NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2021

Alex Ovechkin moves up again on the all-time goal-scoring list, Jack Eichel undergoes surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tallied his 742nd career NHL goal while Conor Sheary scored the game-winner late in the third period as the Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Ovechkin overtook Brett Hull to move into fourth place on the all-time goal-scoring list. Garnet Hathaway netted two goals for the Capitals while Sean Kuraly replied for the Jackets with two goals.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now sits 24 goals behind Jaromir Jagr for third place. At his current rate of production (12 goals in 14 games), the Capitals captain could surpass Jagr by mid-January.

The Buffalo Sabres upset the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 thanks to two goals by Dylan Cozens and a 33-save performance by Dustin Tokarski. Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl tallied twice to lead the league with 14 goals and 28 points while teammate Connor McDavid collected an assist to extend his season-opening points streak to 13 games. The Sabres improve their record to 6-5-2.

An overtime goal by Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. William Nylander set up both goals by the Leafs, who’ve won seven of their last eight contests. The Flames are winless (0-2-1) in their last three games.

Carter Hart turned aside 39 shots to backstop the Philadelphia Flyers over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Joel Farabee and Zack MacEwen netted third-period goals to give the Flyers the win.

The Chicago Blackhawks have three straight wins under interim head coach Derek King as they nipped the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Dylan Strome’s game-winner in the third period. Patrick Kane collected two assists as the Blackhawks improve their record to 4-9-2. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have just one victory (1-12-1) thus far.

HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel underwent successful artificial disk replacement surgery in Denver on Friday. He’s expected to spend three weeks in Denver recovering before returning to Las Vegas for the remainder of his expected three-month rehab.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators will play the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Kanata and the Calgary Flames on Sunday despite their COVID-depleted roster. Nine Senators are currently on the COVID protocol list.

The league instructed the club to cancel practice for the third time this week on Friday to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Senators had hoped to convince the NHL to postpone several games until some of the players are well enough to return to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to the report, the league sympathizes with the Senators’ plight but hopes to avoid rescheduling games until the club has almost no more players left to recall from their AHL affiliate.

While I understand the league’s reluctance to face rescheduling games as they did last season, they’re not doing the Senators any favors here by forcing them to ice a significantly depleted lineup. There’s also the risk of spreading the virus among themselves or their opponents. The good news (so far) is no other players have tested positive since Thursday.

Speaking of the Senators, defenseman Erik Brannstrom will be sidelined for up to eight weeks with a broken hand suffered during Thursday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

SPORTSNET: Seven San Jose Sharks players (Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Kevin Lebanc, Jake Middleton, Matt Nieto and Radim Simek) and head coach Bob Boughner have returned to the active roster since being placed in COVID protocol on Oct. 30.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Karlsson, Middleton and Boughner described how their contracting COVID-19 affected their families. They were among the first of five others on the club to recently test positive for the coronavirus.

Karlsson said his wife and two-year-old daughter also tested positive. While his daughter is doing well, his wife is still dealing with symptoms. Middleton, meanwhile, had to put his girlfriend and their dog into a hotel during the 10 days he was in COVID protocol. Boughner’s parents were visiting when he got his positive test. He immediately quarantined himself into a hotel while his parents returned to Canada safe and sound.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicated the Sharks organization is fully vaccinated. Neither Karlsson, Middleton or Boughner know where or when they were exposed to COVID.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman for two games for high-sticking Colorado Avalanche forward Kiefer Sherwood on Thursday.

TSN: Braydon Coburn announced his retirement yesterday after 16 NHL seasons. The 37-year-old defenseman tallied 234 points in 983 games with the Atlanta Thrashers, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders. He won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Coburn and his family in their future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 12, 2021

Leon Draisaitl powers the Oilers to a comeback win, the Kings and Ducks extend their winning streaks, the Blue Jackets set to honor Rick Nash and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl scored twice in the third period as the Edmonton Oilers overcame a 3-2 deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins 5-3. Draisaitl leads all NHL scorers with 12 goals and also collected an assist. Teammate Connor McDavid collected an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games. David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron each had two points for the Bruins.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 26 points, Draisaitl sits two points ahead of McDavid atop the NHL scoring race.

A 34-save shutout performance by Jonathan Quick carried the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. Anze Kopitar and Andreas Athanasiou were the goal scorers as the Kings (8-5-1) extended their win streak to seven games. The Senators have nine players on the COVID protocol list, including Matt Murray, Alex Formenton and Nikita Zaitsev going on the list yesterday. Sens defenseman Artem Zub left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could be the last game the Senators play for a while if more of their players end up on the COVID list over the next couple of days. The league is monitoring their situation closely and could postpone several upcoming games.

Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry scored twice and collected an assist to extend his points streak to 13 games in a 7-4 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Ryan Getzlaf collected two assists as the Ducks (8-4-3) have won six in a row. Jared McCann tallied twice for the slumping Kraken (4-9-1), who’ve dropped three straight games.

Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists while defensemen Cale Makar, Devon Toews and Samuel Girard each had two points as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-1. The Avs scored three times in the first period and another three in the second to put the game out of reach. Colorado blueliner Bowen Byram left the game in the first period after taking an elbow to the face from Canucks center Bo Horvat. Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman was ejected in the third period for swinging his stick at the head of Avs forward Kiefer Sherwood.

The New Jersey Devils blanked the New York Islanders 4-0 with goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood kicking out 42 shots for the shutout. Dougie Hamilton led the way with a goal and an assist.

Zach Fucale made 21 saves to become the first goalie in Washington Capitals history to notch a shutout in his first NHL game in a 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Dmitry Orlov and Lars Eller were the goal scorers. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected an assist but remains tied with Brett Hull for fourth place on the all-time goal-scoring list with 741.

Shootout goals by Bryan Rust and Jeff Carter gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Tristan Jarry got the win by stopping 36 shots. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov scored to extend his points streak to eight games. After getting off to a 10-0-1 start, the Panthers are 0-2-1 in their last three contests.

Matt Duchene tallied two goals, including the game-winner to lead the Nashville Predators over the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Mikhail Granlund collected four assists for the Predators while Jordan Kyrou scored twice for the Blues.

The Winnipeg Jets tallied four straight goals to beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist while Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 26 shots for the win.

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit made 24 saves as his club held on for a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, snapping the latter’s four-game win streak. Golden Knights forwards Paul Cotter and Jonas Rondbjerg each scored their first-ever NHL goals.

Nick Suzuki snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Calgary Flames 4-2 to end the latter’s five-game road winning streak. Suzuki and Brendan Gallagher each had a goal and an assist.

HEADLINES

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Rick Nash will become the first player in Blue Jackets history to have his number retired in an on-ice ceremony before their March 5, 2022 game against the Boston Bruins. The first-overall pick by the Blue Jackets in 2002, Nash is their franchise leader in games played (674), goals (289), assists (258) and points (547).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash deserves that honor. He was a true franchise player but the Jackets management wasted most of his nine-season tenure in Columbus by failing to build a solid supporting cast around him.

SPORTSNET: Lawyers representing the Chicago Blackhawks sent a letter to Kyle Beach’s attorney requesting mediation in their lawsuit settlement negotiations. In the letter, the club’s lawyers called Beach’s initial demand “extraordinary”. Beach’s lawyer replied the Blackhawks did not make a counteroffer. The former player is suing the team over its handling of his allegations of sexual assault against former video coach Bradley Aldrich.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers goaltender Mike Smith has suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury suffered 23 days ago. He’s unlikely to rejoin the club for the remainder of their current road trip.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety fined Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Anthony DeAngelo $2,000.00 for diving and embellishment in a recent game against the Florida Panthers.

The Arizona Coyotes announced assistant coach Phil Housley has been placed on the COVID protocol list.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski cites a source saying the NHL is in talks with Las Vegas officials about staging two new skills competition events outdoors on the Las Vegas Strip during the 2022 All-Star weekend (Feb. 4-5, 2022).










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2021

Alex Ovechkin ties Brett Hull for fourth on the all-time goal-scoring list, the Rangers hand the Panthers their first regulation loss, the Kings down the Leafs, the stars of the week are revealed & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 741st career goal in a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Ovechkin moves into a tie with Brett Hull for fourth place on the all-time goal-scoring list. He also collected two assists in this contest while Tom Wilson scored twice and Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists. The Sabres (5-5-2) have gone 0-4-1 in their last five games.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The New York Rangers handed the Florida Panthers their first regulation loss this season by handing on for a 4-3 victory. The Blueshirts jumped to a 4-0 lead but needed a 42-save performance by Igor Shesterkin to get the win. Shesterkin is 8-0-0 when stopping 40-plus shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So don’t worry about defense, Rangers, Shesterkin’s got your back. Kidding aside, the Blueshirts are fortunate to have a stellar young netminder between the pipes or this game would’ve had a different outcome. He was under siege in the third period as the Panthers outshot the Rangers 17-3.

Jonathan Quick kicked out 33 shots and Phillip Danault scored two goals and set up another as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1. After going 1-5-1, the Kings have won five straight games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Danault is no longer with the Montreal Canadiens but he continues to haunt the Leafs. His former club sorely misses his two-way skills as his departure is among the reasons the Habs are dreadful this season.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell and Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 7, 2021.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel is looking forward to his upcoming artificial disc replacement surgery and resuming his career with his new club. Meeting with the press on Monday, he expressed relief that he can put the past eight months behind him.

Eichel also believes his standoff with the Buffalo Sabres over treatment for his injured neck could lead to changes in the collective bargaining agreement. Under the CBA, teams have the final say over the medical treatment of their players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That change might have to wait until the next round of collective bargaining in 2026 or 2027 if it is extended for an additional year. Still, it’s a good bet the NHL Players Association will push for its members to have more say over decisions regarding hockey-related injuries.

TSN: In an interview with Rick Westhead, the mother of a former high school hockey player who was sexually assaulted by Bradley Aldrich was overcome with emotion watching Kyle Beach apologize to her son. She also thanked him for filing a police complaint against Aldrich, who allegedly sexually assaulted Beach during his tenure as the Chicago Blackhawks video coach in 2010.

Aldrich was allowed to step down from his job by the Blackhawks on his own terms with a positive reference letter from the club. While serving as a volunteer high school coach four years later, he pleaded guilty in Houghton, Michigan to sexually assaulting the high school player and served nine months in jail.

The player’s mother was also furious at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for saying the league needed more information before it would commit to providing the same psychological counseling it is now providing for Beach. She called on Bettman to retire, accusing him of lacking empathy for kids and young players. “And if he needs more information, I got a whole folder full of it here for him he can read,” she said.

The player filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks. The two sides are in settlement talks though the club is trying to have the suit dismissed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fallout from this scandal will continue to hang over the Blackhawks and the league for a long time. I also wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Bettman’s retirement. I’ve also seen and heard calls from some pundits and one notable player agent demanding the 32 NHL team owners fire Bettman. That’s easier said than done because he only needs the support of eight team owners to remain in his job.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Miles Wood is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing hip surgery on Monday.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators canceled practice yesterday out of caution after two more players were placed on the COVID protocol list. Forwards Connor Brown and Dylan Gambrell joined winger Austin Watson, defenseman Nick Holden and associate coach Jack Capuano on the list.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2021

Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl enjoy multi-point performances against the Rangers, Carey Price will soon return to the Canadiens, Brady Tkachuk named captain of the Senators, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid’s game-tying goal set the stage for Leon Draisaitl’s overtime winner as the Edmonton Oilers overcame 4-1 and 5-4 deficits to defeat the New York Rangers 6-5. McDavid, Draisaitl and Tyson Barrie each finished the night with a goal and two assists while Jesse Puljujarvi tallied twice and Darnell Nurse collected three assists for the Oilers. Mika Zibanejad scored two goals for the Rangers. Before the game, the Oilers honored former defenseman Kevin Lowe by retiring his No. 4 jersey.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid’s highlight-reel goal was another example of why he’s the best hockey player in the world right now. He stickhandled through four Rangers inside the New York blueline at high speed before tucking the puck past a sprawling Alexandar Georgiev. Draisaitl (23 points) and McDavid (22) are currently the NHL’s leading scorers.

Unanswered goals by Matt Duchene and Philip Tomasino lifted the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 26 saves while teammate Mikael Granlund picked up two assists. Brock Boeser and Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks.

The Winnipeg Jets downed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. Andrew Copp collected three assists while Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist. The Jets (6-2-2) are off to their best start since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011 while the sad-sack Blackhawks fall to 1-9-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something’s gotta give for the Blackhawks soon. It could be a trade or a coaching change but this is a team badly in need of a shakeup. Another month of this and they can kiss their already fading playoff chances goodbye. Then again, whatever they do will probably already be too late to reverse their fortunes this season.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz made 28 saves to backstop his club over the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Adam Henrique had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who honored team captain Ryan Getzlaf before the game for becoming the highest-scoring player in team history. The Coyotes have yet to win a game this season, sitting 0-10-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game highlighted two rebuilding clubs going in different directions. The Ducks (5-4-3) are off to a better than expected start while the Coyotes are feeling the effects of management’s offseason teardown moves that depleted the club’s depth, especially in goal. The Ducks still aren’t guaranteed to reach the playoffs but they’re showing early signs of becoming more competitive. The Coyotes, meanwhile, are going to endure a very long and difficult season.

The Los Angeles Kings nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Iafallo. Adrian Kempe and Arthur Kaliyev also scored for the Kings while Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha replied for the Devils.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will rejoin the club on Monday following a 30-day stint in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. However, there’s no timetable for when he’ll return to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price was recovering from offseason knee surgery prior to entering the program. It will likely take some time, perhaps several weeks, before he’s ready for game action. Nevertheless, it’s good to see that Price feels well enough mentally to make this first step toward resuming his career.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators named Brady Tkachuk as their new captain on Friday. The Senators also placed winger Auston Watson in COVID protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators haven’t had a team captain since trading Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in 2018. It’s an unsurprising choice as it had been speculated Tkachuk or Thomas Chabot would be named captain at some point this season. He leads by example on the ice and has become the face of the franchise.

Brady’s brother, Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk was fined $5,000.00 for high-sticking Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a strained oblique.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough setback for Laine, who was off to a good start with 10 points in nine games before the injury. He had just 21 points in 45 games with the Jackets last season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Anthony Mantha is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries continue to plague Mantha, who’s been sidelined in recent years with an injured lung, a broken hand, a fractured finger and a groin injury.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola in COVID protocol and announced center Brayden Schenn will be sidelined for two games with an upper-body injury. Ryan O’Reilly has come out of COVID protocol.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The NHL department of player safety handed down a two-game suspension to Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev for an illegal hit to the head of Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner on Thursday.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks reassigned winger William Eklund to his Swedish Hockey League club, Djurgardens IF, to save a year of the 19-year-old rookie’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a difficult decision by the Sharks. Eklund collected four assists in nine games and show considerable potential. The youngster is disappointed by the move but I expect he’ll be back full-time with the Sharks next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2021

The Hurricanes reach their season-opening ninth straight win, Leon Draisaitl overtakes Connor McDavid in the points race, more fallout from the Blackhawks scandal and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes extended their season-opening win streak to nine games by rallying to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Jesper Fast and Martin Necas scored in the third period to give the Hurricanes the victory while goaltender Frederik Andersen (27 saves) remains undefeated (8-0-0) this season. Alex DeBrincat scored twice for the Blackhawks (1-8-2).

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (NHL Images).

Leon Draisaitl (20 points) scored twice to overtake teammate Connor McDavid in the NHL scoring race in a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators, ending the latter’s four-game win streak. McDavid (19 points) collected two assists to extend his points streak to nine games. Draisaitl is the first player to reach 20 points in less than nine games to start a season since Mario Lemieux in 2002-03.

The Columbus Blue Jackets overcame a 2-0 deficit and blew a 4-2 lead before nipping the Colorado Avalanche in overtime 5-4. Cole Sillinger and Jake Bean scored twice with the latter tallying the game-winner. Bowen Byram tallied two goals and Nazem Kadri collected three assists for the Avalanche.

A shootout goal by Arthur Kaliyev lifted the Los Angles Kings to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. Torey Krug had a goal and an assist for the Blues (6-1-1). The Kings (4-5-1) have won three straight games.

HEADLINES

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich’s name has been stamped out in the club’s 2009-10 section of the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks requested Aldrich’s name be removed from the Cup following an independent investigation confirming a 2010 sexual assault allegation against him by former Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach was covered up by senior team executives.

TSN: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews offered clearer support of Beach. “I can’t undo what happened, I’d just like to know more and more about what Kyle feels and what he wants and what he envisions for the future,” said Toews.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and defenseman Brian Dumoulin were placed in COVID protocol after testing positive for the coronavirus. Head coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby displayed mild symptoms while Dumoulin is asymptomatic. This news comes less than 48 hours after Marcus Pettersson and Chad Ruhwedel tested positive. Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Jeff Carter and Zach Aston-Reese also tested positive and were placed in isolation at times since preseason.

THE ATHLETIC: The Nashville Predators will retire Pekka Rinne’s No. 35 on Feb. 24. Rinne retired in July following 15 NHL seasons all spent with the Predators.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Predators, winger Filip Forsberg is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin is listed as day-to-day after being struck in the head by a shot from teammate Brett Kulak during Tuesday’s 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. He is not believed to have suffered a concussion.

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban was fined $15,000.00 by the department of player safety for a dangerous trip of Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is how much Subban’s stock has fallen. He only appears in headlines now when he’s being fined for dangerous trips (also known as slew footing).

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott is listed as day-to-day with an injured foot.

TSN: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Conor Timmins will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers have loaned winger Vitali Kravtsov to the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk. He can be recalled by the Rangers once the KHL season is over. The 21-year-old winger refused assignment to the NHL and returned to Russia awaiting a trade.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 2, 2021

Commissioner Bettman publicly apologizes to Kyle Beach while attempting to defend the league’s disciplinary actions in the Blackhawks scandal, NHLPA votes for an independent investigation of its role in the scandal, the Rangers re-sign Adam Fox & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

BETTMAN DEFENDS LEAGUE’S HANDLING OF BLACKHAWKS SCANDAL, NHLPA VOTES FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO ITS ROLE IN THE SCANDAL

TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman publicly apologized yesterday to Kyle Beach for what he endured since he alleged he was sexually assaulted by former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich in 2010 during a video conference call with the media.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (NHL.com).

Bettman also defended the league fining the Blackhawks $2 million, allowing Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville to be behind the bench during last Wednesday’s game after the report was released regarding his role in the coverup (Quenneville stepped down as Panthers coach following a meeting with Bettman on Thursday), and absolving Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff for what the commissioner considered his minor role in the process.

Bettman said he felt Cheveldayoff, who was the Blackhawks assistant GM at the time, was a “minor player” in the affair who thought the allegations would be handled and properly resolved by his superiors. He believed Cheveldayoff wasn’t in a position to speak out because he didn’t have access to the information about the situation.

Reporters questioned Bettman about the Blackhawks’ fine when the league fined the New Jersey Devils $3 million for violating salary cap rules in signing Ilya Kovalchuk and in docking the Arizona Coyotes two draft picks last year for violation of the draft combine rules. “Different context, different facts,” Bettman replied.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That press conference was certainly not Bettman’s shining moment. He was roasted in the media and on social media for his responses and actions in dealing with this scandal. His answers were beyond disappointing.

Daily Faceoff’s Scott Burnside believes the league seems more concerned with rationalizing their criticized responses rather than having a frank and open discussion about the problems the scandal unveiled. The Athletic’s Sean Gentille felt Bettman’s goal was protecting the league, its owners and its money. “Doing the right thing…is somewhere down the list”, he wrote.

Gentille also took note of Bettman’s response when asked if the league would reach out to Sheldon Kennedy, a former player, sexual assault survivor and advocate against abuse, bullying, harassment and discrimination in hockey. “Sheldon’s experience was not at the NHL level,” replied the commissioner. Kennedy told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun the league and the NHLPA has never reached out to him over his two decades of tireless work that has earned him several honors, including the Order of Canada.

Sportsnet’s Luke Fox summarized Bettman’s performance: “Manage the situation. Cloud it with lawyer-speak. Move forward.” He also reported deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league had closed its investigation of Bill Peters and had been in touch with the representatives of former player Akim Aliu, who was the victim of alleged racial taunts by Peters years ago. Aliu’s representative Ben Meiselas denied the league has contacted him.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reported NHL players voted for an independent investigation by outside legal counsel in response to the NHLPA’s mishandling of the alleged sexual assault suffered by Beach. PA executive director Donald Fehr made the recommendation for the investigation. While Fehr is reportedly under fire for his handling of Beach’s allegations and concerns, Seravalli said there was little discord among the 80 players who took part in the call yesterday.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl had two goals and two assists as the Edmonton Oilers rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Draisaitl (17 points) is tied for the scoring lead with Connor McDavid, who picked up an assist to extend his points streak to eight games.

Patrick Kane tallied a hat trick as the Chicago Blackhawks downed the Ottawa Senators 5-1 to pick up their first win of the season. Jonathan Toews collected three assists and Brandon Hagel scored twice for the Blackhawks (1-7-2).

The Tampa Bay Lightning got 31 saves by Andrei Vasilevskiy to hold off the Washington Capitals 3-2. Anthony Cirelli had two points for the Lightning, who snapped the Capitals’ eight-game points streak.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed Adam Fox to a seven-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $9.5 million. Fox, 23, became just the second sophomore defenseman to win the Norris Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox left some money on the table. His Norris Trophy win last season gave him ample justification to seek over $10 million annually considering the $9 million AAV Cale Makar accepted this summer with the Colorado Avalanche.

This move ensures the Rangers have their best blueliner under contract through the prime years of his career. It also leaves the Blueshirts with a bit of a salary-cap crunch for next season. The Post indicates they’ll have about $11.6 million available under a projected $82.5 million cap for 2022-23. They’ll need to re-sign or replace second-line center (and pending UFA) Ryan Strome and backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Meanwhile, promising winger Kaapo Kakko is in the final season of his entry-level contract.

NHL.COM: Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson, and Lightning winger Alex Killorn are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 31, 2021.

NBC SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson will be sidelined for about six weeks with a broken foot. The Golden Knights have already lost forward Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Alex Tuch and Nolan Patrick to injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the Golden Knights’ rumored trade talks with the Buffalo Sabres for Jack Eichel.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Max Domi is quarantined in New York after a positive COVID-19 test.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi can’t catch a break. He returned sooner than expected from offseason shoulder surgery and from a fractured rib suffered earlier in the season.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks added Kevin Labanc to the COVID-19 protocol list. Currently, seven Sharks players, including Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, are on the list along with head coach Bob Boughner.

It was a busy day for the Montreal Canadiens. They sent struggling winger Cole Caufield to the minors, announced defenseman Joel Edmundson suffered a setback in his recovery from an undisclosed injury and is 10 -14 days from returning, and learned Cedric Paquette received a two-game suspension for boarding Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield entered this season considered a favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year following his strong performance in the 2021 playoffs. He and his teammates have struggled to score thus far. The Habs are hoping the 20-year-old winger can regain his scoring touch with their AHL affiliate in Laval.

THE PROVINCE: Travis Hamonic has returned to the Vancouver Canucks lineup after missing training camp and the start of the season dealing with a personal issue. He’s expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the near future.