NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2023
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin believes he and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby “saved the NHL”, the Blackhawks’ Taylor Hall is done for the season while the club is silent over Corey Perry’s absence. Details on these and other stories and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NOTE: There were no NHL games on Thursday due to the American Thanksgiving holiday. Action resumes on Friday with 15 games.
THE ATHLETIC: Reflecting on his long NHL career, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin believes he and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby saved the league as it emerged from a season-killing lockout.
“We saved the NHL,” said Ovechkin. He noted that today’s generation of superstars hasn’t yet overshadowed his accomplishments and those of his longtime rival Crosby.
“We saved the league. Now they come in and I guess we’re old news,” said Ovechkin. “But we saved it. It’s up to those guys to come in and prove me wrong that we’re not the best.”
Crosby’s response was more understated. “Hopefully, we’re still a little bit away from being pushed out of the way,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL was in a bad place entering the 2005-06 season. Fans and pundits were disgusted by the lockout that cost an entire season. The league no longer had a national US cable TV contract with ESPN. Wayne Gretzky, hockey’s greatest star, was long retired. His rival, Mario Lemieux, lasted just 26 games into the ’05-’06 campaign before retiring for the second and final time.
Ovechkin and Crosby entered the NHL at the same time that season, sparking a rivalry as they quickly became the league’s biggest stars. They helped the NHL not only recover but thrive and grow, adding two new clubs since 2017, returning to ESPN two years ago, setting an attendance record last season (22.4 million), and tapping into other lucrative new revenue streams.
Now in the twilight of their careers, Ovechkin and Crosby aren’t playing at the dominating level of their playing prime but they’re still among the league’s best. Ovechkin’s 42 goals last season were among the league’s top 10 as he continues his chase of Gretzky’s goal record. Meanwhile, Crosby was among the top 20 in points with 93. While younger stars are now outperforming them, the duo remains the NHL’s most recognizable stars.
CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Blackhawks winger Taylor Hall will miss the remainder of this season as he undergoes surgery on his right knee.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall played just 10 games this season with two goals and four points. He has one season remaining on his contract and will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2025.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Speaking of the Blackhawks, they’re keeping silent as to why winger Corey Perry was a healthy scratch and Wednesday and his absence from Thursday’s practice. Head coach Luke Richardson said the reason was an internal decision for now and wouldn’t answer any more questions about the matter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks are getting scolded in some corners of social media for their lack of transparency. Here’s hoping Perry’s absence isn’t anything serious.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed defenseman John Klingberg on long-term injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. The move allows them to activate blueliner Conor Timmins off LTIR. Klingberg underwent double hip surgery in 2014 and there’s speculation he’s hindered by the same issue. It’s unclear if he’ll return to action this season.
SPECTOR’S NOT: The Leafs will have over $3.375 million in trade deadline cap space if Klingberg is indeed done for the season.
CBS SPORTS: The Tampa Bay Lightning placed goaltender Matt Tomkins on waivers as starter Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to return to action on Friday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPORTSNET’S Greg Balloch shared an announcement from Vaughn Custom Sports that former NHL goaltender Andy Moog has been diagnosed with cancer. Moog asked them to share the news with the hockey community.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moog played 713 regular-season games with the Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens from 1980-81 to 1997-98, winning 372 games as well as three Stanley Cups with the Oilers and the Jennings Trophy with the Bruins in 1989-90. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.