NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2023
The Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard and the Blue Jackets’Adam Fantilli shine in their rookie tournament performances, Panthers goalie Spencer Knight talks about enrolling in the player assistance program last season, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
DAILY FACEOFF: Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard and Columbus Blue Jackets center Adam Fantilli made impressive debuts with their clubs during the NHL rookie tournaments.
The first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bedard scored a hat trick in a 5-0 win over the Minnesota Wild at the Tom Kurvers Prospects Showcase on Saturday. Fantilli, chosen third overall in the draft, also netted a hat trick and collected two assists as the Blue Jackets rookies overcame a 4-1 deficit to down the Detroit Red Wings 10-7.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A splendid effort by Bedard and Fantilli suiting up for the first time with their respective NHL clubs. However, they’ll soon face stiffer competition in preseason play later this month.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Florida Panthers goaltender Spencer Knight talked to Ken Campbell about why he enrolled in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program in February. An ongoing case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) made it impossible for him to continue playing.
Knight revealed that his condition began during his freshman year at Boston College in 2019 with excessive hand washing. However, it worsened after giving up three goals in a December game against the Winnipeg Jets. He was plagued by thoughts of contracting diseases, reaching the point where he had trouble sleeping and couldn’t function.
The 22-year-old goaltender has been working directly with an OCD expert and talking to others who are dealing with the condition on a daily basis. As Knight rejoins his teammates for training camp, he’s focused on regaining his form and getting his NHL career back on track.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors were rampant that Knight was dealing with a drug or alcohol problem when he went into the player assistance program. This goes to show that we shouldn’t make assumptions about the reasons behind a player seeking help from the league and the PA.
It’s good to see that this program helps those with mental health issues get the treatment and support that they need. Best wishes to Knight as he goes forward with his life and his playing career.
THE ATHLETIC: Tony DeAngelo shouldered the blame for his disappointing one-season tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 27-year-old defenseman acknowledged the club started last season behind the eight-ball losing Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson sidelined by injuries. However, he said that his inconsistent performance was his own fault.
“So that was on me, that wasn’t on them,” said DeAngelo. “But it was something I’ll never trade in.” He felt that playing for the Flyers was a childhood dream come true. “It’s something I can’t say I regret.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers acquired DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes last summer. After efforts to trade him back to Carolina fell through, they bought out the final season of his contract. The Hurricanes subsequently signed him to a one-year, $1.675 million contract.
MAYOR’S MANOR: Promising defenseman Brandt Clarke will not be traveling with the Los Angeles Kings to Australia as the club begins training camp and plays a series of preseason games with the Arizona Coyotes.
Clarke, 20, suffered an injury that isn’t considered serious. However, he requires seven-to-10 days without on-ice contact. It was determined it would be best if he remained in Los Angeles and received treatment.
THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting that the Minnesota Wild could be working on something for free-agent center Jujhar Khaira. Russo speculates it could be a professional tryout offer or a contract.
ROTO BALLER: Josh Leivo has signed with KHL club Salavat Yulaev Ufa. The 30-year-old winger played 51 games last season with the St. Louis Blues. He’s totaled 265 games over 10 NHL seasons since 2013-14 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and the Blues, scoring a total of 42 goals and 93 points.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins confirmed and revealed their Centennial jerseys for this season.