NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 25, 2020

Uncertainty over the status of Coyotes GM John Chayka, plus updates on Sidney Crosby, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Torey Krug, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

IS CHAYKA OUT AS COYOTES GM?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there’s a growing sense John Chayka and the Arizona Coyotes are headed for a divorce. The Coyotes general manager was not present during a meeting last week between several key members of the club’s ownership group and pending free agent winger Taylor Hall. It has yet to be determined if Chayka will be traveling with the club to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. One source claims his office has been cleaned out.

Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting bit of intrigue as the Coyotes prepare for the upcoming qualifying round. Chayka has yet to speak with the media about this situation. We’ll likely learn more about his fate in the coming days. 

Friedman wondered if this might be tied to accusations the Coyotes violated draft-eligible workout rules earlier this year, but he added the NHL denied that was the case. He also mused over whether assistant GM Steve Sullivan might become Chayka’s replacement.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun pointed out Chayka has three years remaining on his contract following the tournament, but Coyotes insider Craig Morgan indicates the extension runs through 2023-24. He also noted the two sides seem headed for a split. 

NOTABLE TRAINING CAMP NEWS

TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidney Crosby got a round of applause from teammates as the Pittsburgh Penguins captain returned to full practice for the first time in nearly a week. League protocols prevented the club from elaborating on Crosby’s absence, but a team source explained he’d been withheld from practice as a precautionary measure as he dealt with a minor ailment.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Defenseman Brent Seabrook won’t be joining his teammates in Edmonton for the Blackhawks’ upcoming qualifying-round series against the Oilers. He attempted to return from two hip surgeries and a shoulder surgery earlier this season but felt he wasn’t fully up to speed. Seabrook intends to spend more time building up his strength for next season’s training camp in the fall.

Goaltender Corey Crawford, however, could be traveling with the team to Edmonton. While he missed the Blackhawks’ entire training camp, he’s reportedly on their roster list. It’s unclear if he’ll be in the lineup for Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t blame Seabrook for attempting to return to the lineup. As for Crawford, his addition speaks to the Blackhawks’ lack of skilled depth between the pipes. I doubt he’ll be that effective after missing their training camp following a four-month layoff. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Defenseman Torey Krug admitted the upcoming playoff tournament could be his final Stanley Cup run with the Boston Bruins. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and the flat salary cap for next season could make it difficult for the Bruins to re-sign him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins handle this. Cap Friendly indicates they have over $63.5 million invested in 18 players, with Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, and Anders Bjork among their noteworthy free agents. It could prove a tight squeeze fitting them within their cap constraints.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Defenseman Aaron Ekblad missed his second consecutive Panthers’ practice yesterday. Coach Joel Quenneville couldn’t elaborate as per league protocols but indicated Ekblad had been at their training facility in recent days. He expects the blueliner will be ready for the upcoming playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Ekblad’s dealing with an issue that is not related to COVID-19. Probably a minor injury.

NEW YORK POST: Young Rangers winger K’Andre Miller won’t be joining his teammate for the playoff tournament despite a solid training camp. He’s ineligible because his entry-level contract doesn’t begin until next season. Meanwhile, the Rangers loaned center Lias Andersson to Swedish Hockey League team HV-71 for 2020-21.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens defenseman Brett Kulak admitted he’d tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month after self-isolating from his teammates when he first experienced symptoms. He’s fully recovered and rejoined the club in practice this week.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers will honor former teammate Colby Cave before their final scrimmage today by wearing his No. 12 on their jerseys. Cave passed away unexpectedly in April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A nice tribute by the Oilers to Cave and his family. The club will auction off the jerseys at a later date with the proceeds going toward the Colby Cave Memorial fund.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SEATTLE TIMES: National sales of Seattle Kraken merchandise is already 50 percent higher than what the Vegas Golden Knights sold in their first 24 hours of making their merchandise available in 2017. The Kraken unveiled their nickname, logo, and jerseys on Thursday.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2020

A synopsis of Phase 2 of the Return-To-Play Plan, NHLPA director Donald Fehr is proud of the players speaking out against racial injustice, a breakdown of the Stars’ goaltending tandem, & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ed Graney provides a synopsis of Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan which begins today. Among the key points:

Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return-To-Play Plan begins today.

A maximum of six players on the ice at one time,

Players who live in a city that they don’t play for can use local NHL facilities,

Any player traveling to his team facility from abroad by other than private jet must self-quarantine for 14 days. Carpooling is also discouraged,

Goaltenders can hire an individual coach for one-on-one training but he cannot be a team employee,

Social distancing protocols (handwashing, use of sanitizer, no sharing of towels or flip-flops, showering elsewhere, no shared use of food or water) must be maintained at the facility,

Colored badges will designate a player’s access and that for non-players.

Coronavirus testing will occur 48 hours before accessing the facility and twice weekly. Players and staff will also complete symptom and temperature checks before departure. A positive COVID-19 test will be treated as a hockey-related injury.

Players skating at a team facility are prohibited from skating at a separate public rink,

Coaches cannot participate in on-ice activity but can observe from the stands.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox considers Phase 2 as the NHL’s cautious, careful road toward resuming play at some point this summer. He believes this slow start-up allows the league to observe and learn from the experiences of other sports that have already returned to action.

This phase brings optimism for those hopeful of completing the season and crowning a Stanley Cup champion. Others believe there’s a long way to go before that can take place.

Cox also reported the Maple Leafs have about 20 players in the area, including several still under a two-week quarantine after crossing the border.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There is a sense of cautious optimism that the league might be able to pull this off. The next big test begins next month when the teams converge for training camps.

SPORTSNET: NHL Players’ Association director Donald Fehr said he’s “really proud” of the more than 100 players who’ve spoken out against racial injustice.

They understand it’s an important moment. They understand what the issues are, at least in the grand scope. And they’re making their voice heard. Not everybody, but quite a lot.

And that’s to their credit.”

TSN: NHL analyst and former goaltender Kevin Weekes said he won’t mention the Greater Toronto Hockey League on television again until the amateur league discloses statistics about how often players are penalized for making racial slurs.

I’m not mentioning the GTHL on the air if I can help it until there is reform,” he told TSN. “I’m on TV almost 200 days a year, on four different shows on the league network. I like to give credit both to players and to the organizations that help develop them. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltending coach Jeff Reese recently broke down what makes Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin potentially the best tandem in the league by examining five key saves by each netminder this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Bishop and Khudobin, the Stars finished the regular season with the league’s second-best goals-against per game (2.52). They played a significant role in the Stars qualifying for the post-season tournament and will be crucial to the club’s Stanley Cup aspirations.

THE SCORE: Colby Cave’s AHL teammate Cooper Marody will release a song as a memorial tribute. The 25-year-old Edmonton Oilers forward died in April from a brain bleed following emergency surgery to remove a colloid cyst.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2020

The latest on plans to resume or cancel the 2019-20 season, an update on the Senators, plus the latest on Mitch Marner and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL has yet to set a firm deadline to announce the resumption or cancellation of the 2019-20 season. If the schedule is to resume, the league will need at least two weeks for players returning from Europe to be quarantined, followed by two-three weeks of training camp, potentially some exhibition games followed by some regular-season contests before starting the playoffs. One league governor suggested they should have an idea by late-May, while another though mid-June would be the earliest.

Still no deadline on when to resume or cancel the 2019-20 NHL season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer the restrictions on crowd sizes, the slimmer the chances of finishing the regular season or staging the playoffs. Again, I don’t fault the league and the NHL Players Association for examining every option, but I’m not optimistic this season can be completed.

THE SCORE: The NHL yesterday extended the self-quarantine period for its players to April 30. It’s the third time the period has been extended.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t be surprised if there’s another extension to May 15.

SPORTSNET: U.S. President Donald Trump will hold a conference call with the major-league sports commissioners today, including NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. They’re part of a committee of 200 business leaders advising the president on when to re-open the American economy.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said his club has made three proposals to Bettman on possible scenarios for resuming the draft lottery, the regular season, and the playoffs. The Senators hold three picks in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft, including what could be the second- and third-overall selections. Overall, the Senators hold 13 picks in this year’s draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Sens have three first-round picks, four in the second round, two in the third round, one in each of the fourth and fifth rounds, two in the sixth, and none in the seventh.

TSN: Dorion also said the five Senators players and the one staff member who contracted COVID-19 have recovered.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner is using his charitable organization to solicit for donors to organizations providing food, shelter and aid to front-line services.

NBC SPORTS: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise raised $1 million to assist those affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

WGR 550: The owners of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits are issuing furloughs and layoffs. Executive pay is also being temporarily reduced.

TSN: Colby Cave’s family and the Edmonton Oilers have set up a memorial fund to support mental health initiatives and programs providing access to sports for underprivileged children. The fund will be headed by Cave’s wife, Emily. Cave passed away last week at age 25 following emergency surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

NHLPA: Kris Versteeg announced his retirement as a professional player, which include 11 NHL seasons. He spent five seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2015.

Versteeg also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, and Calgary Flames. In 643 career NHL games, he scored 149 goals, 209 assists, and 358 points. He also had 18 goals and 48 points in 93 playoff contests.

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2020

More on the league’s plans to possibly resume this season, plus the latest on Drew Doughty, Brandon Carlo, Dale Hawerchuk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman told CNN the league continues to explore all options to resume the 2019-20 season while awaiting word for clearance from authorities. “When we’ll have an opportunity to return depends on things that we have absolutely no control over, because it all starts with everybody’s health and well-being,” said Bettman. “And until there’s a sense that people can get together, not just to fill our arenas but even our players to get together to work out, we don’t know when we can come back.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

Bettman also said the league and the NHL Players Association discussed the length of time it would take for the players to prepare for the resumption of the season. While the players are training at home, Bettman said it would take between two-to-three weeks to get back into playing shape.

THE SCORE: cites TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting the NHL is willing to delay the start of 2020-21 to November to conclude this season. It would cancel the All-Star Game and the accompanying bye weeks, and extend the post-season into late June. The league also prefers playing some regular-season contests before the playoffs and would condense the postseason if necessary.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is skeptical about finishing this season. “We have no idea when this virus is going to be over,” he said. “We’re just sitting here waiting, working out, getting ready to hopefully return at any point. I would think the NHL or whoever has to make a decision will make some type of decision on that soon. It seems like it’s going to be pretty tough to return, to resume the season or the playoffs.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo is among those hopeful the league can resume in some fashion and complete this season. “It’s been great to hear that we’re going to work as hard we can to establish as many games as we can for this season and still try to make the ultimate goal of awarding a Stanley Cup happen,” said Carlo, the Bruins NHLPA player rep. “I’m trying to do everything I can to stay in shape because I am optimistic about the season returning.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like most of you, I doubt this NHL season is salvageable. Nevertheless, I don’t fault the league and the PA exploring every option to return to action. While the pandemic will likely stretch through the summer and into the fall, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared in case the coronavirus runs its course faster than projected or a vaccine is discovered and distributed quicker than anticipated. 

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Pierre McGuire predicts the salary cap could decline by 25 percent to 40 percent. A 25 percent drop would put next season’s cap at $61 million, while 40 percent would lower it to $49 million. McGuire believes the NHL and NHLPA will have to come up with some creative ideas to address this potential problem. On a positive note, he said he’s never seen better cooperation between the two sides in his 31-year hockey career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s already been reported several times by different sources that the league and PA won’t let the cap drop for next season. There’s talk of setting an artificial number at $81.5 million. It’ll be interesting to see how they address this situation.

SPORTSNET: Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk completed his final round of chemotherapy for stomach cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes for a full recovery.

CTV NEWS SASKATOON: A highway memorial involving hundreds of cars lined the highway to Battleford, Saskatchewan to show support for the family of the late Colby Cave, who passed away last week. Cave was originally from North Battleford.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks players and families pledged 200 meals a day for the staff at UCI Medical Center.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2020

The hockey world mourns the passing of Colby Cave, plus the latest on Dylan Larkin, Kevan Miller and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave passed away at age 25, four days following surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

Colby Cave. 1994-2020. (Photo via NHL Images)

His passing sparked an outpouring of support and condolences throughout the hockey world. The Oilers and Cave’s former club, the Boston Bruins, offered their commiserations, as did the NHL, the AHL. and his junior club, the Swift Current Broncos. Wayne GretzkyErik Karlsson, and Torey Krug were among those who took to Twitter offering sympathy and support to Cave’s family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was heartbreaking news. My sincere condolences to Cave’s family, friends, and family. By all accounts, he was an upstanding young man with a strong work ethic. It’s so sad when a young life is ended before it has truly begun.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning’s chances to atone for the dissatisfying end to their otherwise dominant 2018-19 campaign could be slipping away if this season is canceled because of the coronavirus.

Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said it would be a huge disappointment. “For what our team has done this year, and how we’ve set ourselves up, the additions that we’ve made, where we were at that point in the season with just a handful of games left and trying to gear up for a long playoff run and a successful playoff run, you just hope and you pray that there’s some scenario out there where we can somehow finish.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s easy to say they’ll get another shot next season, but the Lightning might not be the same club by then. Limited salary-cap space means they’ll have to shed a player or two (Alex Killorn, perhaps?) in order to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Unrestricted free agents like Patrick Maroon and Kevin Shattenkirk probably won’t be back. Those moves could adversely affect their overall chemistry and depth.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings center Dylan Larkin and his family donated 50,000 vinyl powder-free and nitrile gloves to the Detroit Medical Center and St Joseph Mercy Medical Group.

BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller encountered some setbacks during his rehab of his twice-broken kneecap. An unrestricted free agent at the end of his season, his future with the Bruins is in doubt.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward Nikolay Goldobin has signed a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. He explained the Canucks didn’t want to re-sign him but hopes to return to the NHL in two-years time.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2020

Update on the NHL’s plans to resume the season if possible, plus the latest on Colby Cave, Dougie Hamilton and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently acknowledged the possibility of the league having to scrap the rest of the regular-season schedule, Pierre LeBrun reports the priority remains to hold regular-season contests before the playoffs. “Whether that’s 82 (games) – probably not – 78, 76, 74, all possibilities mentioned on that call,” said LeBrun.

Darren Dreger reported a flash poll of NHL general managers found 20 GMs supported a best-of-five series from the opening round through the Conference Finals, but they’d still want a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most NHL fans and pundits (including myself) believe this season is likely over in its entirety. I daresay those at NHL headquarters and the brain trust at the NHL Players Association understands this could happen.

But as I’ve frequently pointed out, as long as there’s a chance to salvage part of this season to recoup some of their lost revenue and crown a Stanley Cup champion, the league and the PA – with the full blessing of the team owners and the players – will consider every option.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Carolina Hurricanes GM Don Waddell said his club is looking into staging home games that would include a limited number of fans should the regular-season resume later this year. Waddell indicated it’s part of several options the club is exploring, including returning with no fans in the building.

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes probably aren’t the only NHL club considering such choices.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders what the NHL will do about this season’s conditional trades if the season prematurely ends and those conditions can’t be met.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plenty of speculation and suggestions from some in the media, but the league insists it’s too early to address that issue. Nevertheless, I expect that will become a larger issue if it becomes apparent the rest of the season could be canceled.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Santa Clara County executive officer Dr. Jeffrey Smith recently told the county’s Board of Supervisors he didn’t expect sports to resume until at least the American Thanksgiving weekend in November. That would mean no games for the San Jose Sharks and the NFL’s San Francisco ’49ers, among others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If that turns out to be the case, kiss the 2019-20 NHL season goodbye.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave remains in a medically induced coma following surgery on Tuesday to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Cave pulls through and makes a complete recovery.

Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton would be ready to play if the NHL seasons resumes later this year. Hamilton suffered a broken left leg in January.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki said he expects to be able to play his club’s remaining regular-season games if the schedule should resume. He was sidelined by an ankle injury when the league went on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Rather than return to the Oilers, forward Anton Slepyshev re-signed a two-year deal with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Journal’s Jim Matheson speculated the Oilers were offering up a one-year deal. Looks like Shepyshev wants the security of a multi-year deal. He also probably received more money to stay in Moscow than he would’ve got from the Oilers.

NBC SPORTS: After adopting the ’80s hit “Gloria” as a theme song last season, the St. Louis Blues players have opted this year for the Eddie Murphy tune “Party All The Time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can bet that’s what they’ll do if they repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks captain Pat Stapleton suffered a stroke on Wednesday and passed away at the age of 79. “Whitey”, as he was nicknamed, spent eight seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks from 1965-66 to 1972-73, and was a member of Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. He also spent five seasons in the WHA. In 10 NHL seasons, Stapleton tallied 43 goals and 337 points in 635 games.

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