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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2021

Sidney Crosby undergoes wrist surgery, Patrice Bergeron discusses his contract situation, the latest on Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby underwent surgery on his left wrist on Wednesday. He’s expected to be sidelined for six weeks and could miss the Penguins’ opening four games of this season. General manager Ron Hextall said Crosby has been dealing with an unspecified ailment in his wrist for several years.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Crosby aggravated the ailment as he was ramping up his training in preparation for the coming season. The Penguins will now be without their top two centers to open the season. Evgeni Malkin is recovering from offseason knee surgery that will sideline him much longer than Crosby.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said his focus is on the upcoming season and not on his contract status. The 36-year-old center is entering the final season of his deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July. He indicated he’ll play out this season and discuss his contract with the Bruins after that.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could make some Bruins fans nervous after seeing long-time stars Zdeno Chara and David Krejci depart over the last two years. Bergeron is no longer in his playing prime but he remains among the league’s best two-way forwards.

Much will depend upon his performance and how much he’ll seek on his next contract. They could be more accommodating to Bergeron given how thin the Bruins are at center.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The NHL’s investigation into allegations San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane bet on his own games has hit a snag. Kane’s estranged wife Anna made the accusations on social media but the league has thus far been unable to interview her. The NHL hoped to have its investigation completed before training camp opened later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The article also reported an examination of betting trends that showed no abnormalities for Sharks games last season. Kane was also the Sharks’ leading scorer in 2020-21.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed center Artem Anisimov to a professional tryout offer.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed unrestricted free agent forward Brad Richardson to a one-year, $800K contract and restricted free agent defenseman Connor Mackey to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $912,500.

Former NHL player J.T. Brown pledged his brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation in Boston. “We need more information about brain injuries and concussions, the kind of information you can get from studying brains after someone has died,” said Brown, adding he loves hockey and hopes to make it safer for future generations.

CBC NEWS: Brandon University scolded former NHLer Theo Fleury for “reprehensible remarks” he made against vaccine passports. The university granted Fleury an honorary doctorate in 2015 but says his espousing of conspiracy theories is a “stain on his legacy”. He recently took to Twitter claiming vaccine passports would make it easier for pedophiles to track children and touted an anti-parasitic medicine commonly used for livestock as an alternative to COVID-19 vaccines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury was one of my favorite players during his NHL career. His work in exposing sexual predators in hockey and as a mental health advocate remains worthy of praise. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see him disappear down this rabbit hole of misinformation.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks scout Patrik Jonsson recently passed away at age 51 of prostate cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Jonsson’s family, friends and the Canucks’ organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2021

Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi signs an offer sheet from the Hurricanes. Check out the details plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Mitch Marner and Gerard Gallant in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi signed a one-year, $6, 100,015 million offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canadiens have seven days to match the offer. If they don’t, the 21-year-old Kotkaniemi joins the Hurricanes and the Habs get the Canes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft as compensation.

The Carolina Hurricanes sign Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet (NHL Images).

The 15 dollars tacked on to the end of the $6.1 million represents Kotkaniemi’s jersey number with the Canadiens. This offer sheet also includes a $20 dollar signing bonus. That number represents Sebastien Aho’s jersey number. The Canadiens attempted to sign him to an offer sheet two years ago but the Hurricanes matched it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ Twitter feed took great delight in trolling the Canadiens once the offer sheet signing was announced. That included issuing a bilingual statement that was almost word-for-word what Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said when he signed Aho to his offer sheet.

The revenge angle and the Hurricanes’ joyful spite provided considerable entertainment for some and annoyance over its pettiness from others. I’m more interested in the effect of this signing upon both clubs.

Kotkaniemi would become the second-highest paid forward on the Canadiens if they match the offer. While he has considerable promise, his play to date isn’t worth $6.1 million. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes the Habs were talking a two-year deal in the $2.5 million per season range. TVASports’ Renaud Lavoie said $2.2 million annually was the highest suggestion he heard of Kotkaniemi’s worth from sources around the league.

This contract would create a salary-cap headache for the Canadiens. Cap Friendly shows them already above the $81.5 million by over $2.2 million. They can exceed the cap by 10 percent ($89.65 million) during the offseason but must be cap-compliant when the season begins. However, they’ll be allowed to go over the cap by $7.857 million if Shea Weber goes on long-term injury reserve as expected for 2021-22 ($89.357 million). They can exceed it by an additional $3.4 million by putting Paul Byron (hip surgery) on LTIR but would have to free up some space once he returns to action in the new year.

Kotkaniemi’s new salary would also affect the Habs cap payroll for 2022-23. It would cost $6.1 million to qualify his rights. That’s assuming, of course, he plays well enough to earn that type of deal.

The Canadiens already have $69.2 million invested in 12 players for next season, with Nick Suzuki, Alexander Romanov and Jake Evans as restricted free agents. They could attempt to negotiate a longer-term deal with Kotkaniemi for less than $6.1 million but it would probably still be well over $5 million annually. They could get over $7.8 million in relief if necessary should Weber wind up on LTIR again, but it would still be a cap complication the Habs don’t need.

Do the Canadiens even want to match? Kotkaniemi signing that offer sheet suggests an unhappiness with his role and his contract talks with the Canadiens. If the Habs don’t match, however, his departure will leave them thin at center following Phillip Danault’s decamping for Los Angeles via free agency. 

The joy of revenge aside for the Hurricanes, this is a bit of gamble for them. The Athletic’s Sara Civian indicates this move puts them over the cap by $1.5 million, but she suggested freeing up cap space by trading defenseman Jake Gardiner or someone claims him off waivers. GM Don Waddell undoubtedly has something in mind to address that issue but it remains to be seen if Gardiner is that solution.

Kotkaniemi’s consistency issues could follow him to Carolina. That would leave the Canes with a $6.1 million mistake on their books (albeit for just one year) plus the loss of two picks in next year’s draft.

They’ll also face the $6.1 million qualifying offer, though Friedman believes this offer sheet was made with the knowledge that Kotkaniemi’s next contract would be long term for less money. However, would it really be worth it if he doesn’t crack their top-six next season or show the potential to do so?

Some are already questioning this move, suggesting Carolina would’ve been better off using that $6.1 million to keep Dougie Hamilton rather than lose him for nothing to free agency. That criticism will grow louder if Kotkaniemi doesn’t play up to his salary for this season.

Other interesting factors could be in play here as we await the Canadiens’ decision. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup. Meanwhile, here’s the rest of today’s notable headlines.

THE ATHLETIC‘s Rob Rossi observes Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is wearing the captain’s “C” on Team Canada’s Winter Olympics’ promotional media.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rossi noted that it hasn’t been confirmed Crosby will be Canada’s captain in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Nevertheless, it’s a safe bet he’ll get that honor.

TORONTO STAR: Damien Cox believes Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner will face intense scrutiny this season following the club’s first-round collapse to Montreal in the 2021 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner bore the brunt of fan and media criticism for his underwhelming postseason play. For the first time, he’ll be facing a much harsher spotlight in Toronto. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Gerard Gallant will bring a physical edge to the New York Rangers in his first season as their head coach. However, Gallant said they’re not plotting revenge on Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson in their season opener. Wilson manhandled Artemi Panarin and now-former Ranger Pavel Buchnevich in a game last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting tougher isn’t a bad thing as long as it’s doesn’t overshadow the club’s skill. If they waste time chasing Wilson it will throw them off their game.










NHL Betting: Connor McDavid Cementing Hart Trophy Race

NHL Betting: Connor McDavid Cementing Hart Trophy Race

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2021

Sidney Crosby set a franchise scoring record and a points-per-game milestone, Zdeno Chara reached a games-played milestone, the Wild clinch a playoff spot, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust each scored their 20th goals of the season as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the New Jersey Devils 4-2. Crosby’s empty-netter late in the game set a franchise record for most 20-goal seasons with 13. He also joined Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe as the only NHL players with 16 point-per-game seasons, sitting fifth on the all-time list in that category. The Penguins sit in second place in the MassMutual East Division with 65 points, one behind the Washington Capitals. The Devils have dropped nine straight games.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara became the fifth defenseman in NHL history to play 1,600 games during his club’s 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Daniel Sprong scored twice and Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who played without captain Alex Ovechkin as he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The Islanders (63 points) sit third behind the Penguins.

Aleksander Barkov’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Florida Panthers as they nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar had a goal and three assists while Carolina blueliner Dougie Hamilton scored twice. The Panthers (67 points) sit one point behind the first-place Hurricanes in the Discover Central Division.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive on Jamie Benn’s overtime goal to edge the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 50 saves in a losing cause. With 52 points, Dallas sits just two behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. Stars defenseman John Klingberg missed the game with an undisclosed injury.

The league-leading Vegas Golden Knights (70 points) picked up their ninth straight victory by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Chandler Stephenson scored twice for the Golden Knights, who opened a four-point lead over the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf left the game following the second period with an upper-body injury.

A hat trick by Ryan O’Reilly rallied the St. Louis Blues past the Colorado Avalanche 5-3. O’Reilly also collected an assist as the Blues (46 points) are one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the West Division. Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche.

The Minnesota Wild became the third team to secure a berth in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs in a 6-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Kevin Fiala and Jared Spurgeon each had a goal and an assist for the Wild (65 points), who moved one point behind the Avalanche. Before the game, the Sharks honored Patrick Marleau for recently setting the NHL all-time games played record.

Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper had a 26-save shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 4-0. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist.

Joe Thornton became the oldest player (41 years, 296 days) in Toronto Maple Leafs’ history to score a goal as his club beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. Toronto sits atop the Scotia North Division with 65 points, eight up on second-place Winnipeg. The Jets played without forward Adam Lowry, who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.

The Calgary Flames moved closer to the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the Scotia North Division by downing the sputtering Habs 5-2. Johnny Gaudreau scored twice as Calgary sits just four points (45 points) sit just four behind Montreal. Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. Canadiens forwards Tomas Tatar and Paul Byron missed the game with lower-body injuries while goaltender Carey Price returned to Montreal for further treatment for a concussion suffered earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames season seemed over three weeks ago after winning just once in nine games. They’ve since won five of their last seven to keep their playoff hopes alive while the floundering Canadiens have won just three of their last 11.

Third-period goals by Tanner Pearson and J.T. Miller lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa goaltender Matt Murray left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Canucks center Elias Pettersson is reportedly doubtful to return this season as he remains sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered on March 2.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

A five-point performance by the Islanders Mathew Barzal, three more Canucks games are postponed by COVID-19 protocols, division stars and rookie of the month for March are announced, Nathan MacKinnon fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mathew Barzal’s hat trick carried the New York Islanders to an 8-4 romp over the Washington Capitals. Barzal finished with five points while teammate Jordan Eberle scored twice. John Carlson tallied twice for the Capitals, who lost goaltender Ilya Samsonov early in the first period following an accidental collision with teammate T.J. Oshie. The Islanders are tied with the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins with 50 points but the Capitals remain in first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of a game in hand.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

The Penguins, meanwhile, rode a 30-save performance by goaltender Casey DeSmith to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh forward Branden Tanev returned to the lineup after missing six games and picked up an assist. The Penguins have won five straight but sit in third place behind the Islanders as the latter has two more regulation wins. Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo left the game with an upper-body injury. The Bruins sit fourth in the vision with 41 points, three ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

Speaking of the Rangers, they edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on an overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Blueshirts while Sabres goalie Dustin Tokarski kicked out 44 shots. The Rangers are tied with the Flyers with 38 points but the latter holds fifth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The East division is getting quite interesting. The Penguins have surged to jockey with the Capitals and Islanders for first place, the Bruins are clinging to fourth place but are being threatened by the Rangers, who could soon surpass the struggling Flyers.

Third-period goals by Ross Colton and Brayden Point 66 seconds apart lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak. Point had two goals on the night while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 36 shots. Zach Werenski had a goal and an assist for the Jackets. With 52 points, the Lightning holds onto first place in the Discover Central Division. The Jackets (36 points) remain in sixth place in the division, three points back of the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.

An overtime goal by Alex Wennberg gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal and collected an assist on Wennberg’s winner. The Panthers also have 52 points but remain in second place in the Central as the Lightning hold a game in hand.

The Carolina Hurricanes got a late goal by Jesper Fast to nip Chicago 4-3 and sit one point behind the Lightning and Panthers. Warren Foegele tallied twice for the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks remain tied with Nashville with 39 points but the latter holds fourth place in the Central on the basis of regulation wins.

As for the Predators, they missed an opportunity to open a lead over the Blackhawks as their six-game win streak ended in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Joe Pavelski collected two assists for the Stars (34 points), who sit five behind the Predators and Blackhawks.

A shootout goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild past the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 3-2. Cam Talbot had a 35-save performance while Kirill Kapizov had a goal and an assist for the Wild (46 points), who moved within four points of second-place Vegas in the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche each have 50 points but the latter holds first place because of regulation wins.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 as Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault each had a goal and an assist. Jake Allen made 23 saves for the Habs, who hold a six-point lead for fourth place over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks with 41 points.

HEADLINES

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the star of the month for March in the Discover Central Division. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer is the Honda West star of the month. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took home the honor for the MassMutual East Division while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the Scotia North Division star for March.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for March 2021.

The Vancouver Canucks have had three additional games postponed as forwards Adam Gaudette and Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette and his wife faced some flak on social media by several folks alleging they failed to properly protect themselves from COVID-19. In fact, the couple followed all guidelines and were informed they did nothing wrong by the team and health officials. The Gaudettes have no idea how they caught the coronavirus and don’t deserve being hounded by some ill-informed fans.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon received a $5,000.00 fine from the NHL department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland on Wednesday.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson received a three-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux requested a trade from the Rangers prior to their dealing him last week to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick. Lemieux made the request as he wanted to play for a team where he’d have a more meaningful role. He’d been seeing fourth-line duty this season with the Rangers.

THE SCORE: Roberto Luongo is expected to be named general manager of Team Canada’s 2021 World Championship team.

SPORTSNET: Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield, Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay and North Dakota forward Shane Pinto are this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Caufield recently signed an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens while Pinto inked a similar deal with the Ottawa Senators.