NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2022

The Avalanche are one win away from becoming Stanley Cup champions, the Panthers name Paul Maurice as head coach, Ben Bishop is interested in joining Stars management, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche is one win away from winning hockey’s greatest prize following a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. Nazem Kadri scored in overtime to give the Avalanche a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Kadri’s goal was controversial as the Avalanche appeared to have too many men on the ice. Lightning head coach Jon Cooper indicated his belief that the goal shouldn’t have counted during his brief post-game press conference.

NHL Hockey Operations released a statement following the game claiming the on-ice officials didn’t see a too-many-men situation on the ice at the time of Kadri’s goal. The call is not subject to video review.

It wasn’t the only goal that emerged from questionable circumstances for some fans. The Lightning’s Anthony Cirelli opened the scoring but the mask of Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper was knocked off prior to the goal. However, NHL Rule 9.6 (helmets) states that when a goaltender loses his facemask and/or helmet and the opposing team has control of the puck, play is stopped only when there is no immediate or impending scoring opportunity.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a shame that such a well-played game would end in controversy. I don’t fault the on-ice officials as the rulebook leaves it up to their judgment to determine what constitutes a too-many-men situation. Calls can also sometimes get missed in the heat of the action and it’s not easy to see everything even with four officials on the ice. 

Nevertheless, it’s puzzling that this type of play isn’t reviewable. If it was, perhaps Kadri’s goal wouldn’t have counted.

For NHL fans of a certain age, this will be comparable to Brett Hull’s “skate in the crease” Cup-winning goal in the 1999 Stanley Cup Final. Should the Avalanche go on to win this series, some will consider their championship to be tainted.

Game 5 is Friday in Denver.

CBS SPORTS: Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak left Game 4 in the second period after blocking a show by Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon. His status is unclear for Game 5.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers officially named Paul Maurice as their new head coach. Interim coach Andrew Brunette, who was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, has been asked to remain with the organization and could join Maurice’s staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I get why the Panthers hired Maurice given his 24 years of NHL coaching experience with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. Brunette’s inexperience was apparent when the Panthers were swept from the second round by the Lightning.

Still, Brunette did a good job taking over behind the Panthers bench in difficult circumstances after Joel Quenneville stepped down last October, guiding them to their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history. Unless there were issues among the players over Brunette’s coaching, he should’ve been given the opportunity to return behind their bench next season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Former Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop is interested in joining the club’s management in some capacity. He and the team are currently discussing a potential role for him within their front office.

SPORTICO: The Arizona Coyotes are pitching a $1.7 billion arena complex with the city of Tempe for a 46-acre property on a current landfill site. Earlier this month, the Tempe City council voted to move forward with arena negotiation talks with the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes reportedly hope to secure the go-ahead from the Tempe City Council to begin construction by the end of this year at the earliest. It could take three years before the arena could be ready for use.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks named Meghan Hunter and Mark Eaton as their new assistant general managers.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Connor Dewar to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils co-owner Michael Rubin is selling his stake in the franchise and his stake in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2022

The 2022 Stanley Cup Final schedule is announced, the Stars trade Ben Bishop’s contract to Buffalo, Ryan Miller’s number to be retired by the Sabres, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2022 Stanley Cup Final will begin on June 15 or June 18 depending on the outcome of the Eastern Conference Finals.

If the Tampa Bay Lightning win Game 6 on Saturday, they will face off against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver for Game 1 of the Cup Final on June 15.

If the Rangers win Game 6 and force a seventh and deciding game of the Conference Final on Monday, the winner of that game will meet the Avalanche in Colorado for Game 1 of the Cup Final on June 18.

WGR 550/THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Dallas Stars traded the contract of Ben Bishop along with their 2022 seventh-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for future considerations. A knee injury ended the 35-year-old goaltender’s career but he hasn’t officially retired because he remains under contract through 2022-23.

Dallas Stars trade Ben Bishop’s contract to the Buffalo Sabres (NHL.com).

The Stars clear Bishop’s contract from their books, allowing them to avoid potential bonus overages in 2023-24. It also makes it easier for them to navigate the salary cap in 2022-23 without Bishop on long-term injury reserve.

As for the Sabres, the move allows them to get closer to next season’s $61 million salary-cap minimum by taking on Bishop’s $4.9 million cap hit for next season, though in actual salary they’ll pay him $3.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some readers might wonder why the Stars didn’t just retain Bishop and put him on LTIR to exceed the cap next season. Once they do that, however, they won’t be able to accrue salary-cap space.

That’s why we hear trade rumors of cap-strapped teams trying to peddle the contracts of permanently sidelined players to teams looking to reach the cap floor. What also made Bishop’s contract enticing to the Sabres is that his actual salary is less than his cap hit.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Sabres, they will retire Ryan Miller’s No. 30 during a ceremony next season. Miller, 41, retired at the end of last season following an 18-season career, 11 of those spent with the Sabres from 2002-03 until traded to the St. Louis Blues before the 2014 trade deadline.

Miller is the Sabres’ all-time leader with 284 wins and sits second to Dominik Hasek with 28 shutouts. He backstopped them to consecutive Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007 and won the Vezina Trophy in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Miller for this well-deserved honor.

SPORTSNET: Carey Price recently had a platelet-rich plasma injection as part of his treatment for the knee injury that still threatens to end his playing career. The 34-year-old Montreal Canadiens goaltender hopes to begin ramping up his training as he intends to start preparing to play. “I don’t think I will actually have an idea of how that’s going to look until later this summer when I’ve taken all the necessary steps to get back on the ice again.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ongoing uncertainty over Price’s status will affect whatever decision they make regarding their goaltending for next season. They could end up shopping for help by placing him on LTIR. They also have Jake Allen under contract for next season and could give Cayden Primeau another try between the pipes if Price can’t play.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: With eight goals, Ondrej Palat has taken over the Lightning goal-scoring lead this postseason. He’s tallied in the last three games, including two game winners.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant could break up his Kid Line of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere for tonight’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The line saw limited ice time during the Rangers’ 3-1 loss in Game 5.

Speaking of the Rangers, one of their fans was arrested and charged with two counts of assault, two counts of disorderly conduct and two counts of harassment after sucker-punching a Lightning fan in Madison Square Garden following Game 5 and then punching another fan who attempted to stop him from fleeing the arena. Garden officials condemned the incident and banned the fan from all their venues for life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At some point in that guy’s life, somebody probably warned him that his temper would get him into trouble…

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: A source indicates Fenway Sports Group will name Kevin Acklin as the Penguins’ president of business operations.

THE ATHLETIC: Sean McIndoe looked at several theories regarding why Canadian teams haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have two that didn’t appear on McIndoe’s otherwise solid list.

First, Canadian clubs are outnumbered by a much larger margin of American teams than they were during the Stanley Cup glory years of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. That makes it more difficult to build and maintain a Cup contender.

The other is all seven of the current Canadian teams have also suffered the consequences of mismanagement since 1993. Sometimes, those decisions were based on the misguided view that their fans wouldn’t support a rebuild. Others were due to meddling ownership, inexperience or just poor judgment.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2021

Concern as COVID-19 cases rises among the players, Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews scoring reach milestones and Ben Bishop ends his playing career. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

COVID-19 CASES RISING AMONG NHL PLAYERS

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Tuesday’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild was postponed as six Hurricanes players and a member of their training staff went into COVID protocol. Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Steve Lorentz and Ian Cole entered the protocol one day after Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis did. The NHL will provide a further update on the Hurricanes schedule on Wednesday.

CALGARY SUN: The number of Flames on COVID protocol reached 10 after Milan Lucic, Sean Monahan and Noah Hanifin were placed on the list yesterday.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal is in COVID protocol. This comes three days after Casey Cizikas was the last of eight Isles to come off the list following an outbreak that began last month.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews will miss at least six games after testing positive for COVID-19.

THE PROVINCE: Four members of the Vancouver Canucks (Luke Schenn, Tucker Poolman, Brad Hunt and Juho Lammikko) have tested positive for COVID-19 since Monday. Poolman was pulled from last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets five minutes into the first period after the results of his test came through.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Ryan McLeod joined the COVID protocol list yesterday. Head coach Dave Tippett was held out of last night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs as a precautionary measure.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers forward Morgan Frost left last night’s game against the New Jersey Devils within the first five minutes of the first period due to COVID protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: 24 NHL players entered the league’s COVID protocol within 36 hours. The good news is their symptoms (and those of players who tested positive earlier this season) were in most cases minor because all but one player is double-vaccinated. Nevertheless, they must self-isolate for between seven-to-10 days depending on the outcome of subsequent testing to prevent or slow the spread of the coronavirus.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL isn’t considering pausing its schedule yet because of the recent outbreaks. Doctors with the league and NHLPA advising both sides had a call on Tuesday evening to discuss the latest events and consider the next steps. That could include a return to enhanced protocols such as more mandated mask-wearing to daily testing of players and staff.

The outbreaks also raised concern over NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics based on the three-to-five week quarantine rules for players who test positive while taking part in the Men’s Ice Hockey tournament. The mood among the NHLPA membership is to wait and see, review the information and reach a decision on participation as the Jan. 10 deadline to opt-out approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also said that to his knowledge no players have yet to decide against skating in the Olympics based on those strict COVID rules. The league has left it in the NHLPA’s hands whether or not they’ll take part. It could depend on the spread of the Omicron variant between now and the Jan. 10 deadline.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby became the 14th player in NHL history to reach 400 multi-point games by collecting two assists in a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Crosby is the only active player to reach that mark. Evan Rodrigues had a goal and two assists as the Penguins pushed their winning streak to five straight. The Canadiens have dropped seven in a row.

Auston Matthews scored two goals to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-1 victory over the slumping Edmonton Oilers. Matthews joined Dave Keon as the only Leaf to reach 20 goals in each of their first six seasons. The Leafs sit atop the overall standings with 42 points. Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith returned to action after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is now tied for second place in the goal-scoring race with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin with 20 goals. Edmonton Leon Draisaitl has 23.

The Vancouver Canucks extended their winning streak to five games by nipping the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Canucks overcame a 3-0 deficit as Bo Horvat scored twice and Quinn Hughes collected three assists. They have yet to lose since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach last week.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty tallied twice to extend his goal streak to seven games in a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Mark Stone collected two assists as he and Pacioretty have each collected points in nine straight contests.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Florida Panthers 8-2. Josh Norris scored twice and added an assist, Drake Batherson had a goal and three assists and Connor Brown had three helpers.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Cam Atkinson’s hat trick led his club to a 6-1 drubbing of the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers have won three straight games after dropping their first two games under interim coach Mike Yeo.

An overtime goal by Mathieu Joseph lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. The Lightning has won six of their last seven games. With 40 points, the defending Stanley Cup champions are just two back of the league-leading Maple Leafs.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin scored two goals and Nazem Kadri had three assists to beat the New York Rangers 4-2. Nathan MacKinnon also picked up two assists for the Avalanche as they’ve won five straight.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored and chipped in two assists in the St. Louis Blues’ 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. Blues goalie Charlie Lindgren made 33 saves as his club is unbeaten (4-0-2) in their last six games. The Stars, meanwhile, have dropped four straight.

The Buffalo Sabres snapped a seven-game skid by doubling up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Rasmus Dahlin scored twice (including the game-winner) while rookie goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 34 saves for his first career NHL win.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 34 saves to hold off the New York Islanders 2-1. Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen tallied for the Wings while Anders Lee replied for the Isles.

The Seattle Kraken got a 33-save performance by Chris Driedger to down the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Calle Jarnkrok had a goal and an assist.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has been officially named as GM of Team USA in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop yesterday announced his playing career was over after struggling with a knee injury that has hampered him since the 2019 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bishop and his family in their future endeavors. He was one of the NHL elite goaltenders between 2013-14 and 2019-20.

Bishop finishes with a record of 222 wins, 128 losses and 36 overtime losses with a career 2.32 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and 33 shutouts. He was a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist and a two-time Second Team All-Star during his tenures with the Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 12, 2021

Brady Tkachuk reaches a milestone, Ben Bishop’s career is over, more details emerge regarding Olympic quarantine rules, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brady Tkachuk tallied his first career NHL hat trick while Anton Forsberg made 25 saves for his first career NHL shutout as the Ottawa Senators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Drake Batherson had three assists and Thomas Chabot collected two helpers.

Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Sebastian Aho scored two goals and collected an assist to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Edmonton Oilers 3-1. Aho has netted multiple points in five straight games. The Hurricanes have won four straight while the Oilers’ losing skid has reached five straight. The Oilers played without defenseman Kris Russell (upper body), who was placed on injured reserve on Friday.

The New York Islanders finally picked up their first home win at UBS Arena by doubling up the New Jersey Devils 4-2. Zach Parise scored his first of the season while Mathew Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau each had two points. Devils center Nico Hischier and defenseman Ryan Graves missed the game after being placed in COVID protocol yesterday.

Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark kicked out 40 shots in a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand each had two points. The Flames also honored winger Milan Lucic for his 1,000th career NHL game. He reached that milestone in April but the Flames wanted to honor him during a game against the Bruins, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2011.

A late goal by David Kampf gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, who had overcome a 4-1 deficit. William Nylander had a goal and two assists while Auston Matthews and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist. Leafs goalie Petr Mrazek made 31 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a groin injury in October.

James van Riemsdyk scored two goals as the Philadelphia Flyers dropped the Arizona Coyotes 5-3, winning two straight games for the first time since October. Travis Konecny picked up two assists. Arizona defenseman Jakub Chychrun and forward Ryan Dzingel missed this game as both are day-to-day with injuries. The Coyotes have lost five straight.

T.J. Oshie’s shootout goal lifted the Washington Capitals over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, extending the latter’s losing skid to seven games. Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary returned from injury and scored the tying goal to force overtime and the shootout.

The Pittsburgh Penguins got a 33-save shutout from Casey DeSmith to blank the Anaheim Ducks 1-0. Brock McGinn tallied the only goal. Ducks goalie John Gibson left the game following the second period with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

An overtime goal by Jake Bean gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Kraken, who scored three unanswered third-period goals to force the extra frame. Max Domi had two goals and an assist for the Jackets. The Kraken were without Yanni Gourde and Riley Sheahan after they and assistant coach Jay Leach were placed in COVID protocol.

The Minnesota Wild’s eight-game winning streak came to an end as they fell 2-1 to the Los Angeles Kings. Brendan Lemieux snapped a 1-1 tie during the third period in his first game since serving a five-game suspension for biting the Senators’ Brady Tkachuk. Kings defenseman Alexander Edler left the game early in the first period with an injured left leg following a hit by Wild forward Brandon Duhaime. Kings coach Todd McLellan said Edler could be out “long term”.

Erik Karlsson scored what proved to be the game-winner as the San Jose Sharks held off the Dallas Stars 2-1. Sharks center Tomas Hertl scored in his fourth straight game while James Reimer made 34 saves for the win in his 400th career NHL contest. San Jose forward Kevin Labanc left the game following his first shift after being hit by the Stars’ Jani Hakanpaa.

The St. Louis Blues got a goal and an assist from Pavel Buchnevich to beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1, spoiling netminder Jake Allen’s return to St. Louis for the first time since he was traded to Montreal in 2020. Former Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren picked up the win with 22 stops. Before the game, the Canadiens announced Tyler Toffoli would be sidelined eight weeks following surgery on an injured hand while Jake Evans is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

HEADLINES

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars general manager Jim Nill said Ben Bishop’s playing days are over after the 35-year-old goaltender spent over 14 times attempting to rehabiliate a degenerative knee injury. The news comes after Bishop allowed eight goals on 34 shots during a game on Thursday while with the club’s AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint. He was recalled by the Stars yesterday and placed on long-term injury reserve. He will speak with the media on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a sad ending for a terrific, albeit injury-hampered career. The 6’7”, 210-pound Bishop was among the league’s elite goaltenders when healthy, winning 222 of 397 starts with a career goals-against average of 2.32, a .921 save percentage and 33 shutouts. “Big Ben” was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy in 2014 and 2016 with the Tampa Bay Lightning and in 2019 with the Stars. He was also a Second Team All-Star in 2016 and 2019.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are still awaiting word on the condition of captain Blake Wheeler after he left Friday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks with a possible knee injury. Jets coach Paul Maurice suspects Wheeler could be sidelined for a while.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Canucks, they placed defenseman Travis Hamonic (lower body) on injured reserve on Friday.

TSN: Chris Johnston reported the International Olympic Committee confirmed any confirmed positive COVID-19 test at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics must produce two subsequent negative tests 24 hours apart. Otherwise, the quarantine period could last from three to five weeks according to Chinese law.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would be troublesome for NHL players participating in the Games if they should contract COVID while in China. Johnston indicated there will be a call between the IOC, the International Ice Hockey Federation, NHL and the NHL Players Association medical personnel soon to review these matters.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he’d leave it up to the players to decide before the Jan. 10 opt-out deadline if they’ll still participate. The possibility of spending up to five weeks in China under quarantine could give participants a reason to reconsider taking part in the Games.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2021

The Avalanche score seven goals for the third straight game, the Flyers long winless skid is over, plus the latest on the Olympics, the Coyotes, the salary cap and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche scored seven goals for the third straight game on route to beating the Detroit Red Wings 7-3. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Devon Toews had three assists as the Avs won their sixth straight home game. Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated today. The Avalanche are the first team to tally at least seven goals in three straight games since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Colorado Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Penguins, they doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby collected two assists to extend his points streak to seven games while Tristan Jarry made 29 saves. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin also had two assists while teammates Tom Wilson and Martin Fehervary left the game with injuries.

The Philadelphia Flyers snapped a 10-game winless skid by holding off the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. Carter Hart kicked out 41 shots and James van Riemsdyk tallied what proved to be the game-winning goal. Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted two goals. It’s the Flyers’ first win under interim coach Mike Yeo.

Elias Pettersson scored in a shootout as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 to pick up their third straight win in as many games under new coach Bruce Boudreau. Nils Hoglander potted two goals and Thatcher Demko got the win with a 34-save effort. Jets’ captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists but left the game in the third period with a possible knee injury. Kyle Connor also had a goal and two assists for the Jets.

Patric Hornqvist and Sam Bennett scored 10 seconds apart in the first period as the Florida Panthers downed the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Phil Kessel replied for the Coyotes, who’ve lost four straight games. The win vaulted the Panthers into first place in the overall standings with 40 points.

Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi had a goal and an assist to lead his club over the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Juuse Saros turned aside 29 shots in his return to action after missing two games with a non-COVID-related illness. The Predators have won four straight.

A 36-save performance by Alexandar Georgiev carried the New York Rangers over the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Mika Zibanejad and Alexis Lafreniere scored for the Rangers as they’ve won eight of their last nine contests. The Sabres have dropped six straight.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly met with reporters yesterday following the second and final day of the board of governors meetings.

Regarding NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics, Bettman indicated he’s concerned about a host of issues, including COVID-19 testing and potential quarantine in Beijing if a player tests positive. Nevertheless, he said it’s going to be the players’ decision to go unless the league and the NHL Players Association jointly agree to the contrary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reports suggest a positive test could lead to a player facing a three-week quarantine in China, raising questions as to when the player can leave the country. Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner is the only player thus far to withdraw from participation, citing mental health concerns.

The NHL is projecting hockey-related revenue will rise to $5.2 billion for this season. The salary cap will rise by $1 million to $82.5 million for 2022-23 and to $83.5 million in 2023-24 based upon last year’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) that extended the collective bargaining agreement. That will allow the players to repay the $1 billion in escrow debt owed to the owners by the end of 2023-24, meaning a significant jump in the salary cap for 2024-25.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: How big a jump will depend on how much HRR rises by ’24-’25. It could reach $6 billion which could see the cap rise by $7 million, sparking a frenzy of lucrative long-term contracts for free agents in the summer of 2024.

Bettman also said there were no concerns about the Arizona Coyotes despite the recent threat of eviction from the Gila River Arena over unpaid bills and taxes. The club released a statement claiming they’ve paid those bills, blaming “human error” for the delay. The Coyotes still reportedly owe an additional $2.7 million in rent and other expenses to the city of Glendale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Human error” is the business equivalent of “The dog ate my homework” or “The cheque’s in the mail.” While this raises legitimate questions over the stability of the Coyotes’ ownership, the club won’t be relocating. Put simply, the Coyotes won’t remain in Arizona until Bettman decides it’s no longer feasible.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli wondered if Bettman got a contract extension after telling reporters he planned on being in his job for a long time. “So you’re still stuck with me,” he said with a smile.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman’s helped the owners make a boatload of money over the years while bringing the NHLPA to heel. Like it or not, he’ll be the commissioner for as long as he wants.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Evander Kane is expected to make his debut today with the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. The Sharks assigned the 30-year-old winger to the Barracudas following the recent completion of his 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are believed to be still trying to find a trade partner to take Kane off their hands. There’s no indication when he might be recalled to their lineup.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop gave up eight goals on 34 shots in his first game with the club’s AHL affiliate on Thursday. It was also his first game since undergoing knee surgery in October 2020. He’s with the Texas Stars on a conditioning stint as he inches his way toward a possible return with Dallas.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek is set to play tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. It’ll be his first game since suffering a groin injury in October.

TSN: New Jersey Devils coach Lindy Ruff said he’s worried and concerned over the long-term health of goalie Jonathan Bernier due to a hip injury. Bernier was placed on injured reserve after dealing with the ailment throughout this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like it could be a career-threatening injury for Bernier. There’s no word if he’ll undergo surgery.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt underwent successful surgery for an upper-body injury. There is no timetable for his return.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets placed defenseman Adam Boqvist (upper body) on injured reserve.

THE PROVINCE: The front office purge of the Vancouver Canucks continued Friday as assistant general manager Chris Gear and senior director of hockey operations and analytics Jonathan Wall were dismissed.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 7, 2021

The Canucks get their first win following their coaching change, the Flyers lose again despite their shakeup behind the bench, plus the stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks picked up their first win under new head coach Bruce Boudreau by blanking the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. Thatcher Demko made 31 saves for the shutout, Brock Boeser tallied his first goal in 14 games and J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist. The Canucks hired Boudreau on Sunday after firing Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Happy Canucks fans serenaded Boudreau with “Bruce, there it is!” to the tune of “Whoomp, There It Is.”

The Philadelphia Flyers replaced bench boss Alain Vigneault with Mike Yeo yesterday morning but they still fell 7-5 to the Colorado Avalanche to extend their winless skid to nine games (0-7-2). Avs rookie goalie Justus Annunen made 27 saves for his first NHL win, Mikko Rantanen and Erik Johnson each had two points and Cale Makar went end-to-end to score his 11th goal of the season. Claude Giroux scored twice for the Flyers.

Jake Guentzel extended his points streak to 13 games (two goals, one assist) as the Pittsburgh Penguins trounced the Seattle Kraken 6-1. Jeff Carter also scored twice and Danton Heinen had a goal and two assists. Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer got the hook after giving up three goals on four shots in the first period.

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn scored twice and set up another to lead his club over the Arizona Coyotes 4-1. The Stars tied a franchise record with their seventh straight victory while the Coyotes dropped their third straight. Coyotes winger Loui Eriksson played his 1,000th career NHL game.

John Carlson netted the winner in overtime as the Washington Capitals nipped the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 to move into first place in the overall standings with 38 points. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected two assists while Ducks forwards Trevor Zegras and Sonny Milano each had two points. The Capitals played without Garnet Hathaway as he joined Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the COVID protocol list.

The Ottawa Senators picked up their third straight victory by downing the New Jersey Devils 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Josh Norris netted the winner in a shootout while Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson each had a goal and an assist.

HEADLINES

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 5.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Neal Pionk was suspended for two games for kneeing Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin. Meanwhile, Leafs center Jason Spezza has an in-person hearing today via Zoom for attempting to knee Pionk in retaliation for the latter’s hit on Sandin. Spezza’s teammate Wayne Simmonds was fined $2,250.00 for crosschecking Jets forward Jansen Harkins.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop begins a conditioning assignment with the club’s AHL affiliate Texas on Thursday. It will be his first game since the 2020 playoffs. He missed all of last season recovering from knee surgery in October 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This brings Bishop one step closer to rejoining the Stars lineup. They’re already carrying three goalies in Braden Holtby, Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger. They could end up sending the waiver-exempt Oettinger to the minors and trade Holtby or Khudobin to make room for Bishop in their crease and their salary-cap payroll.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price isn’t expected to return to the lineup before Christmas. Defenseman Joel Edmundson suffered another setback in his recovery from a back injury but won’t require surgery. The already injury-depleted Habs got more bad news as Tyler Toffoli is expected to miss some time with an upper-body injury while Jeff Petry (upper body) and Joel Armia (undisclosed) aren’t expected to play in tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price has been skating on his own for a couple of weeks but he’s yet to begin workouts with full equipment. Don’t expect to see him until sometime in 2022.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruin Tuukka Rask served as an emergency backup for the club in yesterday’s practice with goalie Linus Ullmark among several players sidelined by a non-COVID illness. An unrestricted free agent, Rask continues to work out at the Bruins’ practice facility as he works toward returning to NHL action in January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was also an opportunity for the Bruins to get an early look at Rask’s conditioning and performance. It’s expected they will sign him once he’s cleared for game action next month.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Robert Thomas has been sidelined by a lower-body injury that could keep him out of tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers.