistant coaches Brett McLean and Darby Hendrickson.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: James Neal and Dominik Kahun are among four Oilers declared unfit to play yesterday.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom is in quarantine for seven days after coming in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

CBS SPORTS: The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Zack Smith on waivers.

SPORTSNET: The Winnipeg Jets placed forward Marko Dano on waivers.

TSN: The province of Quebec is the third province to approve NHL games this season in Canada. Manitoba and Ontario have yet to make a final announcement, though Manitoba is showing support for the league’s plan.

THE AHL: 28 teams will participate in the AHL’s 2020-21 schedule.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2020

Zdeno Chara signs with the Capitals, seven clubs open training camp today, Ryan Callahan retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday signed Zdeno Chara to a one-year, $795K contract. The 43-year-old defenseman spent the last 14 seasons as captain of the Boston Bruins. He helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final three times (2011, 2013, 2019), winning the Cup in 2011. Chara was a five-time Norris Trophy finalist during his tenure with the Bruins, winning the award in 2009.

Former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara signs a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates Chara’s contract also features an additional $730K in performance bonuses. He’s no longer a Norris Trophy contender but the big blueliner is expected to bring accountability to the Capitals roster after two disappointing first-round exits following their 2018 Cup championship. He’ll likely see second- or third-pairing minutes in Washington.

Chara’s departure from the Bruins wasn’t unexpected given their apparent reluctance to bring him back for another season. Nevertheless, his signing with the Capitals was still surprising. While Bruins fans knew Chara was past his prime, management’s unwillingness to bring him back didn’t sit well with some of them. He was one of the greatest defensemen in franchise history. His exit marks the end of an era.

No word yet from the Bruins as to who replaces Chara as team captain, but Patrice Bergeron likely becomes the leading candidate to take over the role.

NHL.COM: Last season’s seven non-playoff clubs – the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks open training camp today. The other 24 teams begin camp on Jan. 3.

TSN.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reiterated that Canada’s seven NHL teams have governmental clearance to hold training camp and open the season in their home arenas.

SPORTSNET: Ryan Callahan announced his retirement as an NHL player yesterday after 13 active seasons with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Renowned for his two-way play, Callahan tallied 186 goals and 386 points in 757 NHL contests. After suffering a back injury in 2019, Callahan was traded to the Ottawa Senators, spending last season on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Callahan and his family in their future endeavors.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially announced the signing of forward Derick Brassard to a one-year contract.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns might not be playing this season. He’s listed as an injured player not participating in training camp. The Athletic cited sources claiming he’s out for the season but general manager Jim Nill said that would be determined by team doctors. Johns has a history of head injuries, missing 22 months to post-traumatic headaches.

NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders haven’t invited Josh Ho-Sang to training camp, sparking another turn in the rocky relationship between the club and the former first-round pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang spent all of last season in the minors. He was the subject of trade rumors but nothing came of them.

NEWSDAY: Speaking of the Islanders, the current ownership has bought the remainder of former owner Charles Wang’s shares from his estate. Wang, who passed away in 2019, held a 15 percent stake in the club.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators have decided to open the season without fans in their arena after getting approval from the city’s health department to allow limited crowds. The club hopes to gradually bring back fans over the course of the season.

THE AHL: yesterday announced a framework to open their season on Feb. 5 has been approved by their board of governors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2020

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk weighs in on next season, a suggestion for a 35-game schedule, how the Golden Knights roster has changed and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is excited about his current roster, believing they’ll be competitive in 2020-21. While acknowledging there’s no guarantee next season will take place, he remains optimistic, noting the league is working hard to make it happen. He also indicated “there’s a lot of stuff that has to be done financially because everybody’s taking a big hit.”

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk (NHL.com).

Melnyk half-jokingly said he’s not a fan of a proposed temporary Canadian division. “It’s only for a hockey reason. This is not our year. We’ll be competitive but this is the year the Canadian teams are all better. Every one of them – including mine. I’m still at the beginning of my rise up. Everybody else was good and they’re getting better.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The financial stuff Melnyk’s alluding to is the reports the league could ask the players to accept prorated salaries for ’20-’21 or deferring more of their salaries to a future date. The players have already agreed under the new CBA to receive 72 percent of their gross pay for the coming season. The PA is reportedly against proration.

Melnyk has a point about the difficulty the Senators would face in an all-Canadian division. They were better than the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings and finished just six points behind the Buffalo Sabres in the Atlantic Division last season. They’ll potentially be the weakest team in a Canadian division. The Sens wouldn’t be facing any of the other six clubs that failed to reach the playoffs last season or a Conference rival, such as the Florida Panthers, that may be weaker in the coming season.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cited NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire recently suggesting 35 games might be the minimum for the NHL to complete the upcoming season. American Hockey League president and CEO Scott Howson agreed with McGuire. “Well, I think a 35-game season is better than no season in any league,” he said, pointing out the difficulties both leagues could endure in the face of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All the speculation thus far suggests 48 games would be the minimum the NHL would accept. Nevertheless, we can’t rule out the possibility of a 35-game season. The course of the pandemic will ultimately be the deciding factor.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The 2020-21 Golden Knights will look a lot different from their debut roster of 2017-18. Only nine players – William Carrier, Marc-Andre Fleury, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, Brayden McNabb, Tomas Nosek, Reilly Smith, Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch – remain from their original lineup.

Seven players – Robin Lehner, Alec Martinez, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Reaves, Nicolas Roy, Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone – were acquired via trade. Two (Alex Pietrangelo and Nick Holden) were signed via unrestricted free agency. Cody Glass was selected in the NHL draft while Zach Whitecloud arrived via college free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several of those players (Lehner, Pacioretty, Reaves, Stone) were in the final year of their contracts and due to become unrestricted free agents when they were acquired via trade and signed to extensions. With Cap Friendly indicating the Golden Knights carry limited cap space for the foreseeable future, they’ll probably look more toward building from within as the prospects they stockpiled develop into NHL-caliber players. They’ll also probably lose another from their “Golden Misfits” expansion draft class next summer with Nosek due to become a UFA.

THE SCORE: The NHL has completed its teasers of all 31 of their “Reverse Retro” third jerseys for 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not a fan of the third jersey gimmick, but I can understand the push behind the current one. The NHL and its players need all the revenue it can get in 2020-21.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Collin Delia is looking forward to challenging for the starting goaltender position with the Blackhawks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 14, 2020

The latest on the league’s 2020-21 plans plus updates on Brandon Saad, Brent Seabrook and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said yesterday the league’s goal remains to start the season on Jan. 1. “But if it has to be postponed for a week or two, it won’t change our plans,” he said.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

Lavoie believes it’s now impossible for the league to stage a full 82-game season. Daly wouldn’t confirm this but acknowledged the possibility of a shortened schedule.

Daly indicated they’re studying all financial models but the priority remains to ensure the health of the players. A baseball-style schedule that would reduce travel and the risks associated with COVID-19, including a Canadian division, would make the most sense.

Most observers believe the season will be at least 48 games. Lavoie feels a 60-game schedule seems logical, which would mean a club like the Montreal Canadiens would play 10 games against each team in the Canadian division.

Lavoie noted team owners want to play in their own arenas rather than in hub cities because they can generate more revenue.

The elephant in the room is whether the players would be paid in proportion to the number of games played in 2020-21. It was agreed under the new CBA they would receive 72 percent of their salaries for ’20-’21 regardless of the number of games played. Daly was reluctant to discuss the possibility of the league requesting the players be paid on a prorated basis, adding the priority is working toward a solution together to open the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An 82-game schedule is a fantasy. Most of the speculation ranges from as low as 48 games to as many as 72, though the sweet spot could be in the 60-68 game span.

Starting up on Jan. 1 could be difficult given the narrow time frame the NHL has to hammer out what next season will look like. Players also have to return to their teams and a training-camp timetable must be sorted out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the start of the season is pushed ahead to mid – or late January.

Reports yesterday indicated the NHL Players Association was against prorating players’ salaries, but there was talk the league could seek another deferral of a portion of their salaries. That would be more palatable for the players as they would still get their money but at a later date. How much of a deferral and for how long remains to be seen.

OTHER HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Brandon Saad said he’s hoping to remain with the Colorado Avalanche beyond his current contract. The 28-year-old winger was acquired last month from the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on how well Saad performs with the Avalanche next season, as well as how much he’ll seek for salary on his next contract and for how long. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $55.1 million invested in 12 players for 2021-22, with Gabriel Landeskog, Cale Makar, Philipp Grubauer and Tyson Jost among their other notable free agents. New deals for Landeskog and Makar alone will each up a considerable chunk of their cap space.

THE ATHLETIC: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook told Pierre LeBrun he intends to play next season and silence the doubters. The 35-year-old blueliner’s performance has declined in part due to multiple injuries, but he’s resumed skating and has no plans to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would also eliminate the possibility of the Blackhawks placing Seabrook and his $6.875 million cap hit for 2020-21 on long-term injury reserve in order to bolster their roster via free agency.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore has created a fund in honor of his late grandmother who succumbed to breast cancer. The fund will pay for preventative cancer care for women without insurance coverage.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators signed forward Micheal Haley to a one-year, two-way contract.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2020

The latest on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Bertuzzi, the Senators sign Alex Galchenyuk, the updated arbitration schedule and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson didn’t want to be traded and is happy to be staying put. He made those comments in an interview with a Swedish hockey website. The 29-year-old defenseman has a no-trade/no-movement clause in his contract but said he didn’t want to stand in the organization’s way if they wanted to move him.

Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson (NHL Images).

Ekman-Larsson provided a list of two clubs (Boston and Vancouver) he’d accept being traded to but indicated he wanted nothing better than to remain in Arizona. He added he really enjoyed living there. He’s currently in Sweden but is expected to return to Arizona in mid-November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes were attempting to shed salary by moving Ekman-Larsson, who has seven years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $8.25 million. His happiness at remaining in Arizona aside, this might not be the last time the club approaches him about a possible trade within the next couple of years. One wonders if he’d agree to expand his list of possible trade options or put his foot down and refuse.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Tyler Bertuzzi isn’t taking it personally that it required arbitration to get a one-year. $3.5 million contract with the Red Wings. He downplayed the possibility of acrimony toward management, saying there was “nothing personal at all.” While admitting it was different than anything he’d gone through in previous contract negotiations, he said he was happy with the result and looking forward to next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi filed for arbitration and is eligible again next year. However, I think he and the Wings will attempt to avoid going through that again, especially if he has another solid performance.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed Alex Galchenyuk to a one-year, $1.05 million contract. The 26-year-old forward is joining his fourth team over the last two seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable short-term move to replace the departed Anthony Duclair. This could also be Galchenyuk’s last chance to salvage an NHL career that’s declined following a career-best 30-goal, 56-point season with the Montreal Canadiens in 2015-16.

NHLPA.COM: Seven hearings remain on the NHL salary-arbitration schedule. Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson and Carolina’s Warren Foegele are slated for hearings on Nov. 4, New York Rangers’ center Ryan Strome on Nov. 5, the Rangers Brendan Lemieux and the New York Islanders’ Ryan Pulock on Nov. 6, Ottawa’s Christian Jaros on Nov. 7 and Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar on Nov. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi was the only one that required a hearing to receive a new contract. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the remainders also require arbitration.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars unveiled a new black and neon green alternate jersey.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers defenseman Andy Sutton is launching his own hockey equipment brand specializing in high-end products at affordable prices.

THEAHL.COM: The American Hockey League announced it has moved its anticipated target date for its 2020-21 season to Feb. 5, 2021 because of the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.

SPORTSNET: The Ontario Hockey League is discussing a 40-game regular-season schedule for 2020-21 beginning on Feb. 4, 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both leagues are among the main development systems for the National Hockey League. Those dates could signal when the NHL could return to action in 2020-21.