NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 7, 2022

The Leafs, Red Wings and Panthers emerge the winners in Sunday’s game, the Bruins release Mitchell Miller two days after signing him, and the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk and the Canadiens’ Josh Anderson get suspended. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares’ 399th career goal was a game-winner in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Erik Kallgren made 29 saves for his first career NHL victory while Calle Jarnkrok and William Nylander also scored for the Leafs (7-4-2). Stefan Noesen replied for the 8-3-1 Hurricanes.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs have won three straight in early November after stumbling through October with a 4-4-2 record. Earlier in the day, they announced goaltender Ilya Samsonov was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury and could be sidelined for at least a week.

The Detroit Red Wings nipped the New York Rangers 3-2 on an overtime goal by Dominik Kubalik. Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 27 shots for the win as the Wings improved to 7-3-2 while the Rangers fell to 6-4-3. Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko scored for the Blueshirts.

Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour had a goal and three assists to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 5-3. Sam Reinhart scored two goals and Spencer Knight made 32 saves as the Panthers improved to 7-5-1. John Gibson kicked out 43 shots for the Ducks as they fell to 4-8-1.

HEADLINES

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Two days after the Bruins signed Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract, team president Cam Neely yesterday released a statement announcing they were parting ways with the 20-year-old defenseman effective immediately.

The Bruins came under heavy scrutiny for signing Miller, who had pleaded guilty in juvenile court six years ago for racially and physically abusing and bullying a Black classmate with developmental disabilities.

In his statement, Neely indicated the Bruins’ decision to sign Miller was based on “careful consideration” of the facts as they were aware of them. The club believed the incident was an isolated one and that Miller had taken “meaningful action to reform and was committed to ongoing development.” However, Neely claimed the decision to terminate the contract was based “on new information.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ front office faced a firestorm of criticism for signing Miller. It came not just from around the league but also from their fans, from local media, and from Bruins veterans like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Nick Foligno. Even league commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his displeasure when asked about the signing on Saturday.

Neely and the rest of the Bruins front office could’ve spared themselves all of this had they properly vetted Miller’s past in the first place. This was not an “isolated incident” as Miller engaged in physical and verbal abuse of his victim for several years A detailed report about his actions by the Arizona Republic prompted the Arizona Coyotes to relinquish his rights just weeks after selecting him in the fourth round of the 2020 NHL draft. He offered no attempt at contrition until about a week before signing with the Bruins.

The fallout from this could leave a stain on the Bruins’ organization for some time.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk for two games for high-sticking Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on Saturday. Tkachuk jabbed the blade of his stick into the cage on Quick’s mask. The Kings goalie was not injured.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson received a two-game suspension for boarding Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo on Saturday. Pietrangelo was bleeding from the nose following the hit but stayed in the game.

DAILY FACEOFF: Detroit Red Wings forward Filip Zadina is listed as month-to-month after suffering a leg injury blocking a shot against the New York Islanders on Saturday.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild placed Jordan Greenway and Ryan Hartman on injured reserve with upper-body injuries. They recalled forwards Adam Beckman and Joseph Cramarossa from their AHL affiliate in Iowa.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

GOPHNX.COM: Dylan Guenther will be staying with the Arizona Coyotes this season. The 2021 first-round pick earned his place with two goals and six points in nine games.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks’ rebuilding process is being felt at the gate this season. They’re averaging 14, 788 fans at the United Center thus far. That’s the lowest it’s been since 2007-08.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche broadcaster and former NHL forward Peter McNab has died of cancer at age 70.

Considered “The Father of Colorado Hockey”, McNab was a standout player at Denver University and went on to play 14 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils from 1973-74 to 1986-87, scoring 363 goals and 813 points in 955 career games. He had been calling Avalanche games since their first season in 1995-96 and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to McNab’s family, friends, former teammates and broadcast partners.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 30, 2022

The Hurricanes and Rangers prepare for Game 7 in their second-round series, Jason Spezza retires, plus the latest on the Avalanche, Oilers, Lightning and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Rangers have the heart and fortitude to pick up their first road win in their second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. He also believes the club’s identity stems from goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who has garnered a growing edge over the Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta as this series progresses.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin sees no point in dwelling on his club’s loss in Game 6 when they have a good opportunity in front of them in Game 7. “Looking back at the Boston series, no one really talks about the fact we lost three on the road. You talks about the fact we won the series,” said Slavin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes haven’t won on the road in this postseason but they’ve also never lost on home ice. If that trend continues, they’ll defeat the Rangers tonight and advance to meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza has announced his retirement (NHL Images).

On the other hand, the Rangers’ have ridden Shesterkin’s solid goaltending and a never-say-die attitude to push the favored Hurricanes to a seventh and deciding game in this series. They could pull off the upset if Shesterkin continues to shine and Raanta struggles as he did in Game 6.

TORONTO SUN: Jason Spezza announced his retirement on Sunday after 19 seasons as an NHL player to become a special assistant to Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Duba. Spezza spent the past three seasons with the Leafs. He began his career with the Ottawa Senators in 2002-03, spending 11 seasons with them before moving on to the Dallas Stars for five seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Spezza in his new role. His best seasons were with the Senators, helping them become one of the dominant clubs in the league between 2002-03 to 2007-08, culminating in reaching the 2007 Stanley Cup Final.

Spezza holds the Senators’ single-season record with 71 assists (2005-06) and tallied 87-plus points in three seasons between 2005-06 and 2007-08. He is second all-time among Senators scorers with 251 goals, 436 assists and 687 points.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Leon Draisaitl was a dominant force in the Edmonton Oilers’ second-round victory over the Calgary Flames. He set an NHL record for most assists in a playoff series with 15 and accomplished this while playing with a suspected ankle injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl’s accomplishments have been overshadowed by the scoring of Connor McDavid and Evander Kane. With the focus on those two, he’s been able to thrive with his playmaking skills.

THE DENVER POST: Bo Byram has established himself as the Colorado Avalanche’s No. 3 defenseman in this postseason, filling in for the sidelined Samuel Girard after he suffered a season-ending sternum injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a difficult season for Byram as he’s had to battle back from concussion symptoms that limited him to just 30 games during the regular season. Finally healthy, he’s showing the skills that enticed the Avalanche to select him fourth overall in the 2019 draft.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Still awaiting the winner of the Hurricanes-Rangers series, the Lightning are simulating games in practice in anticipation of the start of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long layoff gives the Lightning’s banged-up players an opportunity to heal and return to action. However, the downside of that layoff is the risk of getting stale from a lack of serious game action. We’ll find out on Wednesday how much of an effect it’ll have on the Lightning’s performance.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Top NHL prospect Shane Wright will meet with the Canadiens at this week’s NHL Draft Combine in Buffalo. After that, he’ll be flown to New Jersey to meet with the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens hold the first-overall selection in the 2022 NHL Draft and are expected to select Wright. However, the Devils must be prepared in case the Habs choose someone else.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Former New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz interviewed with the Red Wings regarding their vacant bench boss position. He’s also met with the Winnipeg Jets, Philadelphia Flyers and Vegas Golden Knights. Trotz has reportedly told those interested clubs he won’t make his decision until he’s sure it’s the right one for himself and his family.

SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit recently underwent hip surgery. The club is hopeful he’ll be available for the start of next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

Auston Matthews ties a Leafs’ records, the Flames widen their lead in the Pacific Division, the three stars of the week are revealed, an update on Mike Bossy and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick as the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Matthews now has a league-leading 54 goals, tying Rick Vaive’s single-season franchise record. Mitch Marner collected three points and Jack Campbell got the win with a 32-save performance. Leafs forward William Nylander missed the game with a non-COVID-related illness. The Leafs sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 95 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this pace, Matthews will not only set a new franchise goal record but will become the first player to reach the 60-goal plateau since the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos hit that mark in 2011-12.

Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and picked up an assist to give the Calgary Flames a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. With 91 points, the Flames hold a five-point lead over the Kings for first place in the Pacific Division. Adrian Kempe netted both of the Kings’ goals.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk scored twice (including the winner in overtime) to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. With the win, the Bruins have won seven of their last eight games. They are tied with the Lightning with 93 points but the Bruins move into third place in the Atlantic Division with 44 regulation wins.

A four-goal second period carried the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice while teammate Pavel Buchnevich collected three points for the Blues (88 points), who sit three points behind the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, and New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov are the three stars for the weekend ending April 3, 2022.

CBC SPORTS: The family of former New York Islanders superstar Mike Bossy said he is resting peacefully at home while continuing his battle with lung cancer. This comes following unconfirmed reports claiming the 65-year-old Hall-of-Famer had entered palliative care.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bossy in his battle with this insidious disease.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took part in a full practice with his teammates on Monday for the first time this season. Price, 34, has been rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. There remains no timeline for his return to game action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price reportedly looked good during yesterday’s practice, which suggests he might return for a handful of games before the end of the Canadiens’ season on April 29.

TSN: Kyle Connor and Nate Schmidt emerged from COVID protocol yesterday and rejoined their Winnipeg Jets teammates after missing the last three games.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin is expected to return to action tonight against the Florida Panthers. He’s been sidelined by a concussion since Feb. 21.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker is still being evaluated since suffering an undisclosed injury last Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. A more complete update on his condition is expected today.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks could decide to shut down winger Kevin Labanc for the remainder of the season to allow more time for his recovery from shoulder surgery.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram has rejoined his teammates after being sidelined for nearly three months with concussion issues. He’s been practicing with his teammates for weeks and was recalled from an AHL conditioning stint.

GOPHNX.COM: The Tempe City Council will discuss the Arizona Coyotes proposed arena and entertainment district in an executive session on Thursday. The proposal is reportedly tightly contested and could come down to one or two swing votes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ future in Arizona could be determined by the outcome of this vote.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 9, 2022

Check out the latest on Shea Weber, Jakob Chychrun, Tomas Hertl, Claude Giroux, Semyon Varlamov and P.K. Subban plus updates on the Ducks and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON WEBER, CHYCHRUN, HERTL AND HAGEL

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports several capologists responded to his recent musting about whether it would make sense for the Minnesota Wild to acquire Shea Weber’s contract from the Montreal Canadiens. The capologists don’t believe the Wild would do it as it would prevent them from accruing cap space, robbing them of flexibility. They also pointed out that a team cannot acquire a player on long-term injury reserve without activating him first, something few teams (like the Wild) can afford to do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Weber’s LTIR contract would only be suitable for low-spending teams looking for a creative way to reach the salary-cap floor, not for those bumping against the cap ceiling seeking a way to exceed it.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports eight teams are “seriously” pursuing Jakob Chychrun. Based on the Arizona Coyotes’ high asking price for the 23-year-old defenseman, it could come down to the March 21 trade deadline. The primary suitors include the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks.

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ asking price is reportedly a first-round draft pick, a top prospect and a good young NHL player. Bear in mind some of these clubs (Blues, Hurricanes, Panthers) have limited salary-cap space so they’ll have to send some salary back to the Coyotes or make a separate cost-cutting deal to make the dollars work.

Chychrun is also signed through 2024-25 so there’s no rush on the Coyotes’ part to move him at the trade deadline. They can wait until the offseason if they don’t get any suitable offers over the next couple of weeks.

Pierre LeBrun reports teams have been calling the San Jose Sharks about Tomas Hertl but they’re still trying to sign the 28-year-old pending unrestricted free agent. However, he speculates they could attempt to move him if there’s no progress in contract talks seven days from now. Teams have also called about penalty-killing defenseman Jake Middleton.

Dreger also reports there’s lots of interest in Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Hagel given his play and affordable contract. However, there’s no guarantee he’ll be moved as he could have a place in the Blackhawks rebuild. Dreger said the asking price could be a first-round pick and something else.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers put the likelihood of Hagel getting moved at the trade deadline at one percent.

LATEST ON THE DUCKS

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek is willing to test the trade market on pending unrestricted free agents such as Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Rickard Rakell and Nic Deslauriers. It doesn’t mean they’ll automatically be traded as there’s a little more wiggle room with Lindholm. Winger Max Comtois could also be available after struggling through this season.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli moved Lindholm to No. 2 on his trade targets list. The Florida Panthers are believed among several teams said to be interested in the 28-year-old Ducks defenseman.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Ducks have opened contract talks with Lindholm but not yet with Manson. Some believe management wants to see how negotiations go with Lindholm and if they fall through they could try to sign Manson before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much could also depend on where the Ducks are in the standings. They’re currently four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Verbeek could be more inclined to become a seller if they don’t gain ground before the trade deadline. Nevertheless, he’s indicated he doesn’t want to lose those guys to free agency for nothing, so he could move them regardless of where his club sits in the playoff race.

RUMOR TIDBITS FROM FRIEDMAN’S LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” COLUMN

SPORTSNET: Rumors suggesting sidelined Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram wanted a fresh start elsewhere have been denied.

There’s increased interest in New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who has a year remaining on his contract with a $5 million cap hit and a no-trade clause that covers half the league. Friedman doesn’t see the Edmonton Oilers as a destination.

Don’t count out the St. Louis Blues as a suitor for the Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux, who’s been linked to the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues are bumping against the $81.5 million salary-cap ceiling. They’ll have to get creative to take on the remainder of Giroux’s $8.275 million cap hit.

No evidence the Winnipeg Jets have pivoted and tried to re-sign Andrew Copp. The Boston Bruins and the Avalanche are believed among the interested parties.

It will be tough for the New Jersey Devils to move P.K. Subban’s $9 million cap hit. However, his actual cash to him is $2 million. With most of that already paid out, Friedman wondered if it would make sense for the Devils to terminate his contract and let him sign elsewhere for similar money. He said he hasn’t run that idea by the league yet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would be interesting to learn the league’s response. I daresay it would be considered salary cap circumvention rather than Subban violating the terms of his deal, which is the reason behind the San Jose Sharks terminating Evander Kane’s contract earlier this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2022

A five-point night for Joe Pavelski, a new investigation could halt Evander Kane’s efforts to land a new contract, Tuukka Rask set to return today, the mid-season scouting rankings are released, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Joe Pavelski had a had in every one of the Dallas Stars goals in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken, handing the latter their seventh straight loss. Pavelski scored twice and set up three others while teammate Roope Hintz had a goal and two assists. With 38 points, the Stars sit three back of the San Jose Sharks for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand tallied a hat trick in a 5-1 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens. Marchand has tallied eight goals in his last four games as the Bruins have won six of their last seven contests. Montreal goaltender Jake Allen left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The loss drops the Canadiens into last place in the overall standing while the Bruins (42 points) opened a five-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Arizona Coyotes moved into second-last in the overall standings by upsetting the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Ryan Dzingel snapped a 1-1 tie while Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 45 saves for the win. Leafs center Auston Matthews set a franchise record by scoring in nine consecutive road games.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL has opened an investigation into how Evander Kane crossed the border from the United States into Canada on Dec. 29. Kane had tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21 and was still under the AHL’s 10-day COVID protocol when he crossed the border. It was one of the factors that prompted the San Jose Sharks to place the 30-year-old winger on unconditional waivers and terminate his contract last Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman said this will likely prevent Kane from landing a new NHL contract as teams await the results of the league’s findings. Some teams are willing to ignore the winger’s apparent disregard for league rules (including a 21-game suspension for using a fake COVID passport last fall) and other well-documented issues because they feel they can get a productive player on an affordable, prorated one-year contract.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers captain Connor McDavid said he wouldn’t be opposed to Kane joining his club. The Oilers are believed among a handful of clubs in the running to sign the troublesome winner.

TSN: Tuukka Rask is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. The 34-year-old goaltender signed a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins earlier this week.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports recurring concussion symptoms are behind Bowen Byram’s departure from the Avalanche for personal reasons. His father said his son told him he can’t continue playing feeling the way he does. The 20-year-old defenseman has already suffered three concussions in his young NHL career. There’s no word when he’ll return to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Byram can find the treatment he needs to regain his health and hopefully return to the Avalanche. It would be a shame for his promising career to come to a premature end.

SPORTSNET: Dallas Stars winger Alexander Radulov and Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Turris are among the noteworthy players added to the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars recalled goaltender Anton Khudobin with Braden Holtby recently being added to COVID protocol.

ESPN.COM: The Buffalo Sabres signed minor-league goaltender Michael Hauser to a one-year, $750K contract and recalled Aaron Dell from the minors to shore up their injury-depleted goaltending. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Michael Subban were recently sidelined while Craig Anderson remains out indefinitely with an upper-body injury while Dustin Tokarski is still recovering from COVID-19.

TSN: The Canadiens yesterday claimed Rem Pitlick off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.

NHL.COM: Kingston Frontenacs center Shane Wright tops Central Scouting’s mid-term ranking of the top North American skaters. Winger Joakim Kemell of JYP in Liiga (Finland’s top professional league) is the leader among International skaters.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wright is expected to be the top prospect in the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal with the first round on July 7. The young center had a slow start to this season but his production has picked up with four multi-point games in his last five contests. TSN’s Craig Button has compared his style of play to that of Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron.

SPORTSNET: Two former NHL off-ice officials have filed a lawsuit against the league alleging they were fired for “pretextual reasons” after calling out two former supervisors for racist behavior.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2022

Big nights for Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov, rapper Kodak Black creates a stir at the Canucks-Panthers game, the Oilers confirm interest in free-agent Evander Kane, Tuukka Rask returns to the Bruins & much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin scored twice and collected an assist in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Malkin had been sidelined by offseason knee surgery. Jeff Carter also scored twice for the Penguins (47 points), who hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. With 45 points, the Ducks remain three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Nikita Kucherov carried the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-1 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each finished the night with three points as the Lightning (53 points) sit second in the Eastern Conference.

The Florida Panthers 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks was overshadowed by a viral video that appeared to show rapper Kodak Black having sex in a luxury box during the game. Panthers forward Sam Reinhart tallied two goals and collected an assist as the Panthers (53 points) hold first place in the overall standings with two games in hand over the Lightning. It was the Canucks first regulation loss under head coach Bruce Boudreau.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are reports claiming Black’s female companion was merely twerking against him. Regardless, this incident created a stir on Twitter last night.

Nashville Predators forward Matt Duchene scored twice, including the winner in overtime, in a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Nashville winger Luke Kunin also netted two goals. It was the fifth straight win for the Predators, who sit atop the Western Conference with 50 points. Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who were playing without blueliner Bowen Byram after he left the club for personal reasons. The Av didn’t release any further details about Byram.

William Nylander opened the scoring and tallied the winning goal in a shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3. The Golden Knights forced overtime and the shootout by overcoming a 3-1 deficit on third-period goals by William Karlsson and Alex Pietrangelo. Vegas sits second in the Western Conference with 48 points while the Leafs (49 points) sit third in the Atlantic Division.

An overtime goal by Logan Couture lifted the San Jose Sharks over the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Sharks defenseman Brent Burns collected three assists as his club has moved into the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 41 points. The Wings were without captain Dylan Larkin as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He could return to the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Chicago Blackhawks got a two-goal performance from Alex DeBrincat to double up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Patrick Kane collected an assist to extend his points streak to five games.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS: Player agent Dan Milstein, who represents Evander Kane, expects his client will sign a new contract with an NHL team by this weekend. The San Jose Sharks terminated its contract with the 30-year-old winger citing breach of contract on Sunday. The NHLPA has filed a grievance on Kane’s behalf.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers general manager Ken Holland confirmed he has an interest in Kane and has contacted Milstein. Holland acknowledged the winger’s well-documented personal baggage but said he has a responsibility as a general manager to investigate every situation.

I would want to get an understanding with what’s going on in that person’s life. I believe in second chances,” said Holland. He also gave head coach Dave Tippett a vote of confidence as the club attempts to reverse its skid in the standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holland’s interest in Kane has already drawn some criticism in the Edmonton media. However, there’s speculation the Oilers could have the former Shark under contract soon. Stay tuned…

Speaking of the Oilers, goaltender Alex Stalock is trying to make a comeback. He’s missed this season with a heart condition but has received medical clearance by his doctors to attempt to return to action. He will report to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: To no one’s surprise, the Bruins signed Tuukka Rask to a one-year, $1 million contract yesterday. The 34-year-old goaltender had been recovering from offseason hip surgery. The club demoted Jeremy Swayman to their AHL affiliate in Providence to make room for Rask’s new contract.

SPORTSNET: New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stutzle, St. Louis Blues forward David Perron and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore were among the notables to enter the NHL’s COVID protocol yesterday.

OTTAWA SUN: The ongoing loss of hockey-related revenue due to attendance restrictions on Canadian NHL teams is generating concern over its effect upon the league’s hockey-related revenue for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The salary will rise by $1 million next season to $82.5 million as per the CBA extension regardless of this season’s HRR. However, it will affect the players’ repayment of their debt owed to the NHL owners for maintaining the salary cap at its current level despite the decline of HRR over the past two seasons due to COVID-19. It could take longer than originally projected for the players to make the owners whole, which will affect salary cap projections beyond 2023-24.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom has been hired as the club’s new vice president of hockey operations.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins general manager Ron Hextall was taken to task by Philadelphia Flyers legend and senior advisor Bob Clarke. Appearing on the podcast Cam and Strick yesterday, Clarke claimed Hextall alienated everybody during his tenure as Flyers GM. He accused him of ignoring the Flyers’ scouts by choosing Nolan Patrick over Cale Makar in the 2017 draft and trading Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues. Hextall declined to comment about Clarke’s comments.

NHL.COM: The league yesterday announced the Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette, the Colorado Avalanche’s Jared Bednar, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Rod Brind’Amour and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Peter DeBoer have been named as the head coaches for the 2022 NHL All-Star weekend (Feb. 4-5) in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL appears determined to press on with the All-Star Game despite a plethora of postponed games requiring rescheduling due to the latest wave of COVID-19. The best players from every NHL team in one place for a meaningless game of glorified pond hockey in the middle of a pandemic. What could go wrong?

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Jon Merrill to a three-year, $3.6 million contract extension.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals re-assigned goaltender Zach Fucale to their AHL affiliate in Hershey now that Vitek Vanecek has recovered from a non-COVID illness.

THE ATHLETIC: Nate Prosser has announced his retirement. The 35-year-old defenseman played 360 NHL games with the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers from 2009-10 to 2020-21. He spent over nine seasons with the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Prosser in his future endeavors.