The Jets keep their playoff hopes alive, Evgeni Malkin is suspended, Drew Doughty is done for the season, the three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets got third-period goals from Evgeny Svechnikov and Adam Lowry to double up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 in the only game on Monday’s schedule. Jets forward Paul Stastny reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time since 2013-14. With the win, the Jets (81 points) move to within five points of the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference playoff berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rookie Morgan Barron collected his first two points since joining the Jets at last month’s trade deadline from the New York Rangers in the Andrew Copp deal. Meanwhile, his younger brother Justin missed his third straight game with the Montreal Canadiens with a suspected broken right ankle that could finish his season. Like his older brother, the younger Barron was also traded on deadline day. The Canadiens acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche in the Artturi Lehkonen trade.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The NHL department of player safety handed down a four-game suspension to Penguins center Evgeni Malkin for his “retaliatory and aggressive” crosscheck on Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki on Sunday. It’s the second time in Malkin’s NHL career that he’s been suspended for a stick infraction.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp in September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty is the Kings’ top defenseman. His absence could cripple their efforts to secure their first playoff berth since 2017-18. The Kings are clinging to third place in the Pacific Division with 86 points, two points ahead of the surging Vegas Golden Knights.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 10.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has not yet returned to on-ice activities in his recovery from knee surgery. However, he’s still expected to return to action when the playoffs begin in early May.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin (knee injury) has resumed solo skating but there’s still no timetable for his return to the lineup. Leafs winger Ondrej Kase remains sidelined with a concussion.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Torey Krug could return to the lineup tonight against his former club, the Boston Bruins. He’s missed the last 10 games with an upper-body injury.
MLIVE.COM: Sam Gagner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but hopes to return with the Detroit Red Wings next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings reportedly appreciate the 32-year-old Gagner’s experience, leadership and two-way skills. He’s on a one-year, $850K contract and should be an affordable re-signing if they wish to bring him back next season.
THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reports sources indicate Dallas Eakins will return next season as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.
Drew Doughty, Quinton Byfield and Aleksander Barkov celebrate milestones, Oilers sign Evander Kane, an update on the Coyotes search for a temporary home, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty collected an assist in his 1,000th game while teammate Quinton Byfield tallied his first NHL goal in a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Adrian Kempe tallied the winner as the Kings held off the Isles late in the third period. The Kings sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 50 points.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty, 32, has spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Kings, winning two Stanley Cups and the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in 2015-16. He has 22 points in 25 games this season. Byfield, meanwhile, was the second-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The 19-year-old center appeared in six games last season and four this season.
Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov scored his 200th career goal and 500th career point to lead his club over the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Sam Bennett scored twice and Spencer Knight made 24 saves for the win as the Panthers regained first place in the overall standings with 65 points. The Golden Knights sit on top of the Pacific Division with 53 points.
Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras scored twice, including a lacrosse-style goal as his club held off the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Troy Terry had a goal and two assists as the Ducks moved to within one point of the Golden Knights in the Pacific.
J.T. Miller had a hat trick and collected an assist to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists while goalie Spencer Martin made 33 saves for his first NHL win. With 43 points, the Canucks moved two points ahead of the slumping Jets and sit three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Tampa Bay Lightning downed the New Jersey Devils 3-2 to remain two points behind the Panthers in the overall standings. Anthony Cirelli snapped a 2-2 tie and Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 31 shots for the Lightning. Jesper Bratt collected assists on both Devils’ goals.
A shootout goal by Andrei Svechnikov lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Nino Niederreiter tied the game for the Hurricanes in the third period. They’re tied with the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins with 60 points but sit first in the Metropolitan Division. Senators center Josh Norris left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are already without leading scorer Drake Batherson for perhaps the remainder of the season with a high-ankle sprain. They also signed defenseman Nick Holden yesterday to a one-year, $1.3 million contract extension.
The Seattle Kraken picked up their first overtime win in franchise history by nipping the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Jared McCann tied the game in the third period for the Kraken, setting the stage for Adam Larsson’s winning goal. Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins.
Columbus Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner scored twice and picked up an assist to lead his club to a 5-3 upset of the New York Rangers. Sean Kuraly also scored twice for the Jackets while Joonas Korpisalo stopped 33 shots for the win. Artemi Panarin scored and picked up two assists for the Rangers while teammate Adam Fox is listed as day-to-day after leaving the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.
St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso made 28 saves backstopping his club over the Calgary Flames 5-1. Husso is 6-0-0 in January while Brandon Saad scored two goals and picked up an assist. The Blues (57 points) sit one point behind the second-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.
Connor McDavid scored in a shootout to give the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. McDavid also scored in regulation while Predators winger Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist. With 44 points, the Oilers are two back of the Flames.
SPORTSNET: The Oilers signed Evander Kane to a one-year contract after the NHL said its investigation into whether the winger breached COVID-19 protocols produced insufficient evidence to conclude he knowingly violated those protocols. Terms were not revealed but Elliotte Friedman reported it was worth $750K in base salary with a $625K signing bonus plus a no-movement clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager Ken Holland seems to believe adding a goal scorer carrying tons of personal baggage will help this struggling club overcome its shaky goaltending. It smacks of desperation by a GM who failed to suitably address his issues in the crease last summer and is now grasping at straws to save his season.
THE SCORE: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was diagnosed with a broken nose following his collision with Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall on Wednesday. A clearer timeline for his recovery remains to be determined.
TRIBLIVE.COM: cites a report by Daily Faceoff indicating Pittsburgh Penguins forward Drew O’Connor is dealing with a collapsed lung suffered during the club’s recent road trip. Neither the Penguins or O’Connor’s agent is confirming the report.
CBJ PUBLIC RELATIONS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier is expected to miss four weeks after fracturing a finger during Wednesday’s game against the Flames.
GOPHNX.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly in advanced discussions with Arizona State University to use the school’s new multi-purpose arena as their temporary home for the next three seasons while they await approval and construction of a new arena in Tempe. The facility seats just 5,000 people. The Coyotes lease at the Gila River Arena has been terminated at the end of this season by the city of Glendale.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is being done with the NHL’s blessing. The league is determined to maintain a franchise in the lucrative Arizona market.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers will be retiring Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a ceremony before tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars will retire Sergei Zubov’s No 56 before tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to both players for their upcoming honours. Lundqvist was one of the greatest players in the Rangers’ long history while Zubov was a key player in the Stars rise to NHL dominance in the late-90s and early-2000s.
THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been charged with sexual assault by Vancouver police stemming from a 2017 allegation. He’s currently playing in the KHL but is expected to make his first provincial court appearance on Feb. 10.
Kyle Beach identified himself as one of the victims in the Blackhawks’ scandal, the ongoing fallout from the investigation, plus game recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
KYLE BEACH STEPS FORWARD AS ACCUSER IN BLACKHAWKS SCANDAL
TSN: Former Chicago Blackhawks player Kyle Beach stepped forward as the player at the center of the investigation into allegations of sexual assault by former video coach Bradley Aldrich.
Kyle Beach (right) speaks with Rick Westhead (TSN.CA).
In an emotional 25-minute interview with Rick Westhead, Beach expressed relief and vindication that “it was no longer my word against everybody else’s,” adding it was “very special and important to me to have that truth come out yesterday”.
Beach recalled what happened to him after the abuse by Aldrich, the Blackhawks’ organization’s efforts to cover up the incident and its subsequent denials. “They said they did an investigation, they said my claims were meritless. To me, I took that as them saying to the world that I was a liar, that I was lying,” said Beach.
He singled out the role of then-head coach Joel Quenneville in the club’s handling of the incident. Quenneville said in a statement this summer that he has no prior knowledge of Beach’s claims at the time until he heard about it through the media.
Multiple players with the Blackhawks at that time also subsequently made the same claim. “I believe everyone in the locker room knew about it,” said Beach.
He also voiced his disappointment over the NHLPA’s lack of action when he informed them of the details. He believed two different people spoke with PA director Donald Fehr. “And for him to turn his back on the players when his one job is to protect the players at all cost, I don’t know how that can be your leader,” he said.
Beach said he stepped forward in part because, while the report referred to him as “John Doe”, the details made it possible to figure out his identity. He indicated it was also part of his recovery as a survivor of sexual assault. He also wants to bring about change within the NHL to assure this never happens again.
“The NHL has let me down and they’ve let other down too. And they continue to try to protect their name,” said Beach. “I hope through and through that (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman takes this seriously and that he does his due diligence.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve noted what I felt were key highlights from Beach’s interview. I encourage everyone to follow the above link for the video interview and the full transcript.
Beach was very brave to come forward with his story. It was heartbreaking watching him recount what happened, at one point breaking down in tears and expressing sorrow for not doing more to protect Aldrich’s subsequent victim. He did nothing wrong and yet he still felt remorse that he didn’t do more.
Kyle Beach was failed by the Blackhawks at every level. Only a handful of people, including former teammates Nick Boynton and Brent Sopel, former associate coach John Torchetti and former skills coach Paul Vincent, stood by him. He endured over 11 years of trauma before finally receiving a measure of justice. Everyone involved in make his life hell for over a decade bear full responsibility for what they didn’t do to help him and for what they did to cover it up.
The release of the investigation’s findings and Beach’s interview are not the end of this story. The repercussions are ongoing and will be long-lasting, leading hopefully to positive change that ensures no player ever faces what Beach did.
TSN: The Blackhawks released a statement following Beach’s interview expressing “deepest apologies” for what he went through and the organization’s failure to properly respond when he brought the matter to light. The statement laid the blame on former team executives.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Apologies and buck-passing don’t cut it. Try again.
NHLPA director Donald Fehr also issued an apology to Beach, acknowledging his courage in telling his story and admitting the system (of which the PA is a part) failed him. Fehr indicated the person Beach spoke with at the NHLPA was one of the program doctors in the player assistance program. While confidential between players and doctors, Fehr said the “grave nature of this incident should have resulted in further action on our part.” He also said the PA is committed to making changes to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Action speaks louder than words, Mr. Fehr.
Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews told reporters last night they wished they knew more about what happened to Beach so they could’ve done more to help him. They said they didn’t he was the John Doe in the investigation until he came forward yesterday. Kane commended Beach for his courage in telling his story while Toews said he didn’t know about the allegations until training camp in 2010-11.
Both players also commented on Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman stepping down and senior VP of hockey operations Al MacIsaac being relieved of his duties. Kane considered it “necessary” and “the right moves” but also called Bowman “a great man who did a lot of things for me personally”. Toews felt they weren’t directly responsible for what happened and still had a lot of respect for them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus said in response to those remarks, I get why Kane and Toews are remaining loyal to those who played a big role in their lives and careers but heaping praise on those two isn’t a great look.
Former Blackhawks head coach and current Florida Panthers bench boss Joel Quenneville stood by his statement to investigators that he first learned of the allegations through the media this summer. He’s slated to meet with commissioner Bettman in New York today. Quenneville was behind the bench for the Panthers’ 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins last night and didn’t speak to the media following the game.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports Jets ownership is supporting general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who will be meeting with Bettman in New York on Monday. Cheveldayoff was the Blackhawks assistant general manager in 2010 and was named in the report as part of the group of Blackhawks executives who met to discuss the allegations in May 2010.
In his statement, Cheveldayoff said he was first made aware of the allegations during that meeting. He believed a decision was reached by his superiors to have the hockey operations people deal with the on-ice production while they would handle the Aldrich allegations.
McIntyre reports Jets chairman and co-owner Mark Chipman will travel to New York with Cheveldayoff on Monday. Short of new evidence emerging or Bettman lowering the boom, McIntyre expected Cheveldayoff will keep his job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know what Bettman has in store for Quenneville and Cheveldayoff. Many on social media are calling for their firings or at least suspension.
NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers extended their record to 7-0-0 by defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves for the win while Gustav Forsling collected three assists.
Cam Atkinson scored two goals and Carter Hart kicked out 34 shots as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-3, snapping the latter’s five-game season-opening win streak. Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers.
Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin tallied in overtime as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied for the Capitals.
The Toronto Maple Leafs also rallied from 2-0 to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. William Nylander scored in overtime for the Leafs. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews came out of COVID-19 protocol yesterday and played in this game.
An overtime goal by Evgenii Dadonov lifted the Vega Golden Knights to a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Jonathan Marchessault scored late in the third for Vegas to send the game into the extra frame.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov is expected to miss the next eight-to-10 weeks following surgery for a lower-body injury.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty will miss the next two months with a bruised knee while Sean Walker suffered season-ending ligament tears in his right knee that will require surgery.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler has returned to practice after 10 days in isolation as per NHL COVID protocols.
NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban received a $5,000.00 fine by the department of player safety for a dangerous trip against Calgary Flames winger Milan Lucic on Tuesday.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin is expected to be named GM of the USA Men’s Olympic Hockey Team at the 2022 Beijing Games.
Another multi-point game for Connor McDavid, the Sharks are unbeaten in four straight, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid collected two assists while Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each scored twice to give the Edmonton Oilers a 5-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Oilers captain has a league-leading 13 points in five games. Only Wayne Gretzky had more points (15) in franchise history over the same period to start a season. The Oilers sit atop the overall standings with a 5-0-0 record while the Golden Knights are 1-3-0.
The San Jose Sharks pushed their season-opening win streak to four games (4-0-0) by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. Logan Couture scored two goals and set up another while goalie Adin Hill made 30 saves for his third straight victory. The Leafs are 2-2-1 in their first five.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks general manager Doug Wilson entered this season on the hot seat as his club missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. He was also criticized for his handling of Evander Kane’s off-ice issues. The Sharks will eventually lose some games but building on this impressive start will reduce the heat on Wilson.
A 35-save performance by Linus Ullmark backstopped the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, handing the latter their first loss of the season (3-1-0). Charlie Coyle had a goal and two assists while Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand chipped in two points. This was Ullmark’s first game against his former club.
An overtime goal by Denis Gurianov lifted the Dallas Stars over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Miro Heiskanen had a goal and two assists for the Stars. Kings captain Anze Kopitar tallied his sixth goal of the season and has scored in all four of his club’s games. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty left the game in the second period following a knee-on-knee hit by Stars blueliner Jani Hakanpaa, who received a five-minute major and game misconduct for kneeing. Doughty’s status remains unknown.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hakanpaa could receive supplemental discipline for what was a dirty hit on Doughty, who could end up missing significant time as a result.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones will be sidelined between four and six months after suffering a torn pectoral tendon during Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry was removed from COVID protocol yesterday and rejoined his teammates in practice. Jarry had received a false positive test on Thursday.
SPORTSNET: Winger Alex Barre-Boulet was reclaimed off waiver by the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday. He was originally claimed by the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 11 and saw action in two games with them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I look forward to his video tribute by the Kraken the next time those two clubs meet.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the NHL and its team of medical experts are currently debating the merits of testing asymptomatic players. This comes after several players, including Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifle and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jeff Carter missed games due to a positive COVID-19 test despite being asymptomatic. That’s led to growing frustration among players and general managers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli speculates this could lead to changes to the protocol only to test players and team staff who show symptoms of COVID-19. However, he notes even the experts have split opinions on the matter.
The league and the NHLPA will meet on Nov. 1 to review the protocol. Given the 99.5 percent vaccination rate among players and staff and the strict rules on social distancing, it wouldn’t be surprising if the testing rules become adjusted.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (NHL Images).
Doughty acknowledged the club’s been rebuilding but feels they have the salary-cap space to make some big moves. “There’s no point in just waiting for these prospects to develop when you’ve got guys in their prime, hungry to win, and sick of losing,” he said. When asked if he’d be happy if big moves aren’t made, Doughty simply replied, “No.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings general manager Rob Blake has patiently built up his roster with promising youngsters but his veteran core wants to return to playoff contention and a shot at winning the Stanley Cup again.
Doughty has six more seasons left on his contract with an annual average value of $11 million. Kopitar has three more at $10 million annually, Quick has two years at $5.8 million and Brown one year at $5.875 million. Blake could trade one or two of those players but their age or hefty contracts would be difficult to move.
Cap Friendly shows the Kings with over $20 million in cap space for 2021-22 with all their core players under contract. There’s room to make a big offseason move to accelerate the rebuild. That’s why the Kings have been linked to Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel in recent trade rumors.
We’ll have to wait and see what Blake has in store for his roster this summer. If he sticks with his current plan, however, he’ll have an unhappy No. 1 defenseman on his hands. And that will raise questions about Doughty’s future in Los Angeles.
LATEST ON THE CANUCKS AND SENATORS
THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance included reallocating salary-cap space among his list of offseason priorities for the Vancouver Canucks. Once restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes are re-signed, there won’t be enough cap room to rebuild the blueline, upgrade their bottom-six forwards and add a top-six winger.
They could get some relief if the Seattle Kraken select goalie Braden Holtby (4.3 million) in this summer’s expansion draft. A contract buyout or two is possible. Drance also proposed bundling a future asset to move an additional contract or attempt to move Micheal Ferland’s contract to a cap-strapped team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have over $65 million tied up in 15 players. Most of that will be used up signing Pettersson and Hughes.
GM Jim Benning could be squeezed by the Kraken for a draft pick to take Holtby off his hands. Ferland and Jay Beagle could start next season on long-term injury reserve. However, it would be less complicated if one or both could be shipped to teams better equipped than the Canucks to carry those contracts. Those moves also mean including a draft pick, prospect or young NHL-ready player into the deal.
Benning attempted to trade disappointing winger Jake Virtanen this season but couldn’t find any takers. His $3.4 million in actual salary for next season combined with his recent off-ice issues could give Benning little choice but to buy out Virtanen.
THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes includes the acquisition of a top-four defenseman among his suggested offseason priorities for the Ottawa Senators. He feels they need a veteran blueliner who can log over 20 minutes per game.
Mendes proposed targeting teams with expansion draft protection issues or those with salary-cap issues in the trade market. They could also go the free-agent route.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the Senators want to add another center and perhaps a top-four defenseman. GM Pierre Dorion could attempt to address those needs from within but could shop around first.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators have over $53 million invested in 17 players with Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson as their notable free agents. They’ll have plenty of salary cap room once those two are re-signed, but that depends on how close to the $81.5 million cap owner Eugene Melnyk is willing to spend.