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.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 31, 2020

Recaps of the final day of exhibition games, including updates on Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, John Carlson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: First-period goals by Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski, and Gustav Nyquist powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Nyquist finished with two points while teammate Oliver Bjorkstrand collected two assists.

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask gave up three goals on 20 shots before being replaced by Jaroslav Halak. Teammate Brad Marchand left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury following a hit on Werenski. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will provide an update today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins appeared rusty in this contest, but they’ll have plenty of time to sharpen their play during the seeding round-robin before the opening round of the playoffs. The Jackets, meanwhile, showed how much better they can be when they have a mostly healthy roster, something they didn’t have for long stretches in the regular season.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Reilly Smith scored two goals and Marc-Andre Fleury went the distance with a 22-save performance to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Alex Tuch’s highlight-reel goal put the game out of reach. Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz left the game in the second period following a heavy check from Vegas winger Ryan Reaves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaves’ arm made contact with Schmaltz’s head during that hit. No word yet if the league’s department of player discipline will be looking at this. It’s interesting that Robin Lehner didn’t split the goalie duties with Fleury. Perhaps he’ll get the start in the Golden Knights’ first game in the round-robin on Monday. 

Viktor Arvidsson scored twice while Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne combined for a 26-save shutout as the Nashville Predators blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. Stars center Tyler Seguin was scratched from the lineup (unfit to play), while forward Andrew Cogliano left the game in the second period favoring his left leg following a collision with Predators defenseman Yannick Weber.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin is expected to be ready for the round-robin starting Aug. 3 against the Golden Knights. No update was provided on Cogliano’s status.


NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman John Carlson didn’t practice yesterday after missing the final half of the third period of Wednesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Carlson crashed awkwardly into the boards and was removed from the game as a precautionary measure. Head coach Todd Reirden expects the blueliner will return to practice on Saturday.

CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson took part in special teams’ practice yesterday. He’s still recovering from a knee injury suffered during the regular season. Johnsson isn’t expected in the lineup when the Leafs face off against the Blues Jackets on Sunday in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series.

THE AHL.COM: American Hockey League president and CEO Scott Howson announced a revised start date of Dec. 4 for their 2020-21 season. Details of their full schedule have yet to be determined.

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.


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.


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.


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 – May 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2020

Erik Karlsson explains why he feels his club shouldn’t finish this season, Florida governor said his state is open to pro sports teams, and some prospects want the draft to be held in June. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson made a rational argument against his club potentially completing the rest of the regular season if the NHL resumes playing this summer. He pointed out the Sharks were well out of playoff contention when the schedule was paused. “Obviously for us, it doesn’t really matter what happens to the season, personally. But at the same time, you do feel for the guys and the teams that are in a totally different position.”

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (Photo via NHL Images).

Karlsson indicted he’d probably feel differently if the Sharks were a Stanley Cup contender like they were a year ago. “But as of right now, I don’t know what the point is for us to come back if they’re gonna play us five games [and we’ll] be away from our family and friends and put ourselves in that position for pretty much nothing.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson isn’t the only player on a non-contending team expressing reluctance about completing the regular-season schedule. He makes a good point, as he and his teammates would have little to play for.  Lately, however, reports have emerged indicating the league could be moving away from that format, looking instead on going straight into the post-season schedule. 

ESPN.COM: Florida governor Ron DeSantis said his state is open for professional sports teams to practice and play. “What I would tell commissioners of leagues is, if you have a team in an area where they just won’t let them operate, we’ll find a place for you here in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Florida could be a potential NHL Atlantic Division host location. Arizona also recently made a similar announcement but they’re reportedly not among the contenders to be an NHL neutral-site host.


OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports player agent Andy Scott said the prospects he represents are keen for the NHL to hold the 2020 Draft in June.  “They’d rather have the draft in June and not have all of the anxiety the entire summer of where they’re going to go in the draft,” he said. “They’d rather get it over with, understand what team owns their rights, and be able to have some communication with that team throughout the summer.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t blames those youngsters for wanting to get this done as soon as possible. The league proposed staging the draft next month before resuming this season, but there’s reportedly been pushback against that idea from NHL general managers. A decision could be reached by the end of next week. 

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports AHL president David Andrews isn’t ruling out having less than 31 teams participating next season if social distancing rules prevent fans from attending games. “We have 19 NHL-owned teams and 12 independently-owned teams. And the independently owned teams are in very good financial condition, even after what happened in this 2019-20 season,” he said. “But if their businesses aren’t viable, if they have to play in front of an empty building for six months, some of those teams will likely choose not to play.”

Andrews explained his league relies more on gate revenue than the NHL. “We have very little in the way of rights fee revenue for television We have fairly decent streaming revenue, but not enough to sustain [31 teams]. Our corporate partnership revenue is linked to having people in the seats. Without being able to put fans in the seats, it would be a much different-looking league,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the AHL could return next season with only 19 clubs in operation. It could be a one-season pause for the dozen independents, but it would certainly raise questions over the long-term futures of those 12 franchises.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2020

The impact of the AHL’s season cancelation upon the NHL, the ongoing search for a solution to resume the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


SPORTSNET: The American Hockey League (AHL) yesterday announced the cancelation of its 2019-20 season. The league is the primary feeder system for the National Hockey League.  AHL president David Andrews said the league couldn’t afford to complete the season without fans in the arenas. This will mark the first time since 1937 that the Calder Cup won’t be awarded to the AHL champion.

The American Hockey League canceled the remainder of its 2019-20 season.

Chris Johnston reported Andrews indicated there’s uncertainty over the league’s 2020-21 season. “The American Hockey League as it presently operates can not play in front of empty buildings for any sustained period of time,” he said. 

Andrews said the AHL will play next season, pointing out its value as a development league for the NHL. Johnston reports the prevailing opinion among NHL executives is that the AHL won’t return with all of its teams to start next season, which could result in some shared NHL affiliation agreements until things get back to normal.

Johnston pointed out that some AHL players could join their NHL affiliates. “The NHL is still actively engaged in trying to finish its season and teams believe they’ll return with expanded rosters of 30 players or more if it manages to restart. Those taxi squads will be essential to finishing out an expanded 24-team Stanley Cup playoff format that’s currently believed to be the favored option of the league.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin reports the AHL’s closure isn’t a harbinger of what could be in store for the NHL. “The NHL has far more resources at its disposal than the AHL and, under return-to-play scenarios, can ease back into competition by broadcasting the games on national TV. Given the ratings we’ve already seen for events such as the NFL draft, there’s an excellent chance the NHL’s empty-arena games would draw huge national audiences in Canada and the U.S. upon returning.”

Larkin also reported NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated there won’t be any need to make an exception to the rules to allow NHL teams to expand their rosters. That’s because it’s already permitted following the annual trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The AHL’s 2020-21 season will depend upon how long health restrictions remain in place in its respective markets. Because it is more reliant on gate revenue than the NHL, it could face significant challenges if the pandemic stretches into next season.


THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun interviewed Philadelphia Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk regarding his role on the NHL’s Return to Play Committee. “There’s a good mix of guys on each side, so no stone will be left unturned as we try to navigate the safest, best way to hopefully get things going again,” said van Riemsdyk. He indicated ensuring the health and safety for all concerned remains their primary focus.

JVR acknowledged whatever format the league chooses for its return probably won’t please everyone. He pointed out the difficulty of trying to find the right scenario given how quickly things can change throughout the pandemic.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith reports the NHL isn’t permitting teams to sign contracts with players for the current season. “After the NHL suspended its season amid the coronavirus pandemic in March, the league told teams that no contracts for draft picks or college, junior, or European free agents could be signed with a start date of the current season.” According to Gold-Smith, any contracts signed will be dated July 1 and take effect in 2020-21.



LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings’ assistant general manager Michael Futa will be leaving the organization following the imminent completion of his contract. He played a key role in building the Kings’ championship rosters in 2012 and 2014.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Futa is frequently mentioned as a candidate whenever a team is in the market for a general manager. Perhaps this decision means he’s finally about to take the plunge. The New Jersey Devils are believed in the market for a new GM.

JATKOAIKA 65: reports Florida Panthers center Henrik Borgstrom is reportedly talking contract with KHL club Jokerit. Borgstrom is a restricted free agent at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Borgstrom was once considered a promising part of the Panthers’ future. The 22-year-old center debuted in 50 games last season but saw action in just four games in his sophomore campaign. Perhaps Borgstrom’s rumored talks with Jokerit are being conducted with the Panthers’ blessing. They’ll still hold his NHL rights beyond next season. Spending a year back home in Finland might help get his career back on track.

TSN: To celebrate their 25th anniversary next season, the Colorado Avalanche are considering playing a handful of games in the old Quebec Nordiques jersey. The Nordiques were relocated to Denver and renamed the Avalanche following the 1994-95 season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy unveils his final rankings for the top 120 prospects in this year’s draft.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2020

The latest on the league’s plans for the schedule and the draft, the Capitals place Brendan Leipsic on waivers, the Canadiens sign Alexander Romanov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


TSN: Frank Seravalli reports half of the NHL’s 31 markets would have been permitted to open team facilities as of Friday. That includes those in the province of Ontario. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said things are moving in the right direction. However, he adds it’s still not an acceptable mass for the league to move into Phase 2 of its Return To Play protocol to allow smalls groups of players to resume practicing in their respective team facilities.

The NHL isn’t ready yet to direct its teams to reopen training facilities (Photo via NHL.com).

That number could rise to 22 clubs as restrictions are eased by May 15 in Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Nevada. The league hasn’t yet determined what an “acceptable mass” would be and it likely won’t be a set number.

Daly also said the league is considering alternative plans for teams in markets unable to reopen. Seravalli reports the league still hasn’t outline specifics that would ensure safety for entering Phase 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is unfolding daily and the NHL still has details to work out before moving to its second phase. The league set mid-to-late May as its Phase 2 timetable. While it appears to be getting closer, ensuring the safety of everyone involved in reopening team practice facilities remains the main sticking point. Until that’s sorted out, the fact players can return to their facilities doesn’t necessarily mean they will

Ryan Rishaug reports the Edmonton Oilers are still working on their proposal to the province of Alberta to become a hub city when the NHL resumes its schedule.

CALGARY SUN: Whenever the Flames return to the Saddledome, they’ll find a facility that has been scrubbed and disinfected to within an inch of its life.


TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports it’s still unclear when the NHL will decide on their plans for this year’s draft. “One of the many matters that are being analyzed and worked on. There is no urgency to reaching a decision on this, at least currently,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seemed a certainty the NHL would announce an early draft before resuming the season entering this week. That they’re not saying there’s no current urgent to make a decision suggests considerable pushback from the board of governors and the general managers, or maybe dealing with the conditional picks in this year’s draft proved too complicated to sort out, or perhaps the NHL brain trust is realizing holding the draft early won’t be the rating bonanza they thought it might be. We’ll hopefully know more in a week.


NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals placed forward Brendan Leipsic on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract for his offensive comments made on social media.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leipsic was the author of his demise and every NHL club probably would’ve handled his situation the same way. His big-league career is probably over. However, I doubt the punishment for his misogynistic comments would’ve been as harsh if Leipsic was an NHL star. In that scenario, he’d make a big public apology followed by several weeks of counseling and rehab. He’d return to action and the entire incident would be treated as a minor speedbump in an otherwise stellar career.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday signed KHL defenseman Alexander Romanov to a three-year entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Romanov is a promising young puck-moving defenseman who’s been compared to former Hab Mikhail Sergachev and Los Angeles Kings star Drew Doughty. He’s achieved almost mythical status among some Canadiens fans before he’s even donned their sweater. Despite the favorable comparisons to Sergachev and Doughty, Romanov’s yet to make his NHL debut. It will probably take him some time to adjust to the pace. Habs fans should temper their expectations until they see what this kid can do.

SPORTSNET: The NHL and NHLPA announced the postponement of their 2020 international games. The Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators were to stage their 2020-21 season openers in Prague, Czech Republic. The Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blues Jackets were also to stage a pair of games in Helsinki, Finland.

OTTAWA SUN: The American Hockey League’s board of governors held a conference call Friday to discuss canceling the remainder of its season. An official announcement could be made on Monday.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs assistant coach Paul McFarland will leave the club at the end of this season to take over the head-coaching role with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.