NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 27, 2022

The Colorado Avalanche are the 2022 Stanley Cup champions and Cale Makar is named playoff MVP. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are Stanley Cup champions for the first time in 21 years. They defeated the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final to take the best-of-seven series in six games.

Colorado Avalanche win the 2022 Stanley Cup (NHL.com).

Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist and Artturi Lehkonen tallied the game-winner as the Avalanche overcame a 1-0 deficit in the second period. Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves for the win. Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning.

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason. The 23-year-old led the Avalanche with 29 points in 20 games. He’s the third defenseman in NHL history to win the Smythe and the James Norris Trophy as the top blueliner in the regular season, joining Bobby Orr (1970, 1972) and Nicklas Lidstrom (2002). He’s also the third defenseman to win the Smythe at 23 or younger, with Orr (1970) and Serge Savard (1969) as the others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Makar and to his Avalanche teammates for their well-deserved Stanley Cup championship. Their Stanley Cup parade in Denver will be held on Thursday, June 30, starting at 10 am local time.

SPORTSNET: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri revealed he suffered multiple breaks in his thumb in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals with the Edmonton Oilers. He returned to action in Game 4 of this series and scored the overtime winner. Kadri also had some choice words for his critics. “For everyone that thought I was a liability in the playoffs, you can kiss my ass,” he said.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar has now won a championship in three professional leagues. He coached the South Carolina Stingrays to the ECHL’s Kelly Cup in 2009 and the Lake Erie Monsters to the AHL’s Calder Cup in 2016.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bednar’s first season behind the Avalanche bench in 2016-17 saw them finish with a league-worst record of 22-56-4, prompting some critics to suggest he was unsuitable to coach at the NHL level or not the right bench boss for a rebuilding club. The criticism resurfaced last year as the club failed to advance past the second round after winning the Presidents’ Trophy. However, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic stuck with him and was rewarded for his loyalty.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was unavailable to present the Stanley Cup after being diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s the first time since he became commissioner in 1993 that he hasn’t presented the Cup to the winning team. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly did the honors in his absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The presentation wasn’t the same without Bettman getting booed. In all seriousness, here’s hoping he makes a full recovery. The same goes to everyone else out there who’s also currently battling COVID-19.

It took only five minutes for the Stanley Cup to suffer some damage. Avalanche forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel accidentally dropped it as he was joining his teammates for the traditional post-game on-ice team photo, denting the base of the trophy.

THE DENVER POST: Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky revealed he broke his right thumb during Game 2 of the Cup Final, sidelining him for the remainder of the series. Winger Valeri Nichushkin played through an ankle injury that he suffered in Game 5. Team captain Gabriel Landeskog skipped all the postseason morning skates as he continued to recover from the knee surgery he underwent near the end of the regular season.

SPORTSNET: Lightning center Brayden Point missed Game 6 with what was called a “severe injury” by coach Jon Cooper. Point suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of the first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs and missed the next two series. He returned for two games in the Final before leaving the lineup again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper described the number of injuries suffered by his players during this postseason as “mind-boggling”. Details should emerge in the coming days. He said they would’ve had half of their minor-league team playing if it had been the regular season.

THE SCORE: Cooper and Lightning captain Steven Stamkos dismissed the idea that their time as Stanley Cup contenders is over. “Who says we’re done?” he told reporters following the game. Cooper pointed out his club has been to six Conference Finals in the past eight years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend on what moves general manager Julien BriseBois makes in the offseason. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumors update.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2022

The latest on the Avalanche and Lightning ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, an update on the Coyotes’ efforts to build a new arena, Gary Bettman addresses Joel Quenneville’s future, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano are each making progress in their recoveries from thumb surgeries. Kadri has been skating on his own and practicing his stickhandling while Cogliano took part in a full team practice on Friday with the fourth line.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche remains hopeful both players will return to action at some point during the Stanley Cup Final. However, there is no timetable for when that might happen.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning will attempt to generate more traffic in front of Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday. While the Lightning was outshot 38-23 in Game 1, they felt they didn’t create more havoc around the Avalanche net, especially in hunting down rebounds for scoring chances.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, expect the Lightning to try and get more bodies in front of Kuemper for screened shots while attempting to pounce on rebounds he can’t control.

TSN: The Arizona Coyotes have received approval to open negotiations with the city of Tempe to build a new arena closer to downtown Phoenix. The club hopes to have a deal for the 46-acre tract of land worked out by the end of this year, but Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez acknowledged it could take longer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A new NHL-style arena will ensure the Coyotes’ long-term future in Arizona. Until it’s built, they’ll be playing in Arizona State University’s 5,000-seat venue for the next three seasons.

NEW YORK POST: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he doesn’t know if Joel Quenneville will be returning to pro hockey. Quenneville stepped down as head coach of the Florida Panthers last October when an investigation revealed his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, mishandled sexual abuse allegations made by former Blackhawks player Kyle Beach.

Bettman didn’t rule out the possibility of Quenneville one day returning to the NHL coaching ranks. However, it would require the commissioner’s approval. He said Quenneville has indicated he’d like to be part of the game again at the appropriate time. “I don’t think this is the time,” said Bettman. “But we’ll see what happens in the future.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quenneville is among the most successful coaches in NHL history. However, he put the Blackhawks’ pursuit of the 2010 Stanley Cup over the protection, safety and well-being of Beach.

Bettman may have left the door open for Quenneville to come back but his comments indicate it won’t happen anytime soon. The argument can be made that Quenneville deserves a second chance, but one can counter that he hasn’t paid a full enough price for his role in the Blackhawks’ cover-up of Beach’s allegations.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Florida Panthers have interviewed multiple candidates for their head coaching job in recent weeks. They include Barry Trotz, Pete DeBoer, Rick Tocchet, Travis Green and potentially Paul Maurice.

Meanwhile, interim coach Andrew Brunette is still awaiting his fate. He was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, guiding the Panthers to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can understand the Panthers conducting due diligence given the number of highly-qualified coaching candidates currently available. Nevertheless, it’s an awkward look to be talking to applicants when your interim bench boss was a finalist for coach of the year. Should Brunette win the Adams Award, one has to wonder if they’ll continue interviewing contenders for the job.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed Liam Foudy to a two-year contract extension on Friday. The first year is a two-way deal with a salary worth $725K at the NHL level and the second year is a one-way deal worth $775K. The 22-year-old forward is a former first-round pick (18th overall) in 2018.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2022

The Avalanche take Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, highlights of Commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual state of the league press conference, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Andre Burakovsky’s overtime goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Colorado Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky (NHL Images).

Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin each had a goal and an assist while Mikko Rantanen collected two assists for the Avalanche, who took a 3-1 lead into the second period. Nick Paul, Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev replied for the Lightning, who rallied to tie the game and force overtime.

Game 2 will be on Saturday, June 19, at 8 pm ET in Denver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’re in store for a very entertaining, fast-paced series if Game 1 is any indication. The Avalanche dominated the play in the first period and much of the third, while the Lightning once again showed their poise and experience by overcoming that early deficit in the second period. Penalty killing was crucial for the Avs as they successfully killed off three shorthanded situations.

The Lightning’s Brayden Point made his long-expected return to the lineup from a lower-body injury suffered in the first round. Avalanche center Nazem Kadri remains sidelined with a thumb injury with no timetable for his return.

NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league generated record revenues projected to exceed $5.2 billion as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. He anticipates more significant increases to the salary cap within the next two-three years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per the NHL-NHLPA Memorandum of Understanding from 2020, the salary cap will increase by $1 million annually until the players have paid back their overage of hockey-related revenue still owed to the owners for 2019-20 and 2020-21.

THE ATHLETIC: Bettman indicated the 2022-23 season will return to a normal calendar schedule beginning on Oct. 11.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league doesn’t believe at this point that there need to be changes made to the long-term injury reserve system. It had been discussed during the general managers’ meeting in March with an idea of a playoff salary cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That came about over complaints of teams garnering a salary-cap advantage by placing a player on long-term injury reserve, using the cap relief to add players for the postseason, only to see the LTIR player return to action in the playoffs.

The insinuation was that some teams may be attempting to circumvent the cap by leaving players on LTIR when they may be healthy enough to return to action. However, the league hasn’t found any instance where this was the case.

Daly also said the league has begun its investigation of a sexual assault lawsuit filed against Hockey Canada and the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). The suit alleges eight players, including some members of Canada’s 2018 World Junior team, sexually assaulted a young woman in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the players on that team are now in the NHL. It has yet to be determined whether any of them were among those who assaulted the woman.

NHL.COM: Daly said the league is “very optimistic” that it will be able to stage a World Cup of Hockey tournament in February 2024. Discussions between the NHL, NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation are ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like the idea of a World Cup of Hockey in February rather than September as in previous years. After all, if the league was prepared to shuttered the season for two weeks to accommodate Olympic participation, they can do it for a World Cup.

Unlike the Olympics, the league and the players would reap the financial benefits from a World Cup. The players would be in midseason game shape, making for a better tournament and drawing more potential fans to the game.

DAILY FACEOFF: Daly indicated the players on the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning have been informed that the winner of this year’s Stanley Cup Final will not be allowed to take the Cup to Russia or Belarus in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Three Lightning players – Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Vasilevskiy – are from Russia while Valeri Nichushkin is the only Russian-born Avalanche player. There are no Belarussians on either club.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Daly also said the arbitration on Evander Kane’s contract termination grievance with the San Jose Sharks may not be resolved until July 13, which is the start of the NHL’s free agent period. The arbitrator assigned to the case isn’t available to conduct the hearing until next month.

Kane is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13. If his case remains unresolved by then, it’s not expected to prevent him from signing another contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will have significant implications for the Sharks. They will have $7 million in salary-cap limbo until such time as Kane’s case is resolved.

It could also affect Kane’s efforts to sign with another club. Interested parties could prefer to await the outcome of his hearing before making offers to him.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: There won’t be any changes in how NHL teams report injuries. It was assumed the league’s partnership with gambling outlets would lead to more specific information being released on player injuries other than “upper-body” or “lower-body.”

OTTAWA SUN: It’s expected the NHL Board of Governors will be informed today that it is business as usual for the Senators since the passing of team owner Eugene Melnyk in March. The club continues to be run by a board of directors and a professional management group while Melnyk’s daughters do their due diligence on the franchise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the club isn’t being sold and it won’t be relocated to another city.

Speaking of the Senators, they signed center Dylan Gambrell to a one-year, $950K contract extension.

TSN: The agent for Johnny Gaudreau denied a report claiming his client had reached an agreement on a long-term extension with the Calgary Flames. “There is no truth to it,” said Lewis Gross.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s believed negotiations are ongoing between the Flames and the Gaudreau camp. Both sides agreed at the start of this season that they would keep those discussions out of the media.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets signed goaltender Daniil Tarasov to a three-year contract extension worth a total of $3.15 million.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2022

The Avalanche take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Predators while the Capitals, Penguins and Stars go up 2-1 in their respective first-round series. Check out the details plus the latest news in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are on the verge of sweeping the Nashville Predators following a 7-3 victory in Game 3 of their best-of-seven opening-round series. Their win, however, was overshadowed by an eye injury suffered by goaltender Darcy Kuemper as he left the game late in the first period when the blade of Predators center Ryan Johansen accidentally poked through the protective cage of his mask.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper (NHL Images).

Pavel Francouz replaced Kuemper and made 18 saves for the win. Gabriel Landeskog had two goals and set up two others while Cale Makar had three assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thankfully, it appears Kuemper’s injury wasn’t as serious as feared as Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said the netminder could potentially return for Game 4 on Monday in Nashville. He also absolved Johansen, calling the episode an accident.

Penalties proved costly for the Predators in this contest as the Avalanche went four-for-seven on the power play. Up three games to none, they can wrap up this series in Game 4.

Alex Ovechkin scored and collected an assist while goalie Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first playoff win to defeat the Florida Panthers 6-1 and take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series. Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Anthony Mantha and Marcus Johansson each collected two points. Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers. Game 4 is Monday night in Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the game, Samsonov admitted feeling emotional as Washington fans chanted his name. He also commended his teammates’ solid defensive play in this contest, which has been a significant factor in both Capitals’ wins in this series.

The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a 4-1 lead but recovered to down the New York Rangers 7-4 to take a two-game to one lead in their series. Three unanswered third-period goals by Danton Heinen, Jake Guentzel and Jeff Carter put the game away for Pittsburgh. Carter and Evan Rodrigues each tallied twice while Penguins third-string goaltender Louis Domingue stopped 32 shots. Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin was pulled after giving up four goals on 15 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That game was certainly a wild ride for fans of both clubs. The power play made the difference for the Penguins, going two for three with the man advantage. The two clubs clash again in Game 4 on Monday in Pittsburgh.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski scored two goals, including the game-winner to lead his club over the Calgary Flames 4-2 to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series. Jake Oettinger kicked out 39 shots for the win while Miro Heiskanen chipped in two assists. Flames forward Elias Lindholm netted his team-leading second goal of the series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the second straight game Pavelski tallied the winning goal. At 37, he continues to defy Father Time while playing a key role as a top-line forward for the Stars. Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau had a great chance to tie the game 3-3 late in the third but Oettinger stopped his breakaway scoring chance.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Jordan Binnington could see his first start of this postseason as his St. Louis Blues face off against the Minnesota Wild this evening in Game 4 of their first-round series. Ville Husso was between the pipes for the Blues in the previous three games.

Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich could also make his debut in this series after being sidelined since January by a wrist injury. He would replace Torey Krug, who left Game 3 with an injured leg and is expected to miss some time.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes could shake things up for Game 4 today against the Boston Bruins. Derek Stepan could replace a sidelined Jordan Martinook while Max Domi or Martin Necas could take a seat in favor of Steven Lorentz.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former Sharks forward Patrick Marleau will make an announcement on Tuesday regarding the future of his hockey career. The 42-year-old hasn’t played since the 2020-21 season and is the all-time NHL leader in games played with 1,779. He spent 21 of his 23 NHL seasons with the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If I were a betting man I’d say Marleau will be officially announcing his retirement. If so, it’ll be interesting to find out if he intends in staying in the game in some capacity, perhaps in a front-office role with the Sharks.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks parted ways with five of their amateur scouts on Friday. Former NHL players Pat Conacher and Ted Hampson.

NJ.COM: Former NHL forward Jay Pandolfo was named the new head coach at Boston University. He played for BU in 1995, helping them win the national title before going on to a 15-year NHL career, including 13 seasons with the New Jersey Devils.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said on Friday that Russian prospects will remain eligible for selection in the 2022 NHL Draft. It remains to be seen if Russia will be invited to participate in a potential World Cup of Hockey before the 2026 Winter Olympics. The NHL suspended business ties with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 5, 2022

The Hurricanes take a 2-0 series lead over the Bruins, the Lightning, Oilers and Wild tie their opening-round series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes became the first team in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs to open a 2-0 lead in the opening-round best-of-seven series with a 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pyotr Kochetkov made 30 saves in relief of an injured Antti Raanta for the win in his first-ever NHL playoff game. Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter each scored twice for the Hurricanes. Patrice Bergeron scored both goals for the Bruins, who also lost defenseman Hampus Lindholm following a thunderous hit from Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta was sidelined in the first period following a collision with Bruins winger David Pastrnak. His status, and that of Lindholm, remains uncertain as there was no update on their respective conditions following this game.

Dominated by the Hurricanes for lengthy stretches in the first two games, the Bruins have been forced to play catch-up thus far in this series. I expect Jeremy Swayman to replace Linus Ullmark in goal for the Bruins as the series shifts to Boston for the next two games.

The Canes, meanwhile, will be hoping Raanta or sidelined starter Frederik Andersen will be ready for at least backup duty in Game 3. Third-stringer Kochetkov played well in Game 2 but they’re running out of healthy netminders with NHL experience.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman had a goal and three assists as his club held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3, tying their first-round series at a game apiece. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists for the Lightning. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner each had two points for the Leafs while teammate Michael Bunting scored in his return to the lineup after being sidelined by injury on April 23. The series moves to Tampa Bay for the next two games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning rebounded well from their lopsided loss in Game 1. They made the Leafs pay for their undisciplined play in this contest, going three for seven on the power play.

Speaking of bounce-back performances, the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Los Angeles Kings 6-0 to tie their opening-round series 1-1. Mike Smith picked up the shutout with a 30-save effort while Evander Kane scored twice and collected an assist. Games 3 and 4 of this series will be played in Los Angeles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers blew this one open with three goals in the second period, outshooting the Kings 19-9 in that frame. They remain lethal with the man advantage in this series, going two for four on the power play for the second straight contest.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov had a hat trick and teammate Joel Eriksson Ek tallied twice in a 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, tying their series at one apiece. Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 32 shots for the win. Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov continues setting franchise records for the Wild. He became the first player in team history to record a postseason hat trick.

St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo left the game after being struck in the head by a puck in the first period. Blues rearguards Marco Scandella and Nick Leddy missed Game 2 with injuries while sidelined Scott Perunovich won’t be ready for Game 3.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty are among this season’s 32 players nominated for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award is presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to the community.”

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Tom Wilson (lower-body injury) is a game-time decision for Game 2 of his club’s series with the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins announced goaltender Casey DeSmith (undisclosed injury) and winger Rickard Rakell (upper body) are listed as day-to-day. Each remains under evaluation. The Penguins recalled netminder Alex D’Orio from their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Penguins starter Tristan Jarry still rehabbing an injured right foot, Louis Domingue will get the call for tonight’s game if DeSmith isn’t cleared to play.

TSN: Don’t expect any change to the current NHL playoff format. League commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday dismissed the notion of expanding the format, claiming the current one creates greater competition and more meaningful games during the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s expansion to 32 franchises has some pundits calling for an expansion from the current 16-team setup to 20 or 22 with a “play-in” round. The only way I see Bettman changing his mind is if it can be proven that expanding the format will bring about a significant increase in revenue. Any change to the current format will have to come from a majority of the NHL board of governors.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils parted ways with assistant coaches Mark Recchi and Alain Nasreddine. No word on the future of head coach Lindy Ruff, who has a year remaining on his contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Former NHL player Mike Ribeiro has been charged with sexual assault stemming from two incidents last June in East Texas. He was arrested on April 28 and released the same day on a $200,000 bond.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Frans Nielsen intends to retire after he plays for Denmark in the upcoming 2021 World Championships. The 38-year-old center spent 15 seasons with the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings and was bought out of the final year of his contract with the Wings last summer. He spent this season with Eisbaren Berlin, helping them win the German DEL championship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nielsen was considered a solid two-way center during his playing prime. He finished with 167 goals and 306 points for 473 points in 925 NHL contests. Best wishes to Nielsen in his future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 5, 2022

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.