NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 5, 2021
Start times for the upcoming season released, former Oilers coach John Muckler passes away and updates on Alex Ovechkin, Brad Marchand, Gabriel Landeskog, Joe Pavelski, Sergei Bobrovsky and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines,
NHL.COM: The league officially announced start times for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The schedule opens on Jan. 13 with five games on the slate. The Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the Philadelphia Flyers at 5: 30 pm ET, the Montreal Canadiens tangle with the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 pm ET, the Chicago Blackhawks meet the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning at 8 pm ET, the Vancouver Canucks square off with the Edmonton Oilers at 10 pm ET, followed by the St. Louis Blues meeting the Colorado Avalanche at 10:30 pm ET.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers coach John Muckler passed away Monday at age 86. Muckler was assistant and associate coach during the Oilers’ first four Stanley Cup runs and was head coach during their fifth and final championship in 1990.
Before joining the Oilers, Muckler did stints in various positions with the Minnesota North Stars, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers. After leaving the Oilers in 1991, he served as head of hockey operations and head coach with the Buffalo Sabres, went on to become head coach of the Rangers, followed by becoming general manager of the Ottawa Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Muckler had a long, distinguished career in the NHL. My condolences to his family, friends, former associates and players, and the Oilers organization.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Contract talks between the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin have yet to begin but the superstar winger isn’t concerned. He pointed out there’s no rush and plenty of time to get a deal done. The Capitals captain is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. “Whatever is done is done. If it’s not done, we’re gonna talk and we’ll see,” said Ovechkin, who is acting as his own agent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin wants to stay in Washington and the Capitals want to keep him. Unless his salary demands become exorbitant, I expect they’ll reach an agreement that keeps both sides happy.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Brad Marchand is hoping to be ready in time for the club’s season-opener on Jan. 14. He underwent sports hernia surgery on Sept. 14 and the recovery period was expected to be four months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting one of their two sidelined top-line forwards back for the start of the season (or soon afterward) will provide a big boost to the Bruins’ offense. David Pastrnak is also on the shelf (hip surgery) and isn’t expected to return until sometime in February.
NHL.COM: Gabriel Landeskog is among several members of the Colorado Avalanche to miss the first day of on-ice activities. Winger Brandon Saad, defenseman Erik Johnson and goaltender Philipp Grubauer joined the Avs captain on the sidelines. All were listed as “unfit to play” with no timetable as to when they’re return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under league guidelines, teams are not allowed to comment if players are sidelined during training camp due to COVID-19 testing or contract tracing. However, the league will announce if players test positive during the regular season.
This could be a testing issue in which they received false positives and have to be re-tested again. This was commonplace among several NHL teams during the 2020 playoffs. We’ll learn more about their status as the week progresses.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars center Joe Pavelski is listed as day-to-day pending further results from medicals. Meanwhile, immigration issues has delayed goaltender Anton Khudobin’s efforts to report to training camp. He’s fulfilling his mandatory seven-day quarantine and it’s expected he’ll be on the ice at some point during training camp.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Sergei Bobrovsky and Patric Hornqvist were among several Florida Panthers declared “unfit to play” yesterday.
TSN: Mathew Barzal is at New York Islanders training camp and underwent his team physical. However, the young center remains without a contract and cannot practice with his teammates until he’s signed.
TWINCITIES.COM: Winger Kevin Fiala missed on-ice practice yesterday for precautionary reasons. He returned to the ice after practice to skate with assistant coaches Brett McLean and Darby Hendrickson.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: James Neal and Dominik Kahun are among four Oilers declared unfit to play yesterday.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom is in quarantine for seven days after coming in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
CBS SPORTS: The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Zack Smith on waivers.
SPORTSNET: The Winnipeg Jets placed forward Marko Dano on waivers.
TSN: The province of Quebec is the third province to approve NHL games this season in Canada. Manitoba and Ontario have yet to make a final announcement, though Manitoba is showing support for the league’s plan.
THE AHL: 28 teams will participate in the AHL’s 2020-21 schedule.
The NHL will not introduce a blanket quarantine period for players recalled from the American Hockey League this season. Instead, each case will be judged by its own circumstances.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 5, 2021