NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

Lightning edge Islanders to take 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final, Bruce Cassidy wins the Jack Adams Award, GM of the Year finalists announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Islanders winger Matt Martin opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it before the period was over.

This was a close-checking, physical contest. Lightning winger Alex Killorn was ejected early in the first period for boarding Isles center Brock Nelson, who left the game under concussion protocol but returned to action. Martin and Luke Schenn received fighting majors early in the second period. Martin and Pat Maroon received roughing minors later in the period.

It was a costly victory for the Lightning as first-line center Brayden Point left the game in the second period with an apparent lower-body injury. Head coach Jon Cooper said an update on Point’s condition could be revealed on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Islanders. They rebounded well from their 8-2 blowout loss in Game 1 and did a good job for the most part shutting down the Lightning’s offense until Kucherov struck in the dying seconds. They outshot the Bolts 13-4 in the first period and 28-21 overall.

However, the Isles couldn’t get more than one puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and failed to capitalize on four power-play opportunities. They now find themselves in a deep hole against a very talented club approaching Game 3 on Friday night.

Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins is the 2020 winner of the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year. He guided the Bruins to this season’s best record as they were the only club to reach 100 points, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for their efforts.

Julien BriseBois of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still targeting an 82-games schedule for 2020-21. However, he admitted the projected start date of Dec. 1 appears less likely. They’re also hoping to have fans in the stands when they reopen but can’t guarantee that’ll be the case. Daly also doesn’t think it would be a problem if the league staged games next summer, pointing to how well ice conditions held up in the bubble cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a miracle, next season won’t open on Dec.1. Or Jan. 1. And I have my doubts it’ll start on Feb. 1. My guess is we’ll see a shortened schedule between 50-60 games starting in mid-February at the earliest, with the playoffs running into late-July.

THE SCORE: NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire is no longer in the running for the Arizona Coyotes’ vacant general manager position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several folks on Twitter yesterday observed McGuire almost always seems to be in the running for a GM job and always seems to be the first one eliminated from the competition.

Meanwhile, Arizona Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan reports former Coyotes captain Shane Doan isn’t under consideration for the job. He cites several sources suggesting the club believes Doan, who works for the NHL, had a hand in the sanctions the league handed the Coyotes for violating fitness testing rules for draft-eligible players. However, there’s no indication Doan was involved in the league’s decision.

THE ATHLETIC: Dan Hinote is expected to join the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.










2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

The Calder Trophy and Adams Award finalists revealed, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Shea Weber, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar are the finalists for the 2019-20 Calder Memorial Trophy honoring this season’s rookie-of-the-year.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik was a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks this season, become the leading goal-scorer (30) among this season’s rookie class, but he will be overshadowed by Hughes and Makar. During the first half of this season, Makar seemed a lock for the Calder, but Hughes steadily came on throughout the season. The Canucks blueliner leads this season’s rookies in assists (45), points (53), and power-play points (25) while sitting second in ice time, averaging 21:53 per game.

Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, and Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault are this season’s finalists for the Jack Adams Award honoring the league’s top head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s Bruins were the NHL’s top team during the regular season. Tortorella’s efforts helped his injury-ravaged Blue Jackets remain a playoff contender. Vigneault guided the Flyers to their first best performance (second in the Metropolitan Division) since 2010-11. Tortorella is a two-time winner (2003-04, 2016-17) of the Adams Award while Vigneault took home the award in 2006-07.

NHL TRAINING CAMP NOTES

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine admits he’s not quite up to speed following his lengthy layoff. “Still kind of far away,” he told reporters yesterday. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine won’t be the only NHL player trying to shake off the rust and return to game shape following a four-month layoff. He said he’s trying to make the most of it and hopes to be game-ready when the puck drops.

TRIBLIVE.COM: There are mixed reports regarding Matt Murray’s performance in the opening three days of Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp. Mark Madden cites sources claiming  Tristan Jarry is outplaying Murray, but Seth Rorabaugh (who’s covering the Penguins’ training camp) said he’d seen no difference in play between the two. Rorabaugh observed Murray is more often between the pipes when facing some of the Penguins’ top players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s restricted free agent status at season’s end ensures he’ll be closely watched in practice and the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s been the subject of frequent trade speculation this season. His performance will determine his future with the Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak joined his teammates for his first practice since completing his mandatory quarantine period after returning from the Czech Republic.

CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his training camp debut before the weekend. He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed issue.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returned to full practice Wednesday. He’d spent Tuesday doing drills on his own.  

CANES COUNTRY: Sami Vatanen is healthy and looking forward to making an impact with the Carolina Hurricanes in the upcoming playoff tournament. The Hurricanes acquired the 29-year-old defenseman near the trade deadline, but an injury prevented him from suiting up with his new team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Dougie Hamilton recovered from a broken leg, he and Vatanen will provide a much-needed boost to the Hurricanes’ defense corps, especially if Brett Pesce (shoulder surgery) remains unable to participate.

NBC SPORTS: The pause in the schedule proved to be a silver lining for a banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets lineup, allowing sidelined players such as Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Cam Atkinson an opportunity to recover.

CALGARY SUN: Flames bench boss Geoff Ward denies he’s split up some of his roster over fitness-related issues. Johnny Gaudreau’s removal from the Flames’ top line raised eyebrows this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s clampdown on the players’ medical status only stokes speculation over the motivation behind such moves.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs were told to stop using on-ice officials during their practices following complaints from rival clubs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks officially signed defenseman Ian Mitchell to a three-year, entry-level contract beginning next season. He would’ve had the first year of his ELC burned off if he’d joined his teammates for Phase 3 training camp.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Former Carolina Hurricanes TV announcer John Forslund will be freelancing for NBC Sports during the upcoming playoff tournament. His status with the Hurricanes remains uncertain since his contract expired last month.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2019

Updates on Connor McDavid and Mikko Rantanen, the latest contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland said team captain Connor McDavid may not see any playing time during the pre-season schedule. The 22-year-old center continues to rehab a knee injury suffered during the club’s final game last season.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche will open training camp today without Mikko Rantanen. The 21-year-old forward remains in Finland awaiting a new contract with the Avs. Rantanen said he wasn’t panicking, adding he was prepared for this possibility.

As the Colorado Avalanche open training camp, winger Mikko Rantanen remains in Finland awaiting a new contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As training camps open, several notable young restricted free agents like Rantanen remain unsigned. It’ll be interesting to see how long negotiations drag on and the effect upon their respective clubs’ training camp plans.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins yesterday announced head coach Bruce Cassidy signed a three-year contract extension worth $3 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. The Bruins made significant strides under Cassidy’ coaching, reaching the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed winger Kevin Fiala to a two-year, $6-million contract with an annual average value of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a promising 23-goal, 48-point performance in 2017-18 with the Nashville Predators, Fiala’s production tumbled to 39 points split between the Predators and Wild. The 23-year-old must regain his ’17-’18 form if he hopes to ink a more lucrative deal in two years.

CALGARY SUN: After buying out Michael Stone’s contract last month, the Flames signed the 29-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $700K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL CBA continues to reveal interesting surprises. For years, it was assumed a team had to wait a full year from the date of the buyout to bring back a bought-out player. Cap Friendly reveals that’s not the case. Apparently, that one-year wait period only applied to players receiving compliance buyouts in 2013 and 2014.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed winger Brendan Lemieux to a one-year deal worth just over $874K. The Rangers also signed defenseman Joe Morrow to a professional tryout offer.

SPORTSNET: Former Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will work as a consultant with the St. Louis Blues.

TSN: Former Vancouver Canucks player Chris Higgins has joined the club as assistant director of player development. Dan Cloutier, meanwhile, resigned as goaltender coach after eight seasons.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2019

The latest on Elias Pettersson, T.J. Oshie, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson said he’s worked on improving his conditioning and the strength and power in his legs this summer. The 2019 Calder Trophy winner admitted he found games tougher late last season and hopes to avoid hitting that wall again in his sophomore campaign.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson is looking forward to his sophomore NHL campaign (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson dazzled through most of 2018-19 but his production notably declined down the stretch. With improved strength and conditioning, the 20-year-old center should exceed last season’s 28-goal, 66-point performance. 

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Canucks, they officially announced yesterday the three-year contract extension for general manager Jim Benning.

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie said he’s recovered from the broken collarbone that ended his 2018-19 campaign. He’s put more emphasis on building up the muscles in his shoulder and upper body.

THE ATHLETIC: The Boston Bruins have opened contract extension talks with head coach Bruce Cassidy. Over the past three seasons, he’s sported a record of 117-52-22.

The Bruins reached the playoffs in each of those seasons and reached the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Cassidy was a finalist last season for the Jack Adams Award.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM:  The Carolina Hurricanes unveiled their new road jerseys for 2019-20.

 

EAGLETRIBUNE.COM: Former hockey writer Russ Conway died at age 70 of coronary disease. In 1992, Conway was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his stories that exposed corruption at the highest levels of professional hockey.

His work led to the downfall and imprisonment of former NHL Players Association director Alan Eagleson. In 1999, Conway was “awarded the prestigious Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for journalists in the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Conway’s family, friends and colleagues. His book about Eagleson’s activities, Game Misconduct, stoked my interest in the often contentious labor relations between the league and the NHLPA.

During the 2004-05 lockout, I briefly corresponded with Conway. I appreciated his advice, as well as his willingness to help an aspiring hockey writer. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2019

The Blues take a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Stars re-sign two players, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues are one victory away from their first-ever Stanley Cup following a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the Final. Ryan O’Reilly scored the game-opener and set up David Perron for the winner while Jordan Binnington kicked out 38 shots.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington backstopped his club to victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final (Photo via NHL Images)

The winning goal was controversial as an obvious trip on Bruins winger Noel Acciari by Blues center Tyler Bozak went uncalled before David Perron’s tally. Bruins president Cam Neely and coach Bruce Cassidy were furious with the officials. Following the game, Cassidy said the non-call was “egregious”, calling it a “black eye” for the league.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara suited up for this contest despite a broken jaw suffered in Game 4. He played over 16 minutes, blocked three shots and led all Bruins defensemen with four hits.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That missed trip by Bozak on Acciari was just the latest embarrassment for the league in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. If the Blues go on to win this series, Bruins fans could point to that missed penalty as the reason. The officiating has been terrible, so much so that league commissioner Gary Bettman recently promised some changes in the off-season. 

That call overshadowed Binnington’s outstanding performance. The Blues were dominated through most of Game 5, especially in the first period. Binnington, however, made the difference.

O’Reilly also deserves his share of plaudits for his efforts in this contest. While Binnington will be considered the Blues’ front-runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy, O’Reilly also deserves consideration. He’s been impressive throughout this postseason. 

SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars re-signed defenseman Roman Polak and winger Mattias Janmark to one-year contracts yesterday. Polak, 33, will earn $1.75 million for 2019-20. The 26-year-old Janmark will make $2.3 million.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators officially hired Jack Capuano yesterday as an associate coach.  His role will be improving the club’s young defense.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets inked forwards Seth Griffth and JC Lipton to one-year, two-way deals worth $700K at the NHL level.

NEW YORK POST: Overhauling their AHL affiliate will be the priority of the Rangers under new team president John Davidson.