St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).
Gretz acknowledged there were some concerns over Tarasenko’s health following three shoulder surgeries in two years. He also had two seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $7.5 million. However, Tarasenko has regained his high-scoring form with seven goals and 14 points in 14 games with the Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the general managers of those clubs could be kicking themselves over failing to pursue a Tarasenko trade this summer. Hindsight, as always, is 20/20. The concerns over Tarasenko’s shoulder were realistic while his contract (paying him a whopping $9.5 million in actual salary this season) was difficult for most of those clubs to absorb under a flattened salary cap.
Let’s not overlook the rumored high asking price of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. He wasn’t going to just give Tarasenko away. A first-round pick, a top prospect and an affordable young forward with top-six potential were reportedly part of the sought-after package. Armstrong was also said to be unwilling to absorb any portion of the winger’s annual cap hit.
Tarasenko could still end up getting traded if the Blues should tumble out of playoff contention later in the season. That appears unlikely at this point. Interested clubs will likely have to wait until next summer to take another crack at pursuing Tarasenko, provided the winger hasn’t changed his mind about getting traded by then.
SHOULD THE CANADIENS PURSUE GIRARD?
TVA SPORTS: Jean-Charles Lajoie suggested the Montreal Canadiens could use a defenseman to improve their blueline shortcomings this season. Philippe Boucher agreed, proposing they look at acquiring Samuel Girard from the Colorado Avalanche. Girard recently surfaced in trade rumors following a report in The Denver Post suggesting the Avs could shop the 23-year-old rearguard.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several factors sparked the Girard speculation. He struggled during the Avalanche’s second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights last spring. He had a slow start to this season while rookie Bowen Byram emerged as a top-four blueliner.
However, Byram’s recent concussion combined with an improved effort on Girard’s part highlighted the latter’s ongoing value to the Avalanche defense corps. That doesn’t mean he’s untradeable but it shows the Avs probably aren’t in any hurry to move him.
If Avalanche GM Joe Sakic dangles Girard in the trade market he’ll likely seek a top-six forward in return. Given the Canadiens’ offensive woes, there might not be a deal to be had there.
Carey Price reveals treatment for substance abuse while Ducks GM Bob Murray is placed on administrative leave for improper professional conduct. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price broke his silence yesterday regarding the reasons why he entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program last month. In a statement released on his Instagram account, Price said he sought treatment for substance abuse after years of neglecting his mental health. He admitted it could take some time before he returns to action. The 34-year-old goaltender also expressed appreciation for the support and well wishes he’s received.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price didn’t owe the public an explanation for seeking help but it was brave of him to do so. He’s dealt with an unimaginable burden of pressure as a superstar in one of hockey’s most demanding markets. Success and millions of dollars does not make a person immune from struggling with mental health issues. Best wishes to Price and his family in his ongoing recovery.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Anaheim Ducks placed general manager Bob Murray on administrative leave following the initial findings of an internal investigation into allegations of “improper professional conduct”.
Frank Seravalli reported sources claimed Murray allegedly created a toxic workplace atmosphere through repeated verbal abuse and harassment of Ducks players, coaches and personnel. His intimidation tactics and temper tantrums fostered a climate of fear throughout the organization.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli indicated the Ducks GM was with his team in Vancouver yesterday when the news was delivered. He was ordered to leave the team immediately and return to Anaheim on his own. Murray’s fate could be decided once the team receives additional findings from the investigation.
This news comes less the two weeks following the release of the report into allegations by Kyle Beach that he was sexually assaulted by former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Bradley Alrich in 2010. That report cost Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman his job over his handling of the allegations.
TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins have settled a lawsuit filed by a former minor-league assistant and his wife. Jarrod and Erin Skalde accused the team of negligently retaining a coach who sexually assaulted and harassed Erin and threatened retaliation against Jarrod for reporting the incident.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hey, NHL teams, here’s a thought: stop hiring and protecting abusive scumbags and sexual predators.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils overcame a 3-2 deficit to thump the Florida Panthers 7-3, handing the latter their second straight regulation defeat after going 10-0-1. Mackenzie Blackwood made 35 saves, Ty Smith had a goal and two assists and Andreas Johnsson scored twice.
Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov tallied two goals and Alex Nedeljkovic kicked out 31 shots in a 4-2 upset of the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi replied for the Oilers after the Wings opened a 3-0 lead. Moritz Seider put the game away with an empty-net goal. Detroit extends its record to 7-5-2.
A 37-save effort by Adin Hill carried the San Jose Sharks over the Calgary Flames 4-1. Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl and Jonathan Dahlen netted three unanswered third-period goals for the Sharks, who now sit 7-4-1 on the season.
The Los Angeles Kings extended their winning streak to six games by nipping the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on an overtime goal by Adrian Kempe. Cal Petersen made 33 saves for the win as the Kings’ record sits at 7-5-1. Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin missed his third straight game as he still feels lingering effects from a recent head injury.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 41 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Winger Troy Terry netted the game-winner to extend his points streak to 12 games as the Ducks (7-4-2) have won five straight games. Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes each had two assists in a losing cause.
The Carolina Hurricanes (10-1-0) downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on an OT goal by Martin Necas. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos opened the scoring but Teuvo Teravainen tied in the third period. Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves. Before the game, the Hurricanes placed winger Nino Niederreiter (lower body) on injured reserve.
A shootout goal by Ryan O’Reilly gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington made 39 stops while teammates Pavel Buchnevich and Jordan Kyrou each had a goal and an assist. The Blues’ record sits at 8-2-1.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith scored twice in a 46-second span in the third period as his club doubled up the Seattle Kraken by a score of 4-2. Vegas defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore each had a goal and an assist. The Kraken (4-8-1) have dropped four of their last five contests.
Patrice Bergeron tallied the game-winner late in the third period as the Boston Bruins beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy picked up his 200th career NHL victory. The Senators (3-8-1) have lost five straight games. Bruins forward Trent Frederic left the game after being hit in the second period by Senators defenseman Josh Brown. Earlier in the day, Senators defenseman Victor Mete became the sixth member of the team placed on COVID protocol.
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Marc-Andre Fleury made 42 saves while shootout goals by Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat completed the comeback. The Blackhawks (3-9-2) have won two straight games under interim head coach Derek Kings. Jeff Carter scored two goals for the Penguins. Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks placed winger Mackenzie Entwistle (ankle injury) on IR. He’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS: Tuukka Rask returned to the Boston Bruins practice facility in full goalie gear working out with the club’s goaltending coach Bob Essensa. The 34-year-old Rask underwent hip surgery three months ago and remains an unrestricted free agent. Whether he returns with the Bruins or signs with another NHL club remains to be seen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask has already indicated he’s open to returning to the Bruins on an inexpensive one-year deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back in the lineup at some point in the New Year.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon missed practice yesterday with a lower-body injury.
CBS SPORTS: The Nashville Predators placed Filip Forsberg (upper body) on injured reserve.
Patrice Bergeron and Brock Nelson each have four-goal performances, the aftermath of the Jack Eichel trade and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron had a natural hat trick (all on the power play) on his way to a four-goal performance as the Boston Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. Brad Marchand collected four assists for the Bruins (5-3-0). Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin missed this game for personal reasons as his club’s record fell to 4-5-2.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron, 36, became the second-oldest player behind Johnny Bucyk to score four goals in a game. Bucyk was 38 when he had his final four-goal game back in 1974.
New York Islanders center Brock Nelson also tallied four goals as his club whipped the Montreal Canadiens 6-2. Anthony Beauvillier had three assists and Zach Parise had two for the Isles (4-2-2) while the hapless Habs fall to 3-9-0. Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin (day-to-day) missed the game with a head injury.
Jordan Eberle tallied the first hat trick in Seattle Kraken history in a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Jaden Schwartz had a goal and two assists for the Kraken (4-6-1) while the Sabres 5-4-1 dropped their third straight game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken aren’t going to enjoy an inaugural season like the Vegas Golden Knights did but they’re off to a respectable start. They’re certainly not an easy two points.
The Florida Panthers extended their points streak to 10 games by nipping the Washington 5-4 on an overtime goal by Eetu Luostarinen. Aleksander Barkov scored twice for the Panthers (9-0-1), who blew 2-0 and 4-1 leads as the Capitals (5-1-4) battled back to force the extra frame. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin had three points, including his 740th career goal to put him one behind Brett Hull for fourth on the all-time goal-scoring list.
John Tavares’ game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for William Nylander’s overtime winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs (6-4-1) rallied to down the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Pat Maroon scored for the Lightning (5-3-2). The Leafs have won four straight. Tavares took exception to an illegal hit to the head by Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev on Mitch Marner, immediately coming to his teammate’s defense. Sergachev received a two-minute penalty.
The Vegas Golden Knights improved their record to 5-5-0 by dropping the Ottawa Senators 5-1. Robin Lehner made 38 saves for the win and Jonathan Marchessault scored two goals. Brady Tkachuk replied for the Senators as their record slips to 3-6-1.
An overtime goal by Kris Letang lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins (4-3-2) over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak. Tristan Jarry picked up the win with a 36-save effort. The Penguins played without head coach Mike Sullivan as he entered the COVID protocol. Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton scored for the Flyers (5-2-2).
Jamie Benn scored in overtime as the Dallas Stars (4-4-2) broke a four-game skid to snuff out the Calgary Flames 4-3. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen picked up three assists. The Flames (6-1-3) extended their points streak to nine games.
The St. Louis Blues extended their record to 7-1-1 with a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Brandon Saad scored two goals for the Blues while Joel Hofer had a 23-save performance to win his NHL debut. The Sharks slip to 6-4-0.
SPORTSNET: In an interview with Elliotte Friedman, Jack Eichel thanked Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams for trading him to a team where he can under disc replacement surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck, as well as providing him an opportunity to continue his playing career elsewhere. The Sabres traded the 25-year-old center on Thursday to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Eichel admitted he initially requested a trade following the 2019-20 season after the Sabres failed to qualify for the playoff bubble. He felt the club was heading toward another rebuild but he didn’t want to be a part of that. The 25-year-old center expressed regret over the club’s inability to improve during his tenure. “I really wish that we had won more for the fans because I felt they really deserved it,” he said.
Eichel also spoke about the impasse with the Sabres over his preferred choice of treatment for his injury. The club preferred a spinal fusion over disc replacement because the latter had never been done on an NHL player before. He understood the Sabres’ rights within the CBA giving them the final say but felt it was his body and thus his decision. He hopes to undergo the surgery next week.
Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon expects Eichel will be sidelined three-to-five months recovering from the disc replacement.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans have criticized Eichel for not doing more to make the Sabres a better club during his tenure but I think that’s an unfair assessment. He led all Sabres with 355 points in 375 games during his tenure, averaging 0.95 points per game.
The fault lies with the Sabres front office. Three general managers failed to surround Eichel with a strong supporting cast while four different head coaches led to constantly changing systems that hurt some players’ development.
TSN: The New York Islanders traded the rights to defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Sabres in exchange for future considerations. The move enables the Sabres to remain above the $60.2 million salary-cap minimum after trading Eichel yesterday. Boychuk is on permanent LTIR due to a career-ending eye injury and carries an cap hit of $6 million for this season.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes claimed goaltender Scott Wedgewood off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.
TSN: The executive board of the NHL Players Association voted to approve an independent investigation into the union’s handling of sexual assault allegations by Kyle Beach in 2010 against former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich. Beach said he informed the PA of the details of the allegations and blamed Donald Fehr, the union’s executive director, for turning his back on him.
NHL.COM: Marian Gaborik officially announced his retirement from the NHL after 17 seasons. He scored the first goal in Minnesota Wild history and went on to tally 407 goals and 815 points in 1,035 career games with the Wild, New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and Ottawa Senators. He also netted 58 points in 84 career playoff games. He helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2014.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Gaborik throughout his career and ultimately brought his playing days to a close. When healthy, he was a talented scorer, tallying 30-plus goals seven times, including three seasons with 40-or-more goals. Best wishes to Gaborik and his family in their future endeavors.
SPORTSNET: On Friday, Rory Boylen reported Vladimir Tarasenko still wants a trade despite a hot start to this season by himself and the club. He cited The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford telling Jeff Marek that the 29-year-old winger’s desire remains the same, though he understands it could take time for a deal to take place.
St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).
“He realizes this may not happen soon,” Rutherford told Marek. “It may not happen this year, it could happen next offseason, or maybe (Blues general manager) Doug Armstrong never finds the right deal for Vladimir Tarasenko and he plays out the last two years of his contract.”
Boylen observes that the contract is a sticking point. Tarasenko carries an annual average value of $7.5 million, which would be difficult to move right now. There’s also concern over Tarasenko’s recent shoulder surgeries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were teams linked to Tarasenko during the offseason that could be monitoring his performance this season. Whether they’ll revisit their rumored interest remains to be seen.
The better Tarasenko plays the more his value in the trade market rises. However, Armstrong won’t trade him if the Blues are in playoff contention this season unless he gets an offer too good to refuse. He’ll entertain offers if his club is out of the postseason chase by the March 21 trade deadline.
Tarasenko’s contract remains a significant issue. His annual cap hit is $7.5 million but he’s earning $9.5 million this season in actual salary. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tarasenko traded next summer when his actual salary for 2022-23 drops to $5.5 million.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: Steve Macfarlane cast doubt on recent speculation linking the Flames to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel. He points out the club’s addition last season of head coach Darryl Sutter indicates rebuilding is not their plan. That suggests they’re not about to give up players in a trade that would significantly hurt their chances of competing this season while they await Eichel’s recovery from disc replacement surgery.
Macfarlane also points to the Flames’ salary-cap constraints plus the Sabres’ high asking price as other key stumbling blocks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Flames GM Brad Treliving looked into acquiring Eichel. Perhaps he still has a serious interest in the Sabres center.
As Macfarlane noted, however, they’re not going to gut the team if they still hope to be a playoff contender this season. They’re off to a good start thus far (6-1-1) which takes the pressure off Treliving to shake things up. Making the cap dollars fit would also be difficult.
Recent rumors have the Golden Knights and Sabres trying to work out a deal. I don’t think the Flames are in the running here.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch recently reported Senators GM Pierre Dorion is still looking around for help at forward. He has assets with 11 picks in next year’s draft if he wants to do something. Last Sunday, Dorion acquired center Dylan Gambrell from the San Jose Sharks.
Recaps of Saturday’s action, commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with Kyle Beach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: A shootout goal by Charlie Coyle gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, snapping the latter’s season-opening eight-game win streak. Coyle also opened the scoring. Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy tied the game with a third-period power-play goal and teammate Taylor Hall collected his 600th career point. Anthony Duclair and Aleksander Barkov tallied for the Panthers, who played without Sam Bennett as he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).
The Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 as captain Gabriel Landeskog led the way with two goals and two assists. Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson and JT Compher each had two points. The Wild have dropped three of their last four contests. Following the game, MacKinnon called on the league to take action against the Wild’s Brandon Duhaime for a dangerous hit on Avs defenseman Bowen Byram.
Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 20 saves to pick up his third shutout in his last four starts to blank the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0. Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Rasmus Andersson each collected two points. The Flames extend their record to 6-1-1.
Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Leafs goalie Petr Mrazek made 27 saves after missing six games with a groin injury. Jake Muzzin and Alexander Kerfoot each had a goal and an assist for the Leafs. Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno also each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings.
Connor McDavid collected an assist to extend his season-opening points streak to seven games as the Edmonton Oilers held off the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected his league-leading 10th assist. Warren Foegele and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers while the Canucks’ Brock Boeser netted his club’s only goal.
The New Jersey Devils spoiled the season debut of Sidney Crosby by doubling up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. Jesper Bratt snapped a 2-2 tie with a penalty shot late in the third period and teammate Andreas Johnsson netted two goals. Crosby returned to the lineup following offseason wrist surgery.
Timo Meier scored in overtime as the depleted San Jose Sharks nipped the Winnipeg Jets 2-1. Seven Sharks players (including Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) and head coach Bob Boughner missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
Shootout goals by Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi lifted the Nashville Predators over the New York Islanders 3-2. Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 34 saves while Tanner Jeannot tallied twice.
The Los Angeles Kings snapped a six-game winless skid with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Alex Iafallo scored twice and collected an assist. The hapless Habs are now 2-7-0 on the season. Following the game, they held a 20-minute players-only meeting followed by a visit by general manager Marc Bergevin.
Torey Krug scored the only goal as the St. Louis Blues nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0. Jordan Binnington kicked out 25 shots for the shutout while Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves. The Blackhawks are off to a franchise-worst 0-7-2 start.
TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke with Kyle Beach yesterday about how the league can better protect its players after Beach came forward last week saying he was sexually assaulted by the Chicago Blackhawks former video coach in 2010. Bettman offered his sincere regrets to Beach and offered the league’s help with psychological services for him and his family.
NHLPA director Donald Fehr also met with Beach yesterday in a separate conference call. They covered the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program, which didn’t follow up when Beach reported what happened. The NHLPA executive board is meeting on Monday to discuss what happened to Beach.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets will soon face a decision with Cole Sillinger. The promising young forward has already played seven games, leaving the Jackets two more games to decide if they’ll keep him for the remainder of the season or return him to junior. Doing the latter means the first season of his entry-level contract will be deferred to next season.
TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights claimed Michael Amadio off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
THE TENNESSEAN: Long-time Nashville Predators broadcaster Terry Crisp announced he will retire after this season. The former NHL player and coach spent 16 seasons as an in-game analyst before moving to pregame and postgame shows.
T.J. Oshie and Drake Batherson get dueling hat tricks in high-scoring Capitals-Senators game, the Panthers, Hurricanes and Blues remain undefeated, the Sabres upset the Lightning and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-5 in a wild game that saw Washington’s T.J. Oshie and Ottawa’s Drake Batherson each tally a hat trick. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move within four goals of Brett Hull (741) for fourth place among the all-time goal leaders. With seven goals, he takes over the goal-scoring lead from Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. The Capitals led 4-1 at one point but the Senators stormed back to tie it in the second period to make it interesting before the Caps regained the lead.
Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (NHL Images).
Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour had two-point performances and Joe Thornton scored his first goal of the season as the Florida Panthers beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. The Panthers take over first place in the overall standings with a 6-0-0 record. Coyotes goalie Carter Hutton and defenseman Conor Timmins both left the game with lower-body injuries.
Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders Frederik Andersen made 24 saves against his former team to backstop his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Andrei Svechnikov and Jaccob Slavin each had two points for the Hurricanes, who remain unbeaten at 5-0-0. Auston Matthews tallied his first of the season (the 200th goal of his career) for the slumping Leafs, whose record drops to 2-4-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of unhappiness in Leafs Nation as their club’s early-season woes are drawing comparison to their similar difficulties two years ago. That led to a November coaching change as Sheldon Keefe replace Mike Babcock. Could Keefe face a similar fate if the Leafs fail to reverse their fortunes? Stay tuned…
Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals and Ville Husso turned in a 34-save shutout as the St. Louis Blues blanked the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. The Blues extended their record to 5-0-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues, Hurricanes and Panthers join the Edmonton Oilers as the only clubs to remain unbeaten through their first five games of the season. It’s the first time in league history four teams begin the season with records of at least 5-0-0.
The Buffalo Sabres stunned the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-1. Craig Anderson made 35 saves for the win while Victor Olofsson scored twice for the Sabres, who maintain their surprising hot start with a 4-1-1 record. The Lightning are still without winger Nikita Kucherov, who could be sidelined for another eight weeks by a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning definitely miss Kucherov’s offense but other factors are also behind their stumbling start. Their forward depth was depleted by this summer’s departures of Tyler Johnston, Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow. A shortened offseason also gave them less time than most clubs to rest and prepare for this season.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 31 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. On his way to pre-game warmups, Merzlikins was heckled by a Stars fan making a negative comment about the death of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks, who was killed in a fireworks accident in July. “I was expecting a shutout because I believe in karma,” said Merzlikins. “There is some stupid people in this world. That was really, really bad what happened in the tunnel when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who (provoked) me about Matiss.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are some disgusting people in this world whose lives are so pathetic that their only source of joy is trying to incite sadness or anger in other people. Good on Merlikins for not letting that douchebag’s remarks knock him off his game.
A 28-save shutout by Jacob Markstrom and two goals from Andrew Mangiapane carried to the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. Blake Coleman and Mikael Backlund each had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who’ve now won three straight games.
NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 24, 2021.
YARDBARKER: The Vegas Golden Knights have moved Max Pacioretty (fractured foot) from injured reserve to long-term IR.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move provides the Golden Knights some flexibility to call up a player or acquire one via trade. However, they must become cap compliant when Pacioretty returns to the lineup.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed defenseman Kris Letang tested positive for COVID-19 and remains in COVID protocol.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after being checked awkwardly into the board by the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos on Saturday.
NBC SPORTS: The New Jersey Devils confirmed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine last week. He’ll have to continue following league protocols for unvaccinated players until two weeks after his second dose.
TSN: New York Islanders goaltender Cory Schneider hit the waiver wire yesterday. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks placed forward Alexander Volkov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.
THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Colin Wilson opens up about his addiction to drugs, including cocaine and prescription drugs. He cited the recent death of Jimmy Hayes motivating him to come clean about his addiction.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a difficult but invaluable story that everyone should read. Wilson’s tale will hopefully motivate other players with addictions to seek help and perhaps provoke more positive change with the NHL toward addressing this issue.