NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

The Lightning eliminate the Bruins, the Avalanche stay alive against the Stars, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the fourth time in six years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Eastern Conference Final. Victor Hedman scored in double overtime as the Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 to win their second-round series four games to one.

Tampa Bay LIghtning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images)

Hedman had a goal and an assist while teammates Brayden Point and Kevin Shattenkirk each had two assists. Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli scored in regulation for the Bolts, who played without winger Nikita Kucherov as he left the game before the third period after being high-sticked by Zdeno Chara in the first period. David Pastrnak and David Krejci scored for the Bruins.



SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning did a good job keeping Boston’s top line under wraps as this series went on. The Bruins’ lack of secondary scoring and the absence of starting goalie Tuukka Rask were contributing factors to their early demise.

After reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season and winning the Presidents’ Trophy this season, questions are being asked if the Bruins’ championship window is closing. Asked about his future plans, the 43-year-old Chara said he hadn’t reached a decision, intending to be open-minded.

No word yet as to how long Kucherov might be sidelined. Bolts blueliner Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup since being sidelined in the first game of this series.

The Colorado Avalanche avoided elimination by riding a five-goal first period to a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their second-round series. Avs third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson made 31 saves in his first-ever playoff start while the Stars’ Ben Bishop was pulled after giving up four goals on 19 shots. Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal and collected an assist, giving him a playoff-leading 23 points. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and added an assist. The Stars still lead the series 3 games to 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop was shaky in his first start since Aug. 13 but he had little help from his teammates. The Stars were flat-footed and unprepared in the first period, outshot 23-5 in the first period.

SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers hired Jacques Martin as their new assistant coach.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jeremy Rutherford cites sources claiming St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Bill Armstrong is believed to be a finalist for the vacant Florida Panthers GM position.

TSN: Thirteen NHL clubs will carry salary cap overages into next season. The Stars lead the list with over $2.9 million, followed by the Bruins ($1.928 million), Vancouver Canucks ($1.7 million), Carolina Hurricanes ($1.367 million), and Buffalo Sabres ($1.275 million). Because of the unusual circumstances emerging from this season, those teams have the option of dividing that amount equally over the next two seasons.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed forward Patrick Russell to a one-year, $700K contract extension.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said the club intends to honor defenseman Andrei Markov, who spent his entire 16-season NHL career with the Habs.    



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2020

The Lightning crushed the Bruins, the Flyers edge the Islanders in overtime, and the Avalanche get a big win over the Stars. Meanwhile, the NHL faces criticism over its response to protests over the Jacob Blake shooting. The latest in today’s morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning thumped the Boston Bruins 7-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and set up three others while Alex Killorn tallied twice and added an assist. The Bolts chased Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak from the game after he gave up four goals on 16 shots. His replacement, rookie Dan Vladar, didn’t fare any better, allowing three goals on 15 shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was over in the second period as the Lightning scored four goals to take a 6-1 lead by period’s end. The Bruins were undisciplined and the Bolts made them pay with three power-play goals. 

Philippe Myers scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Islanders 4-3 to tie their series at a game apiece. Kevin Hayes scored twice for the Flyers, who blew a 3-0 lead as the Isles battled back to tie the game after replacing goalie Semyon Varlamov with backup Thomas Greiss.



SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ top forwards played significant roles in this game, with Hayes scoring twice, Sean Couturier potting his first of the playoffs and assisting on Myers’ game-winner, while Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny each collected an assist. Nevertheless, the Flyers also learned a three-goal lead isn’t safe against the determined Islanders.

The Colorado Avalanche scored three unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Dallas Stars 6-4 in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Stars lead the series two games to one and were on the verge of taking a 3-0 series lead after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead before the Avs’ staged their comeback. Nazem Kadri netted the winning goal, Cale Makar collected three assists, and Nathan MacKinnon added two helpers. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin tallied for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining contest that see-sawed back and forth before the Avs rallied for the win. It wasn’t a shining moment for the goalies, as Colorado’s Pavel Francouz and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin looked shaky in this match.


SPORTSNET: The NHL opted not to postpone Wednesday’s games in the wake of the NBA’s decision to delay its games after players from several of its teams boycotted games in protest over the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The NHL instead staged a moment of reflection before the Tampa/Boston and Colorado/Dallas games.

The NHL’s decision prompted criticism from Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, who are among the members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance fighting racial injustice. Dumba called the move “disheartening” while Kane felt it was disappointing. Both men felt the NHL should do more to acknowledge the situation. 

CBC SPORTS: Hockey analyst Kelly Hrudey shared those sentiments, saying he felt the NHL should’ve postponed those games to show support for their NBA peers and the Black Lives Matter movement. He felt the league was missing out on important discussions about racial injustice.

ESPN.COM: Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning players said they learned about the NBA players boycott just before their game and didn’t have sufficient time to discuss the matter.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara voiced his support for his peers in other sports who sat out yesterday’s games. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he would’ve supported his players had they opted not to play. Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson of the Dallas Stars and Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche also voiced support, adding boycotting games isn’t the only way to back the cause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what transpires for today’s NHL games between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders and the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks. The league could be forced to postpone those games if players from those teams opt not to participate in support of their NBA peers.

THE SCORE: Sharks captain Logan Couture issued an apology after a tweet he made regarding American politics went viral. Couture claimed he was sucker-punched in Toronto after talking about voting for the Republican Party and mentioning US President Donald Trump. He added he didn’t explicitly say he’d vote for Trump but would vote Republican if he was an American citizen. Couture subsequently deleted those tweets after facing considerable criticism. The Sharks issued a statement condemning the use of violence toward Couture.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault issued an apology for lashing out at several fans on Instagram who criticized his play during his club’s 5-2 loss to Vancouver. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo a third surgery on his left shoulder and will be sidelined for five months. Meanwhile, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong indicated one-fifth of his squad tested positive for COVID-19 at some point before they departed for Edmonton on July 19. None of those players were asymptomatic, but their fitness levels were affected because they couldn’t train while under quarantine.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes will forfeit its second-round pick in 2020 and its first-round pick in 2021 as punishment for violating the NHL’s combine scouting policy. The league prohibits teams from testing prospects’ fitness before its’ annual draft combine.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Claude Julien expects to return behind the Canadiens bench whenever next season begins. The Habs coach had to leave his club during their first-round series against Philadelphia after experiencing chest pains. He had a stent implanted in one of his arteries and is expected to make a full recovery.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Mike Green announced his retirement after 15 seasons with the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and Edmonton Oilers. He netted 501 points in 880 career NHL games, as well as 37 points in 76 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Green’s best years were with the Capitals, including back-to-back 70-plus point campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He was a First Team All-Star and a finalist for the Norris Trophy in both those seasons. Injuries, however, would hamper his performance over the remainder of his career. Best wishes to Green and his family in their future endeavors.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2020

Could the NHL schedule permanently change to run through the summer? Check out the latest in today’s Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE DENVER POST: Mike Chambers reports hearing the NHL is looking into permanently beginning its regular-season schedule in late November, early December or possibly January. He said the league likes the idea of growing the game after the NFL and NBA seasons are over when baseball is the only major in-season sport.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Kevin Paul Dupont wonders if we’ll ever see regular-season games played in October and November again.

Could NHL summer hockey become a permanent thing? (Photo via NHL.com)

Dupont believes this year’s Stanley Cup could be awarded in early-October if the Return-To-Play Plan begins in early August, assuming there are no delays because of COVID-19. He envisions an off-season that would stretch from October into December, with the draft in late October, free agency perhaps starting on Nov. 1, and training camp opening in December.

Given the league’s intent to stage a full 82-game schedule for 2020-21, Dupont suggests the regular season could kick off on New Year’s Day. That would mean the playoffs would begin in July and finish in September. “Unless the virus has other things in mind.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s James Mirtle (subscription required) also reported of talk in some NHL circles about a permanent change to the NHL schedule. I don’t believe the league brain trust is seriously considering this option right now, but I daresay some executives will take a wait-and-see approach. If staging the Stanley Cup Playoffs this summer and next summer proves popular among sports fans, it certainly could become a permanent thing. It’s all just speculation at this point.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports it’s not official yet, “but it appears as though Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver are out as hub cities for the upcoming NHL games.” He claims Las Vegas is almost certain to be one of the two hub cities, with Chicago or Los Angeles as the other. He also reports hearing there will be no media, including game announcers, onsite.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the league wants to see what summer playoff hockey will look like, staging it in Las Vegas and Los Angeles will provide an interesting spotlight. Maintaining proper ice conditions in those warm-weather climates will be a significant challenge.

TSN: The NHL has suggested roster sizes of 28 skaters plus goaltenders for the 24-team Return-To-Play tournament. That number could change depending on negotiations with the NHL Players’ Association.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara wrote a heartfelt statement on Instagram after attending a Black Lives Matter protest in Boston on Friday.

“First thing is first and let me be clear: I stand with the Black community. Black Lives Matter,” Chara wrote. “There is no room in this world for racism. Period.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chara is the latest in a growing number of NHL stars to speak out against racial injustice over the past week. NHL executive Kim Davis believes it’s a “huge moment” for the league, suggesting it could take them “to yet another level of opportunity and change.”

THE SCORE: Despite the worst season of his career, Jimmy Howard isn’t considering retirement. The 36-year-old goaltender is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. While he’d love to stay with the Wings, he realizes that he probably won’t be re-signed. Nevertheless, he believes he can still play in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Howard might have to accept a professional tryout offer. If he does well in training camp for next season (whenever that might be), he could earn a one-year deal from a club seeking experienced goaltending depth.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2020

The latest on the league’s plans to reopen the season, an update on Zdeno Chara, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the NHL’s attempt to complete the 2019-20 season would satisfy some of its sponsorship agreements, recouping roughly half of the $1.1 billion it could lose by canceling the season. Pushing back the start of next season to mid-November could also work in the league’s favor. Physical distancing measures could be reduced or lifted in some NHL cities by that time, allowing teams to sell tickets again.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox reports canceling the season could see the NHL’s television contracts with Rogers Sportsnet and NBC Sports carry over for another year. The deal with NBC expires at the end of the 2020-21 playoffs, meaning the league would have to wait another year to negotiate a more lucrative contract.

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara isn’t thinking about retirement (Photo via NHL Images)

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Despite social distancing measures, Terry Jones believes the city of Edmonton would support being a divisional neutral-site host even if fans would be prohibited from attending games at Rogers Place arena. “I already know of people making preliminary plans to set up big-screen TVs and LED boards in parking lots to watch the games in their cars, drive-in-movie style,” writes Jones.

STLTODAY.COM: Jim Thomas reports Blues president and CEO Chris Zimmerman would love for the league to choose St. Louis as a divisional host city.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Elliott Teaford reports Rutgers University professor Dr. Mitchel Rosen is skeptical of the NHL’s plans to resume action this summer. Citing the potential spread of the coronavirus by personnel in close quarters, the Rangers’ season ticket holder recommends shutting down the season. “We should wait to have more tests available with rapid results, as well as proven, effective treatments,” said Rosen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dr. Rosen’s approach is the sensible one. Like all businesses affected by this pandemic, however, the NHL is trying to find the best option to resume operations at the earliest date while ensuring the safety and health of its employees.

THE SCORE: The current pause in the schedule doesn’t have Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara pondering retirement. The 43-year-old defenseman said he still loves playing the game and his current focus is playing some sort of hockey this season. The only active player from the 1996 draft class, Chara will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate Chara will sign another one-year, bonus-laden deal with the Bruins for next season. As long as he remains an effective member of their defense corps, the Bruins will keep him in the lineup.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Sam McCaig listed the all-time goals and points leaders for all 31 NHL franchises.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of the players on these lists might surprise you.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2020

The latest on Zdeno Chara, Brady Tkachuk, Kaapo Kakko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: During a conference call with NHL reporters on Monday, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara claimed goaltender Tuukka Rask’s smelly farts make him the teammate he’d least like to be quarantined with. “The way he farts? The smell is awful,” said Chara. “He likes his chicken wings. And after the chicken wings, I’ve had to sit behind him on the bus. I’ve got to tell you. I’ve got to control myself sometimes.”

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given how depressing most of the NHL news has been of late because of COVID-19, I thought Chara’s remarks about Rask brought a welcome bit of levity yesterday.

OTTAWA SUN: During the same conference call, Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk said his two teammates who tested positive for COVID-19 are doing well. “We’re a tight group so we’re always in contact with one another but I think all of us are just concerned about them and everybody impacted by it.”

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes Kaapo Kakko’s stubbornness is blocking his potential greatness. The rookie Ranger’s insistence on holding the puck isn’t working as well in the NHL as it did when he dominated in Finland. He’s also struggled with the defensive of his game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brooks feels Kakko has the tools to become a dominant NHL player. The youngster isn’t the first promising player who’s ever struggled to adjust to the NHL in his rookie season. With maturity and a willingness to learn, he should become the elite winger he was projected to become.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong believes his club is in a good spot to defend their Stanley Cup title if the season is resumed. “With the knowledge of what we did last year, and that we have a mature team, we’re not worried about whether they’re preparing or what they’re doing off the ice, eating correctly and doing whatever workouts they need to be doing; I know they are because they’ve shown that year in and year out,” Armstrong told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said no Capitals players have exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. Nevertheless, the club is preparing for all scenarios, including returning to action at some point in the summer if the league resumes action by then.

TSN: The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers yesterday announced temporary staff layoffs during the COVID-19 period. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed forward Michael Chaput to a one-year, two-way contract.

SPORTSNET: Goaltender Eddie Lack yesterday announced his retirement because of hip injuries. He spent five seasons in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames, and New Jersey Devils. He compiled a “56-55-18 record, 2.62 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and nine shutouts.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lack in his future endeavours.