NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2022

Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo gets three points against his former club, Sidney Crosby enjoys a four-point performance and Hall-of-Famer Clark Gillies has passed away. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo scored and set up two others in a 6-3 victory over the New York Rangers. It was DeAngelo’s first game against his former club. Sebastian Aho also had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes (56), who move ahead of the Rangers into first place in the Metropolitan Division with four games in hand. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider each had a goal and an assist for the Blueshirts.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Sidney Crosby tallied a hat trick and picked up an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. Brian Dumoulin scored and picked up two assists for the Penguins, who’ve won four straight and 15 of their last 17 games. With 55 points, they’re one back of the Hurricanes and Rangers in the Metropolitan.

Shootout goals by Anton Lundell and Aleksander Barkov carried the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Spencer Knight made 27 saves for the Panthers in regulation and overtime while Spencer Martin kicked out 33 shots for the Canucks in his first NHL game since Feb. 1, 2017. With the win, the Panthers (61 points) opened a two-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the overall standings.

Speaking of the Lightning, they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks, who snapped a four-game losing skid. John Gibson turned aside 32 shots for the win while teammate Derek Grant tallied two goals. The Ducks (47 points) moved two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso stopped 27 shots to shut out the Seattle Kraken 5-0. Brandon Saad collected two assists for the Blues as they moved into second place in the Central Division with 53 points. Colton Parayko became the first defenseman in Blues history to score on a penalty shot.

The Minnesota Wild got two goals from Ryan Hartman in a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Kaapo Kahkonen picked up the win with 35 saves while Blackhawks netminder Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after giving up four goals on 13 shots. With 49 points, the Wild hold a five-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

An overtime goal by Roope Hintz lifted the Dallas Stars over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Hintz, Jason Robertson and Esa Lindell each had a goal and an assist as the Stars (42 points) moved within two points of the Sharks for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

Brock Nelson scored twice and Ilya Sorokin had a 17-save shutout as the New York Islanders blanked the Arizona Coyotes 4-0.

ISLANDERS GREAT CLARK GILLIES HAS PASSED AWAY

Former New York Islanders forward Clark Gillies (NHL.com).

The Islanders last night announced Hall-of-Famer Clark Gillies had passed away at age 67. No cause of death was revealed. One of the great power forwards in NHL history, Gillies spent 12 of his 14 seasons with the Islanders, helping them win four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. He also spent three seasons as Isles captain from 1976-77 to 1978-79 and played his final two NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before retiring in 1988.

A six-time 30-plus goal scorer, Gillies finished with 319 goals and 697 points in 958 regular-season games and 47 goals and 94 points in 164 playoff games. The Islanders retired Gillies’ No. 9 in 1996 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gillies was a core part of the Islanders dynasty who led by example and was beloved by teammates and fans. At 6’3” and 215 pounds, he was one of the largest players of his era. Affectionately nicknamed “Jethro” after the Beverly Hillbillies character, Gilles was also one of the toughest players of his era though he never had more than 100 penalty minutes in a season. My condolences to Gillies’ family, friends, former teammates and the Islanders organization.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE PHILADEPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers forward Joel Farabee (upper body) was placed on injured reserve yesterday. He’s expected to be sidelined for four weeks.

TSN: Former Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader signed a professional tryout contract with the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. He spent last season playing for EV Zug in Switzerland.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2021

The fallout from the NHL’s withdrawal from the 2020 Winter Olympics, questions over the league’s plans to address the current COVID outbreak among its teams, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NOTE: The NHL expanded its annual holiday break to begin on Dec. 22 and ending on Dec. 26.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr believes it’s a “real shame” NHL players will miss out on another Winter Olympics. However, he acknowledged the inevitability of Wednesday’s decision to withdraw from the Games due to the COVID-19 outbreaks around the NHL and the “profound disruption” to the league’s schedule.

While the decision was out of the players’ control, Fehr said they were devastated and frustrated by the news. He declined to say whether current or former players would still attempt to participate in the Olympics. There’s also no indication whether the Bejing Games would be postponed to 2023.

NBC SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane are among the notable NHLers to lament the league’s decision to withdraw from the Games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports the decision caused some internal strife with the NHLPA ranks. A player agent told Murphy the players he spoke to were “ticked off”. Murphy also cited Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck telling the Winnipeg media he believed the league’s COVID protocols were “a little overkill”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players who are “ticked off” are likely in a minority. This wasn’t the NHL yanking the rug from beneath their Olympic aspirations for spite or a change of heart. The recent COVID wave and its effect upon the league’s schedule is the culprit.

This decision was based on the effect this wave could have on hockey-related revenue. Two weeks ago, league commissioner Gary Bettman projected revenue for 2021-22 could reach $5 billion, an increase over the initial projection of $4.8 billion earlier in the fall.

Rising COVID numbers around the league, however, threaten those projections. With 48 postponed games to be made up (and possibly more if the outbreaks are sufficiently contained), the league also risked being unable to complete a full 82-game schedule on time. Going to the Olympics would eat up three valuable weeks in February that can be put toward staging those postponed games.

Shortening the schedule isn’t an option here, especially for the players. They still have to repay the owners for the overage of their share of the HRR they collected last season. That’s because the salary cap was set artificially high to ensure teams could maintain their rosters. However, it didn’t reflect actual revenue.

Under Bettman’s recent projection, the players would pay that share back in two years’ time. Shortening the season to accommodate Olympic participation would see those HRR projections fall short, meaning it would take another year for the players to pay that money back. That also means continued marginal increases in the salary cap until such time as that debt to the owners has been repaid.

The players may be disappointed in not getting a shot at Olympic gold in February but they care more about their paychecks.

The NHL’s withdrawal from the Olympics also meant a change of management and coaching for Canada and the United States. St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has stepped down as GM of Team Canada while Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin did the same for Team USA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong hands the reins over to Hockey Canada to find suitable staff to ice a Canadian team of amateurs and former NHL players at the Beijing Games. USA Hockey will also be finding replacements for Guerin and his staff.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL and NHLPA have discussed the potential reimplementation of the taxi squad and adoption of salary-cap exemptions for COVID-related roster issues for the remainder of this season.

Brooks believes ESPN is the reason why the 2022 All-Star Game remains a go in February. He also thinks the league and the PA will have to consider whether there will come a time to allow asymptomatic players who have tested positive to continue playing.

TSN: The NHL could consider rescheduling some of the Montreal Canadiens home games in January to later in the season if they cannot play in front of fans in their home arena.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The province of Quebec has banned fans from indoor sporting events until the end of January. The Canadiens would lose considerable revenue without fans at those games, in turn affecting the league’s hockey-related revenue for this season.

SPORTSNET: has a daily updated COVID tracker of all NHL teams. Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane were the latest notable players to enter COVID protocol.

TSN: Salim Valji wonders if there’s a glimmer of hope of keeping the Calgary Flames arena deal alive. According to Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek, the club’s ownership walked away from its partnership with the city of Calgary over a projected $9.7 million increase in the projected cost of the $600 million project. However, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation CEO John Bean claimed there were $19 million in additional infrastructure costs that he said were introduced after their July 2021 agreement, with the city seeking an additional $10 million in funding from CSEC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Valji indicated Mayor Gondek said the city wasn’t closing the door on the deal. “We’re simply waiting for them to come back and say they found the money,” she said. By the sound of things, CSEC isn’t going to come up with it.

Still, this could be simply public posturing by Flames ownership to put the squeeze on the city. Perhaps league commissioner Bettman will get involved to sort things out if this drags on.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2021

Concern as COVID-19 cases rises among the players, Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews scoring reach milestones and Ben Bishop ends his playing career. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

COVID-19 CASES RISING AMONG NHL PLAYERS

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Tuesday’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild was postponed as six Hurricanes players and a member of their training staff went into COVID protocol. Jordan Staal, Andrei Svechnikov, Steve Lorentz and Ian Cole entered the protocol one day after Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis did. The NHL will provide a further update on the Hurricanes schedule on Wednesday.

CALGARY SUN: The number of Flames on COVID protocol reached 10 after Milan Lucic, Sean Monahan and Noah Hanifin were placed on the list yesterday.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal is in COVID protocol. This comes three days after Casey Cizikas was the last of eight Isles to come off the list following an outbreak that began last month.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews will miss at least six games after testing positive for COVID-19.

THE PROVINCE: Four members of the Vancouver Canucks (Luke Schenn, Tucker Poolman, Brad Hunt and Juho Lammikko) have tested positive for COVID-19 since Monday. Poolman was pulled from last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets five minutes into the first period after the results of his test came through.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Ryan McLeod joined the COVID protocol list yesterday. Head coach Dave Tippett was held out of last night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs as a precautionary measure.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers forward Morgan Frost left last night’s game against the New Jersey Devils within the first five minutes of the first period due to COVID protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: 24 NHL players entered the league’s COVID protocol within 36 hours. The good news is their symptoms (and those of players who tested positive earlier this season) were in most cases minor because all but one player is double-vaccinated. Nevertheless, they must self-isolate for between seven-to-10 days depending on the outcome of subsequent testing to prevent or slow the spread of the coronavirus.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL isn’t considering pausing its schedule yet because of the recent outbreaks. Doctors with the league and NHLPA advising both sides had a call on Tuesday evening to discuss the latest events and consider the next steps. That could include a return to enhanced protocols such as more mandated mask-wearing to daily testing of players and staff.

The outbreaks also raised concern over NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics based on the three-to-five week quarantine rules for players who test positive while taking part in the Men’s Ice Hockey tournament. The mood among the NHLPA membership is to wait and see, review the information and reach a decision on participation as the Jan. 10 deadline to opt-out approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun also said that to his knowledge no players have yet to decide against skating in the Olympics based on those strict COVID rules. The league has left it in the NHLPA’s hands whether or not they’ll take part. It could depend on the spread of the Omicron variant between now and the Jan. 10 deadline.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby became the 14th player in NHL history to reach 400 multi-point games by collecting two assists in a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Crosby is the only active player to reach that mark. Evan Rodrigues had a goal and two assists as the Penguins pushed their winning streak to five straight. The Canadiens have dropped seven in a row.

Auston Matthews scored two goals to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-1 victory over the slumping Edmonton Oilers. Matthews joined Dave Keon as the only Leaf to reach 20 goals in each of their first six seasons. The Leafs sit atop the overall standings with 42 points. Oilers defenseman Duncan Keith returned to action after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is now tied for second place in the goal-scoring race with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin with 20 goals. Edmonton Leon Draisaitl has 23.

The Vancouver Canucks extended their winning streak to five games by nipping the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Canucks overcame a 3-0 deficit as Bo Horvat scored twice and Quinn Hughes collected three assists. They have yet to lose since Bruce Boudreau took over as head coach last week.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty tallied twice to extend his goal streak to seven games in a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Mark Stone collected two assists as he and Pacioretty have each collected points in nine straight contests.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Florida Panthers 8-2. Josh Norris scored twice and added an assist, Drake Batherson had a goal and three assists and Connor Brown had three helpers.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Cam Atkinson’s hat trick led his club to a 6-1 drubbing of the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers have won three straight games after dropping their first two games under interim coach Mike Yeo.

An overtime goal by Mathieu Joseph lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. The Lightning has won six of their last seven games. With 40 points, the defending Stanley Cup champions are just two back of the league-leading Maple Leafs.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin scored two goals and Nazem Kadri had three assists to beat the New York Rangers 4-2. Nathan MacKinnon also picked up two assists for the Avalanche as they’ve won five straight.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored and chipped in two assists in the St. Louis Blues’ 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. Blues goalie Charlie Lindgren made 33 saves as his club is unbeaten (4-0-2) in their last six games. The Stars, meanwhile, have dropped four straight.

The Buffalo Sabres snapped a seven-game skid by doubling up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Rasmus Dahlin scored twice (including the game-winner) while rookie goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 34 saves for his first career NHL win.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic made 34 saves to hold off the New York Islanders 2-1. Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen tallied for the Wings while Anders Lee replied for the Isles.

The Seattle Kraken got a 33-save performance by Chris Driedger to down the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Calle Jarnkrok had a goal and an assist.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin has been officially named as GM of Team USA in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Ben Bishop yesterday announced his playing career was over after struggling with a knee injury that has hampered him since the 2019 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bishop and his family in their future endeavors. He was one of the NHL elite goaltenders between 2013-14 and 2019-20.

Bishop finishes with a record of 222 wins, 128 losses and 36 overtime losses with a career 2.32 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and 33 shutouts. He was a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist and a two-time Second Team All-Star during his tenures with the Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 16, 2021

Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa are among the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inducted on Monday, COVID-19 derails the Senators schedule, Alex Ovechkin tops the three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa were among the six inductees of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 on Monday. Kevin Lowe and Doug Wilson were the other notable former NHL players to be inducted. Canadian women’s hockey star Kim St. Pierre was also inducted into the players’ category while Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland was inducted into the builders’ category.

Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa and Kevin Lowe are among the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020. (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the HHoF Class of 2020. Their induction ceremony was delayed a year due to COVID-19. The pandemic also meant there would be no inductees for 2021 as the decision was made to allow last year’s class to enjoy the same ceremony as those of previous classes.

OTTAWA SUN: The NHL has postponed the Senators’ three games this week due to the outbreak of COVID-19 that has sidelined 10 players and assistant coach Jack Capuano. The expectation is the Senators will return to action next Monday against the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL is the first major North American sports league to postpone games this season. This recent outbreak among the Senators reached the point where the club depleted their AHL affiliate calling up replacements. The San Jose Sharks endured a recent outbreak that sidelined seven players and head coach Bob Boughner but it didn’t reach the point where they could no longer call up replacements from the minors.

Everyone on the Senators and Sharks was fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Breakthrough infections, however, can still occur, especially among athletes in close contact with each other despite protocols to limit the spread. The NHL’s protocols had been loosened for this season as COVID restrictions eased throughout North America.

The Senators will make up those postponed games at later dates. Whether this leads to any tightening of the NHL’s COVID protocols remains to be seen.

Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, and Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 14, 2021.

GAME RECAPS

Brayden Point had a goal and an assist and Victor Hedman collected two assists to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders, handing the latter their third straight loss. The Lightning has won six of their last 10 games while the Islanders (5-5-2) sit at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been an uneven start for the Isles. They were projected to be a Stanley Cup contender after reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2020 and the semifinal last season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-3. Yegor Chinakhov tied the game for the Jackets with his first career NHL goal and Zach Werenski tallied the game-winner. Red Wings forwards Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond each had a goal and an assist.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Two days after returning from injury, Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis is once again sidelined by a lingering lower-body injury. His status is listed as week-to-week.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche forward J.T. Compher will be sidelined for approximately a month with an upper-body injury.

WASHINGTON POST’s Samantha Pell reports Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby won’t face supplemental discipline for throwing Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary into the boards during Sunday’s game.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights forward William Carrier entered COVID protocol while defenseman Alec Martinez remains sidelined after suffering a facial laceration requiring 50 stitches in last Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Coyotes forwards Christian Fischer and Dmitrij Jaskin were placed on injured reserve while Johan Larsson entered COVID protocol.

TSN: The St. Louis Blues placed forward Kyle Clifford on waivers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 4, 2021

Canada’s 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team names its first three players, the league reaches out to Robin Lehner over his social media accusations, Jake Guentzel tests positive for COVID-19, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong has notified Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo they will be part of the 2022 Olympic team. The move was made at the request of the International Ice Hockey Federation, the NHL, and the NHL Players Association.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

This will be Crosby’s third Olympics, the second for Pietrangelo and the first for McDavid.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s no surprise seeing Crosby, McDavid and Pietrangelo being named to Canada’s squad. I daresay Crosby will be named team captain as he was in 2014. It remains to be seen when the rest of the roster will be named.

No word on which three players will be named to the other men’s Olympic ice hockey clubs. Perhaps those will be revealed in the coming days.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The NHL has reached out to Robin Lehner to set up an interview after the Vegas Golden Knights goaltender took to social media accusing several teams of giving players drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

Lehner claimed he knew several teams that gave players sedatives and anxiety pills with a doctor’s consent, singling out the Philadelphia Flyers and head coach Alain Vigneault. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher issued a statement yesterday denying the allegation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner claimed he had proof to back up his allegation against the Flyers though he never played for the club or Vigneault. As I said yesterday, he could end up in hot water if he cannot substantiate his claims. If he can, however, it could force the league to launch an investigation.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed in the NHL’s protocol for the coronavirus. He’s the second Penguin to test positive, joining forward Zach Aston-Reese.

Guentzel must remain in isolation for 10 days following his positive test. If he’s asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, he can be released from isolation if he receives two negative tests during that period.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Josh Archibald has been diagnosed with COVID-related myocarditis. It’s the same heart ailment that sidelined Oilers goalie Alex Stalock.

Archibald had contracted COVID during the summer. The unvaccinated forward was in the midst of his 14-day quarantine after traveling to Edmonton from the United States for training camp when he began to not feel well.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Stalock, Archibald’s career is now in jeopardy. Myocarditis causes inflammation of the heart muscle which can prove fatal under physical exertion. Stalock is out for the upcoming season and Archibald could suffer the same fate.

TSN: The Vancouver Canucks officially signed Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to their new contracts yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the full details. It’s going to be expensive for the Canucks to re-sign Pettersson at the end of his three-year contract. He’ll earn $10.25 million in actual salary in the final season (2023-24) of that deal, meaning it’ll cost them that much to qualify his rights. Hughes, on the other hand, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of his new six-year contract.

**UPDATE**: I’ve been reminded that rule for contracts signed after July 10, 2020, is now 120 percent of the contract’s annual average value. That means it’ll cost the Canucks $8.82 million to qualify Pettersson’s rights. Still expensive but not as much as $10.25 million. 

THE SCORE: The Tampa Bay Lightning have reportedly opened contract extension talks with head coach Jon Cooper. The club recently re-signed general manager Julien BriseBois.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper could become the NHL’s highest-paid coach after guiding the Lightning to consecutive Stanley Cup titles.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov missed yesterday’s practice with a lower-body injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed checking-line forward Jake Evans to a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.7 million.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks goalie Adin Hill left practice yesterday favoring his left wrist. His participation in today’s preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks is in doubt.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

98 percent of NHL players expected to be vaccinated for the coming season, Sidney Crosby hopes Alex Ovechkin breaks Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, plus the latest on Evander Kane, Carey Price, P.K. Subban and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly estimates 98 percent of players will be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the 2021-22 season opens on Oct. 12. That will leave between 10 and 15 players unvaccinated among 700 players on 32 teams.

The NHL and NHL Players Association didn’t impose a vaccine mandate on players, but restrictions (including restrictions at the Canada – US border requiring lengthy quarantine) contributed to the high number of vaccinations. Teams can also suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of its protocols.

Fully vaccinated players will have any positive COVID-19 tests treated as hockey injuries and continue to be paid. Unvaccinated players will have their movements restricted during road trips. Regular COVID testing will remain in place for vaccinated players. Coaches and staff must be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Daly confirmed that teams who suspend players without pay under the terms of the league’s COVID protocols will receive salary-cap relief from that player’s daily salary-cap hit.

Unvaccinated players can be ruled exempt from suspension if they have legitimate medical reasons for avoiding vaccination or if it conflicts with “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Johnston also reported at least one Caucks remains unvaccinated but the team declined to comment citing medical privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL isn’t fooling around with its protocols this season after a number of game postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks over the course of last season led to a series of scheduling changes. It took a physical toll on the players as they endured multiple games within a much more compressed period of time.

Unvaccinated players will have a more difficult time navigating through those strict protocols this season. Those restrictions could encourage the remainder who lack medical exemption to get vaccinated. The risk of suspension without pay for a positive test is too great over the course of the season.

SPORTSNET: Daly indicated the salary cap for the 2022-23 season is expected to increase by $1 million to $82.5 million.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has the support of a long-time rival in his quest to break Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he told Ovechkin he hopes he does it. “It would be awesome. He’s in range, “ said Crosby. “He can score anywhere from insider the blue line.”

Crosby added one caveat. “I just hope that all his goals that he gets are against the other teams as he’s trying to add toward it.” Gretzky has 894 goals while Ovechkin sits at 730 to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s legacy is secure as this generation’s greatest goal scorer and one of the all-time greats. Most of Gretzky’s records are out of reach of today’s players, so the opportunity for the Capitals superstar to break the goal record would be a phenomenal achievement.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Evander Kane remains confident that the league will clear him of allegations by his estranged wife that he gambled on NHL games. In an interview with ESPN’s Linda Cohn, the San Jose Sharks winger called the allegations “incredibly false”, claiming he’s never bet on any NHL games or intentionally altered the way he plays.

The NHL opened an investigation into the allegations in July. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he anticipates it will wrap up soon and to have a full report by the start of training camp.

Kane admitted he has a gambling addiction which led to his filing for bankruptcy in July. He also downplayed reports claiming some of his Sharks teammates don’t want him back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz believes it’s what’s Kane didn’t say during the interview that’s newsworthy. “This was a missed opportunity for him to signal to his teammates/organization that he’s ready to come back, change his ways, and be a solid teammate. Instead, nothing’s changed.”

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took to the ice yesterday in full equipment with a member of the team’s training staff. It’s believed the first time he’s skated since undergoing knee surgery in July. He spent 10 minutes on the ice doing stretching and skating drills.

TORONTO STAR: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is an executive producer on an upcoming docuseries entitled, “Black Life: A Canadian History.”

THE ATHLETIC: Andrew Ladd is looking forward to the opportunity to play in the NHL again. He was traded this summer to the Arizona Coyotes by the New York Islanders. He played just 30 NHL games over the past three seasons with the Islanders.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres will face off in the 2022 Heritage Classic on March 13 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

THE SCORE: Two suspects were arrested in the robbery of a St. Louis Blues prospect and a woman on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. The name of the prospect has not been released.