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.


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.


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.


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.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 21, 2019

The latest on the Sharks, Blues, and Bruins, plus an update on Justin Williams, in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer offered no updates yesterday on the status of Erik Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl. The three were injured during the Sharks’ 5-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. 

Joe Pavelski is one of three players uncertain to play for the San Jose Sharks tonight in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

Karlsson appears to be nursing an old injury that he aggravated in Game 4 of the series. Pavelski left Game 5 after receiving a high hit from Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Hertl was also on the receiving end of a high hit from Blues forward Ivan Barbashev. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Down 3-2 in the series and facing elimination tonight, the Sharks’ odds of winning Game 6 become slimmer with three of their best players on the sidelines. 

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of Barbashev, he won’t face supplementary discipline for his hit on Hertl

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league was “unable to determine conclusively that the head was the main point of contact.”  Sure looked like his head was the primary point of contact to me. I stopped trying to make sense of rulings from the department of player safety a long time ago. 

WEEI.COM: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said he’s learned a lot from his early days as an NHL coach. Cassidy recently faced criticism from former NHL player Bates Battaglia, who played for Cassidy with the Washington Capitals in 2003-04. Since taking over as Bruins coach, Cassidy has a regular-season record of 117 wins, 52 losses, and 22 overtime defeats.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: People can change and improve and that’s certainly what Cassidy’s done since his first tenure as an NHL head coach. After being fired by the Capitals, Cassidy spent one season as an assistant coach with the Chicago Blackhawks (2005-06), two seasons with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, and eight seasons with the Bruins’ AHL affiliate in Providence. In his 2 1/2 years as the Bruins’ bench boss, he’s coached them to three straight playoff appearances and their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since 2013. 

THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes captain Justin Williams is undecided if he’ll return for a 19th NHL season. The 37-year-old winger led the Hurricanes to their first postseason appearance in a decade. If he does return, Williams made it clear it’ll be with the Hurricanes. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Williams scored 23 goals and 53 points during the regular season, along with seven points in 15 playoff games. If he’s willing to agree to a one-year, bonus-laden contract worth the same annual salary-cap hit as his current contract ($4.5 million), I think he’ll come back for another season. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2017

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban celebrates his goal against the St. Louis Blues in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.

Game recaps, latest coaching hires, Adams Award finalists revealed & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: P.K. Subban had a goal and two assists and Vernon Fiddler tallied the winner as the Nashville Predators edged the St. Louis Blues 4-3 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven second-round series.

It was a costly victory for the Preds, as winger Kevin Fiala was stretchered off the ice early in the second period and taken to hospital with an apparent leg injury after crashing into the end boards. An update on his status could come later today. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a gruesome-looking injury suffered by Fiala. I hope he’s okay but I think he’s gone for the remainder of the playoffs. 

Leon Draisaitl had a four-point game and Adam Larsson scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 of their second-round series. Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa was forced to leave the game in the third period with an apparent knee injury. 

Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Todd McLellan of the Edmonton Oilers and John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets are the finalists for the Jack Adams Award honoring the NHL coach of the year. 

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks officially hired Travis Green as their new head coach. 

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins have confirmed interim head coach Bruce Cassidy is now their full-time bench boss.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: In an interview with the Russian publication Sovietsky Sport, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov accused some of his teammates of getting their money and not working. He also questioned why the line changes were made “like a kaleidoscope.” His agent said Kucherov’s comments came out of frustration but added his client respects GM Steve Yzerman and head coach Jon Cooper. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well, at least Kucherov isn’t claiming he was misquoted or poorly translated. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars center Tyler Seguin underwent shoulder surgery Monday to repair a labral tear. He’s expected to be ready for training camp in September. 

LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL:  The Vegas Golden Knights preseason schedule has been finalized subject to league approval. “The Knights’ first game will be Sept. 17 in Vancouver against the Canucks. On Sept. 19, they’ll travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche, followed by a trip to San Jose on Sept. 21 to face the Sharks. The road portion of the preseason concludes Sept. 24 at Anaheim against the Ducks. 

The first of the three home games will be Sept. 26 against the Los Angeles Kings. The other home games are Sept. 28 against Colorado and Oct. 1 vs. San Jose.”

TSN: The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to screen the urine samples of all drug-tested players to check for recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. The move comes “because of concerns over a rise in players testing positive for cocaine”