NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2020

Result of the NHLPA executive board vote on proposed return-to-play format is expected today, a closer look at what the proposed format could look like, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHLPA EXECUTIVE VOTES ON PROPOSED RETURN-TO-PLAY FORMAT

SPORTSNET: The National Hockey League Players’ Association executive board voted Thursday night the NHL’s proposed 24-team return-to-play tournament. The board is comprised of the 31 NHLPA player representatives. The result of the vote is expected by Friday evening.

The NHLPA executive board is voting on a 24-team return-to-play tournament format.

The top-four teams in each conference qualify for the 16-team playoffs, receiving a bye from the 16-team, best-of-five play-in series. They will, however, play a three-game round-robin against each other to determine their final seedings.

“In the Eastern Conference, the opening round will play out like this:

• 5. Pittsburgh vs. 12. Montreal (winner plays four seed)
• 6. Carolina vs. 11. Rangers (winner plays three seed)
• 7. Islanders vs. 10. Florida (winner plays two seed)
• 8. Toronto vs. 9. Columbus (winner plays one seed)

And the Western Conference opening round will play out like this:

• 5. Edmonton vs. 12. Chicago (winner plays four seed)
• 6. Nashville vs. 11. Arizona (winner plays three seed)
• 7. Vancouver vs. 10. Minnesota (winner plays two seed)
• 8. Calgary vs. 9. Winnipeg (winner plays one seed)”

“Once the play-in tournament has concluded, the playoffs will be “bracketed” — similar to what is done in the NCAA tournament — meaning any of the top-four teams in the East or West could actually end up facing the lowest remaining seed following the play-in round. For example, the No. 4 seed could face No. 12 Montreal (in the event the Canadiens pulled off an upset over No. 5 Pittsburgh) while the No. 1 seed would be left with the winner of No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 9 Columbus.”

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the 24 clubs will be determined by points percentage. “The top four in the East are Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington, and Philadelphia; in the West, it’s St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas.”

TSN:  Bob McKenzie reports the “NHLPA conference call tonight was spirited if not raucous. While exec committee voting won’t be finalized until Friday, some believe Don Fehr may already have or will get the mandate to accept NHL RTP plan but not overwhelmingly so.”

“Which is to suggest that even if there are enough votes to pass, it may still be a tough call. Emotional issue, as one might expect. We should have more clarity in the next 24 hours.”

Frank Seravalli reports the when, where, and how for the return-to-play plan and the host cities hasn’t been determined yet. NHL general managers have privately expressed frustration with bracketing the playoffs, with some suggesting the rounds should be reseeded. The top-tier clubs are complaining about clubs like Montreal and Chicago being allowed to reach the playoffs.

Developing a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan and the logistics of staging these games in two or four host cities still has to be sorted out. The NHL and NHLPA remain hopeful of implementing Phase 2 of their return-to-play program, which would see players engage in small-group training at their respective NHL facilities, after June 1.

Darren Dreger reports the NHL is leaning toward two hub cities. The province of Alberta is putting forth a major push for Edmonton to be one of those cities. Las Vegas is thought to be the front-runner, though there’s concern over the heat there in July and August whereas the average summer temperatures in Edmonton are more comfortable.

McKenzie said several NHL GMs feel a 24-team play-in format is a made-for-TV event with Chicago and the New York Rangers being involved. There are also questions over how the outcome of this tournament could affect the draft lottery.

NBC SPORTS: Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson and Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal raised concerns about the players being possibly isolated from their families for weeks under the proposed format. Carlson felt a 24-team tournament sounded like a lot, while Staal spoke of the many hurdles the league faces in pulling this off. Nevertheless, both players understand the challenges and seem willing to work with the league.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole is fully supportive of whatever decision is reached to return to action. “To be honest with you, I like to keep it simple: Whatever gets us back and playing, I’m 100 percent for. Whether that’s 16 teams, 24 teams — 30 teams, 31 teams — whatever gets us back and playing I’m 100 percent on board with,” Cole said.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin dismisses concerns over how a 24-team tournament might hurt the integrity of the NHL playoffs. He cites the NHL’s long history of wild, sometimes unfair formats.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This proposed format won’t please everyone and the NHLPA executive board could come back with some recommendations to adjust it. A number of players will have legitimate concerns about ensuring their health and safety and the long separations from their families.

Nevertheless, I anticipate the PA reps will vote to approve it, with the league board of governors giving their blessing soon afterward. The league and the PA will then shift their focus toward ironing out timelines, approving hub cities, and addressing the daunting logistics in staging this tournament.

I understand the concerns regarding the fairness of the proposed tournament and the integrity of the playoffs. But if the league can pull this off, those concerns will be forgotten. Even those hockey fans taking to social media proclaiming they’ll never watch it will probably find themselves drawn toward it, especially if it involves their favorite team. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports an NHL source indicates the league’s intention is “to agree on a slide with the NHL Players’ Association, which would uniformly extend all contracts through the end of the 2019-20 season.” That would also apply to minor-league players on two-way contracts. The league also hopes to do the same for coaches and other team employees on expiring contracts, but “(The) dynamic is different without collective representation.” 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, player contracts that would’ve expired on June 30 will be extended to the end of the proposed return-to-play format. That could be sometime in September. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman speculates we probably won’t see NHL training camps open before July. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Winnipeg’s pro sports teams can reopen their training facilities under strict physical distancing guidelines. 

PUCKPEDIA: Part three of their NHL player agents’ poll examines the best way to grow league revenue, whether there will be a lockout in 2022, and more. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2019

Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Josh Morrissey, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Pietrangelo’s 400th career point was also the game-winning goal as the St. Louis Blues edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 32 saves for the win. The Leafs best scorers – Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner – were held pointless in his contest.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tallied the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo via NHL Images).

Alexandre Texier’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. He and teammate Nick Foligno each had a goal and an assist.

HEADLINES

New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha, and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 6, 2019.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin threw the ceremonial first pitch in Game 4 of yesterday’s National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nationals won 6-1 to tie the best-of-five series at two games apiece.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins centers Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad will be sidelined “longer term” due to lower-body injuries. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan expects Malkin will be out longer than Bjugstad but said his injury wasn’t season-ending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big blow to the Penguins depth at center. Jared McCann could shift from the left wing to cover the second-line center position. Dominik Kahun could slot into the third- or fourth-line center spot. The Penguins also called up Sam Lafferty and Andrew Agozzino.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey returned to practice yesterday after missing Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders. Blueliner Dmitry Kulikov will miss tonight’s game in Pittsburgh as he’s in Winnipeg dealing with a personal matter.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings placed Andreas Athanasiou, Frans Nielsen, Trevor Daley, and Jonathan Ericsson on injured reserve. They’ve called up forwards Evgeny Svechnikov and Ryan Kuffner, and defensemen Oliwer Kaski and Alex Biega.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers traded forward Vladislav Namestnikov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for minor-league defenseman Nick Ebert and a 2021 fourth-round pick. The Rangers reportedly retain $750K of Namestnikov’s salary-cap hit

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a cost-cutting move by the Rangers, saving over $3 million in salary-cap space. Namestnikov is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer and no longer fit into their future plans. This move brings experienced depth at center to the rebuilding Senators.

THE DENVER POST: With defenseman Ian Cole returning from injury, the Colorado Avalanche reassigned rookie blueliner Conor Timmons to the Colorado Eagles.

THE SCORE: Journeyman goaltender Michael Leighton announced his retirement after 18 season of professional hockey. He played for 21 teams during his career, mostly in the AHL. His NHL high point was backstopping the Philadelphia Flyers to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

In 111 career NHL games with the Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Carolina Hurricanes, Leighton finished with a record of 37 wins, 43 losses, and 14 overtime defeats, with a 2.98 goals-against average, .900 save percentage and four shutouts.

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










Where Are They Now? 2006 Carolina Hurricanes

Where Are They Now? 2006 Carolina Hurricanes

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2019

Recaps of the final games of the 2018-19 season, first-round playoff matchups set, Nikita Kucherov wins Art Ross Trophy, Bob Cole signs off, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning tied the league record for most wins in a season (62) by defeating the Boston Bruins 6-3. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov tallied a goal and set up another to finish the season with 128 points, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer and scoring the most points in one season by a Russian-born player.  The Lightning will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov won the 2019 Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer (Photo via NHL Images)

Montreal Canadiens center Ryan Poehling scored his first NHL goal, collected his first big-league hat trick, and tallied his first game-winning and shootout goals in a 6-5 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite Poehling’s four-goal debut, the Canadiens missed the playoffs with 96 points. The Leafs go on to face the Bruins in the opening round.  This game was also the last for Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole. The 85-year-old is retiring following a 50-year career

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Growing up in the 1970s, Danny Gallivan was my favorite hockey play-by-play man. After Gallivan’s retirement in 1984, Cole became the voice of Saturday night for me. So many great games, so many memories. For me, the best game he ever called was Game Five of the 1984 Patrick Division semi-final between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. 

Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl reached the 50-goal plateau for the first time in a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. His achievement was overshadowed by team captain Connor McDavid leaving the game with an injured left leg. X-rays revealed no broken bones but he’s slated for an MRI on Monday. The Flames, meanwhile, will face the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round. 

Sidney Crosby reached 100 points for the sixth time in his career but his Pittsburgh Penguins were nipped 4-3 by the New York Rangers in overtime. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time. Ryan Strome scored the winning goal for the Rangers. The Penguins will face off against the New York Islanders in the first round. 

The Islanders, meanwhile, got a 29-save shutout from Robin Lehner and two goals by Valtteri Filppula as they blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0. Lehner and Thomas Greiss won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the league’s lowest goals-against average. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin finished the season with 51 goals to win his eighth career Rocket Richard Trophy. He also set a record by leading the league in goals for the eighth time.

Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson set a franchise record for most goals in a season (34) as his club downed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, whose first-round opponent will be the Dallas Stars. Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz, 39, is a free agent this summer and uncertain of what his NHL future might be. 

Ben Bishop set a Dallas Stars record with the highest single-season save percentage (.934) and Tyler Seguin scored two goals to blank the Minnesota Wild 3-0. Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is hopeful of returning behind the bench next season. He’s got a year remaining on his contract and there’s no indication the club is considering a coaching change. 

Shootout goals by Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues will face off against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the playoffs. 

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice as the Columbus Blue Jackets romped to a 6-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Oliver Bjorkstrand also had a three-point night for the Blue Jackets, who’ll face the Lightning in the opening round. 

Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner scored twice to reach the 40-goal mark for the first time as his club thumped the Detroit Red Wings 7-1. Red Wings captain Niklas Kronwall said he hasn’t made up his mind yet if he’ll return for another season. The 38-year-old had one of his healthiest seasons in years, prompting speculation he might have one more season left in him. 

Aleksander Barkov set a Florida Panthers record by reaching 96 points in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. Nathan Bastian scored two goals and Travis Zajac netted the game-winner. 

Carolina Hurricanes forwards Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist as their club nipped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. The Hurricanes’ opening-round opponent will be the Washington Capitals.

Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor each tallied a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. The Jets will open the playoffs at home against the Blues.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals to give the Los Angeles Kings a season-ending 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, who dropped seven of their final eight regular-season contests. The Golden Knights face off against the San Jose Sharks in the opening round. 

Erik Karlsson returned to the San Jose Sharks lineup for the first time since Feb. 26 in a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. He was held pointless but skated over 22 minutes and finished the night with a plus-minus of plus-three. 

The complete 2019 Stanley Cup playoff bracket can be found here










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2019

Game recaps and remembering the late Ted Lindsay in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Hall of Fame forward Ted Lindsay has passed away at the age of 93. He spent all but three of his 17 NHL seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, helping them win four Stanley Cups in the 1950s and served as captain from 1952-53 to 1956-57. He also starred on the famous “Production Line” with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel.

A skilled, tough, rambunctious player, “Terrible Ted” mocked opponents, clashed with referees and argued with Wings head coach and general manager Jack Adams. His efforts to form a players union led to his being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lindsay left a long legacy with the Red Wings and in the NHL. In 1,068 games, Lindsay tallied 379 goals, 472 assists and 851 points, along with 1,808 PIMs, winning the Art Ross Trophy in 1950. In 133 playoff games, he scored 47 goals and 96 points. He later went on to serve as Red Wings general manager from 1977 to 1980 and briefly coached them in 1979-80 and 1980-81.

Lindsay was long active in the Detroit community and raised over $1.5 million for autism research. In 2010, the NHL Players Association remained the Lester B. Pearson Award to the Ted Lindsay Award in recognition of his groundbreaking efforts to form a union. Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966, Lindsay was named one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players in 2017.   

NHL.COM: Blake Wheeler scored four goals, Mark Scheifele collected three assists, and Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 40 shots to give the Winnipeg Jets a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jets (82 points) hold first place in the Central Division while the Blue Jackets (75 points) sit two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Since the trade deadline, the Jackets have dropped three of their last games. This definitely isn’t the outcome management expected when they brought in Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid leading up to last Monday’s trade deadline. 

A four-goal performance by Blake Wheeler carried the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo via NHL Images)

Ryan Johansson’s shootout goal gave the Nashville Predators a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, snapping the latter’s five-game winning streak. Predators forward Craig Smith rejoined the lineup after missing six games with a lower-body injury. The Predators (81 points) sit one behind the Jets for first place in the Central Division while the Wild (71 points) hold the final wild-card spot in the West.  

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves to pick up his second straight shutout (and his league-leading eighth of the season) backstopping his club to a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Fleury also leads the league with 32 wins. With the loss, the Canucks (63 points) sit eight points out of a playoff berth in the Western Conference. 

A three-goal third period powered the San Jose Sharks to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Melker Karlsson tallied twice for the Sharks, who were playing without defenseman Erik Karlsson for the second straight game with a groin injury. Karlsson won’t require surgery but the Sharks intend to be “extra cautious” with him. The Blackhawks (63 points) sit eight points out of a playoff spot in the West. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Of course they’ll be “extra cautious.” The Sharks want Karlsson healthy and ready to go for the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. No point risking reaggravating that injury on some meaningless games down the stretch. 

Alex Ovechkin tallied the game-winner to give the Washington Capitals a 3-2 shootout win over the New York Rangers. With the win, the Capitals (83 points) take over sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division from the New York Islanders. 

The Philadelphia Flyers picked up their 16th victory in their last 21 games by defeating the Islanders 4-1. Claude Giroux collected two assists for the Flyers, reaching the 70-point plateau for the sixth time in his career.  Forwards Jakub Voracek missed the game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day while Nolan Patrick left the game after taking a puck to the head and is listed as day-to-day. With 72 points, the Flyers are five points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Jakob Silfverberg had a goal and an assist as the Anaheim Ducks snapped a five-game losing skid by edging the Colorado Avalanche 2-1. Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole was ejected from the game following a knee-on-knee hit on Ducks forward Devin Shore, who had to be helped off the ice and didn’t return. He undergoes an MRI today. The loss leaves the Avalanche (68 points) three points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Ottawa Senators ended a five-game losing streak by nipping the Florida Panthers 3-2. Senators goalie Anders Nilsson made 30 saves for the win.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2019

Game recaps, Mikko Koivu suffers a season-ending injury, Devils trade Brian Boyle to Nashville, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs blew a 4-2 lead but Morgan Rielly’s third-period goal gave them a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. Magnus Paajarvi scored twice for the Senators. During the game, CBC’s long-time play-by-play man Bob Cole was given a standing ovation as he called his final Leafs game. 

Morgan Rielly’s third-period goal gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images)

The New York Rangers edged the Boston Bruins 4-3 on a shootout goal by Tony DeAngelo. 

SPORTSNET: Speak of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk vows his club will spend close to the salary cap from 2021 to 2025 once the club’s current rebuild is completed. “The Senators will be all-in again for a five-year run of unparalleled success – where the team will plan to spend close to the NHL’s salary cap every year from 2021 to 2025,” according to a statement released by the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remains to be seen if Senators fans will buy into Melnyk’s vision. They’ve been disappointed by the club’s direction in recent years and unhappy with Melnyk’s ownership of the Sens. 

The Minnesota Wild yesterday announced captain Mikko Koivu is expected to undergo season-ending surgery Friday on his right knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koivu’s absence leaves a big hole at the second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill. It will affect their efforts to hang onto a playoff spot in the Western Conference

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators made two trades yesterday. The first saw them acquire forward Brian Boyle from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. They also reacquired forward Cody McLeod from the New York Rangers in exchange for a seventh-round selection in the 2020 draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Austin Watson sidelined indefinitely while undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction and Zac Rinaldo undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery the Predators had a need for more size and grit on their checking lines. Boyle and McLeod should address those issues. Boyle also brings in additional leadership and playoff experience plus he also has a decent scoring touch, with 13 goals in 47 games this season. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is questionable for the club’s upcoming three-game road trip after suffering an upper-body injury. Head coach Mike Sullivan said it’s not a concussion and Murray will travel with the team. Goalie Tristan Jarry has been recalled on an emergency basis

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien returns to action tonight against the Montreal Canadiens after missing 15 games with a foot injury. Blueliner Josh Morrissey is questionable after blocking a shot during Tuesday’s overtime loss against San Jose. 

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot apologized to his teammates for remaining in the dressing room after being pulled in the third period of their 6-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. 

CSNPHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers placed forward Jori Lehtera on waivers. He’s expected to clear and be sent to their AHL affiliate.

Former NHL stars Mike Modano, Miroslav Satan, and Ziggy Palffy are among the eight members of the International Ice Hockey Federations’ Hall of Fame Class of 2019. 

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks forward and captain Andre Boudrias has passed away at age 75. He spent 12 seasons in the NHL from 1963-64 to 1975-76 with the Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota North Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and St. Louis Blues. His most successful period was with the Canucks, with five straight seasons of 61-plus points. He was also an assistant general manager with the Montreal Canadiens and was part of their Stanley Cup championship teams in 1986 and 1993. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Boudrias’ family, friends, and former teammates and associates. He was the Canucks first scoring star, netting a career-best 78 points in 1974-75 and leading them to their first playoff appearance in 1975. He also spent two seasons in the WHA, helping the Quebec Nordiques win the Avco World Trophy in 1977.