NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 11, 2018

Game recaps, stars of the week, plus the latest trade, waiver and injury updates in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Steven Stamkos tallied a hat trick and collected his 700th career point to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to their seventh straight victory by downing the New York Rangers 6-3. Anthony Cirelli also scored twice for the Lightning. Kevin Hayes scored two goals for the Rangers, who lost defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the second period with an injured left shoulder.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos collected his 700th career point with a hat trick against the New York Rangers. (Photo via NHL Images)

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard kicked out 42 shots as his club downed the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez (upper-body injury) did not play in this game.

San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier scored twice in a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Teammates Joe Pavelski and Tomas Hertl each had a goal and an assist.

Jake Guentzel’s shootout goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders. Goaltender Casey DeSmith made 25 saves.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Louis Domingue, and Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 9, 2018.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (concussion) will miss tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. No word on how long he could be sidelined.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Micheal Ferland has returned from a concussion.

SPORTSNET: The St. Louis Blues placed goaltender Chad Johnson on waivers. Meanwhile, a fight broke out in Blues practice yesterday between Robert Bortuzzo and Zach Sanford.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Things are so bad for the Blues right now that some folks are hoping this scrap might spark an improvement in their play. 

CBS SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche forward Vladislav Kamenev will require shoulder surgery and could be sidelined indefinitely. 

TORONTO STAR: The Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Calle Rosen to a two-year, one-way contract worth $750k per season and traded forward Adam Cracknell to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Steven Oleksy.

TVA SPORTS: Smaller crowds and a falling Canadian dollar has forced the NHL to make a downward adjustment of their second-quarter hockey-related revenue, increasing the escrow percentage deducted from players salaries from 11.5 percent to 13.5 percent. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could bear watching over the course of this season, especially as the league and the NHLPA have the option to trigger an early out from the current collective bargaining agreement next September. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 10, 2018

Game recaps plus updates on Matt Murray, Kevin Shattenkirk and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews and John Tavares each scored twice while Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly each had a four-point night to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-4 beatdown of the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin had a goal and three assists and Alexander Radulov collected three points in a losing cause for the Stars.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews had his fourth straight multiple-goal game. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews also became “the third player in franchise history to record multiple points in each of the club’s opening four contests, joining Harry Cameron (8-6—14 in 4 GP) in 1917-18 and Sweeney Schriner (9-6—15 in 6 GP) in 1944-45.”

Joe Pavelski and Evander Kane also had two-goal performances while Kevin Labanc had four assists as the San Jose Sharks crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 8-2. Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott faced 48 shots.

Mike Smith turned in a 43-save shutout performance as the Calgary Flames blanked the Nashville Predators 3-0. Sean Monahan had two goals and Johnny Gaudreau picked up three assists.

Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor rallied the Winnipeg Jets to a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Ilya Kovalchuk scored the Kings’ only goal, his first in the NHL since 2013. Kings netminder Jack Campbell kept it close, turning aside 37 shots.

Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin each had two points in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 5-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver rookie Elias Pettersson collected an assist while Sven Baertschi scored twice and set up another for the Canucks.

Nick Foligno scored twice and added an assist to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray suffered a concussion during practice on Monday. There’s no timetable for his return. The Penguins have called up Tristan Jarry to support backup Casey DeSmith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Murray’s third concussion since 2015-16 and his second in less than a year. 

NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is expected to be a healthy scratch from Thursday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. Shattenkirk is in the second year of a four-year, $26.6-million contract and is struggling to regain his form following offseason knee surgery.

SPORTSNET: Calgary city council voted to re-start negotiations on a new arena with the Flames. The club broke off talks last year with president Ken King calling discussions “spectacularly unproductive.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: “In his book ‘‘The Break Away: The Inside Story of the Wirtz Family Business and the Chicago Blackhawks,’’ former Sun-Times writer Bryan Smith — now a senior writer at Chicago magazine — suggests late Hawks owner and emperor Bill Wirtz was mentally incapacitated toward the end of his reign.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would certainly explain a lot of the puzzling decisions Wirtz made during his final years running the Blackhawks. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Little Caesars Arena will be replacing its red seats with black ones. “The red seats have been noteworthy for highlighting empty seats during Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons telecasts, although both franchises say fans are dispersed throughout the arena in clubs and bars.”



The Two Biggest Potential Issues in the Next NHL CBA Standoff

The Two Biggest Potential Issues in the Next NHL CBA Standoff

In two years time, the National Hockey League or the NHL Players Association could decide to bring their current collective bargaining agreement to a premature end. Though the CBA’s expiration date is Sept. 15, 2022, the league can opt out on Sept. 1, 2019 while the PA can do so on Sept. 15, 2019.

If one or the other takes the early out, the CBA will expire on Sept. 15, 2020. That would set the stage for perhaps another lockout of the players by the team owners if no new agreement is in place by then. Given the contentious history of NHL CBA negotiations, we can likely expect yet another work stoppage.

Can NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (right) and NHLPA director Donald Fehr avoid another NHL lockout? (Photo via NHL.com)

Should that occur, it probably won’t be the season killer of 2004-05. Back then, the league was determined to implement a strict cost certainty system from scratch whilst crushing the PA’s militant leadership. The next lockout will likely cost half a season, just like in 2012-13 and 1994-95.

On Aug. 20, The Athletic’s Katie Strang detailed the main issues that could arise in the next round of collective bargaining. Distribution of hockey-related revenue (HRR) and escrow topped the list, followed by maximum contract lengths and Olympic participation.

Of these, HRR and escrow are the most consequential. Contract lengths and the Olympics are secondary matters likely to be used by either side as leverage on the more important issues.

Over the last two lockouts, the division of HRR was reduced from a 75-25 split for the players (according to the league; some reports at the time suggested it was closer to 60-40) in the 1994 agreement to 57-43 under the previous CBA, eventually arriving at the current 50-50 split.

As long as the league addresses what Strang called HRR leakage by broadening what is considered to be hockey-related revenue (such as money from legalized betting) to ensure the players get a fair share, or doesn’t insist on the owners getting a larger slice of the revenue pie, another round of labor strife could be avoided. Otherwise, don’t expect to see your favorite NHL team in action during the autumn of 2020.

Escrow is the bi-monthly clawbacks from the players’ salaries. As Strang explains, it is the establishment of a fund that sets aside money in order to reconcile the frequent discrepancies between projected revenue vs. actual revenue. It provides cost certainty for the league, and it acts essentially as an accounting mechanism.”

The problem, however, is the escrow percentages rose along with the salary cap. The players usually got very little of that money back once the final HRR was tallied at season’s end. As Strang notes,  the escrow percentages since 2012-13 were usually over 12 percent and sometimes exceeded 15 percent.

The players hate the system but, given that the salary cap is tied to revenue, it’s not going away. They’ll likely seek to reduce the percentage but it won’t be easy.

Strang noted one way to reduce it would be to lower the salary cap but that won’t sit well with players seeking new contracts. Indeed, she suggests it could pit the players against each other. That’s a scenario the league will happily exploit.

If there’s a possible silver lining here, it’s what Strang called the “wild card”: Seattle becoming the NHL’s 32nd franchise. The league board of governors could green-light that entry during their annual meeting this December in Florida.

If approved, the earliest the Seattle club could hit the ice is 2020-21. The last thing league honchos want is the potential embarrassment of their new franchise’s debut put on hold over a work stoppage. It could become the PA’s biggest bargaining chip.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 7, 2018

Updates on the Capitals and Golden Knights plus the latest on Henrik Zetterberg, Scott Hartnell and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has a chance to make history in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final (Photo via NHL Images).

 WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals are on the brink of capturing the Stanley Cup, which would make Alex Ovechkin the first Russian-born captain in league history to win hockey’s greatest prize. The Capitals currently lead the Stanley Cup Final three games to one over the Vegas Golden Knights. They can clinch tonight in Game 5 in Las Vegas.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: If the Capitals win the Cup, forward Devante Smith-Pelly indicated he’s made up his mind about a possible visit to the White House. “The things that [President Trump] spews are straight-up racist and sexist,” said Smith-Pelly. ““Some of the things he’s said are pretty gross. I’m not too into politics, so I don’t know all his other views, but his rhetoric I definitely don’t agree with.”

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson skipped yesterday’s optional practice but is expected to be in the lineup for Game 5 tonight. 

Forward William Carrier could return to the Golden Knights’ lineup for Game 5. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg confirms he’s preparing to play at least one more season. Zetterberg, 38, has three seasons remaining on his contract but injuries in recent years have hampered his performance. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators winger Scott Hartnell is training for another NHL season but he acknowledged he could also be facing retirement. The 36-year-old is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and he isn’t expected to be re-signed by the Predators. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild cut ties with assistant coach John Anderson, replacing him with Dean Evason.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 23, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 23, 2017

Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and two assists as the Vegas Golden Knights doubled up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. With the win, Vegas holds first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt even the most die-hard Golden Knights fan envisioned their club holding first place in the Pacific. Considering their injury-ravaged goaltending, this is an impressive achievement for an expansion team. I still don’t see this club clinching a playoff berth, but if they do, it’ll make a helluva story. 

Josh Bailey scored the winner in overtime and also collected two assists as the New York Islanders topped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Bailey’s goal came as the result of impressive work by center John Tavares.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For anyone with lingering doubts over why Tavares could be the top player potentially available in this summer’s free-agent market, watching him shake off Flyers center Sean Couturier to set up Bailey’s game winner should wipe away your uncertainty. It was highlight reel stuff, folks. 

Brock Boeser scored two goals for the second straight game while Anders Nilsson made 43 saves to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s tearing it up offensively of late. He now leads this season’s rookie class in goals (11) and points (21). 

Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast both scored two goals as the New York Rangers thumped the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1. The Rangers have won eight of their last 10 games.

Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter each scored twice as the Minnesota Wild edged the Buffalo Sabres 5-4, handing the latter their seventh straight defeat. Jordan Nolan scored two goals for the Sabres.

Jakub Vrana scored twice, Evgeni Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists and Alex Ovechkin tallied his 14th goal of the season in the Washington Capitals’ 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, handing the Sens their fourth straight defeat. Earlier in the day, the Sens claimed Gabriel Dumont off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Filip Forsberg netted two goals and Kyle Turris tallied the winner in a shootout to give the Nashville Predators a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, leaving the latter winless in their last five games. The Habs were playing without defenseman Shea Weber (lower-body injury) for the second straight game.

Connor McDavid and Ryan Strome each collected two assists as the Edmonton Oilers snapped a three-game losing skid with a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

Nathan MacKinnon had three assists and Jonathan Bernier stopped 28 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 3-0. MacKinnon has 20 points in his last 10 games.

Nick Bjugstad scored in a shootout as the Florida Panthers squeaked past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Roberto Luongo made 43 saves for the win while Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen kicked out 42 shots.

Brayden Point’s overtime goal completed the comeback for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Patrick Kane scored twice for the Hawks.

Steve Mason made 38 saves as the Winnipeg Jets hung on for a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

Charlie McAvoy’s shootout goal gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Anton Khudobin turned aside 40 shots for the victory. Earlier in the day, the Devils learned winger Kyle Palmieri will miss four-to-six weeks with a broken right foot.

Josh Anderson scored in overtime and Sergei Bobrovsky had a 22-save shutout performance as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Calgary Flames 1-0.

Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Joel Ward scored to give the San Jose Sharks a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes, ending the latter’s three-game win streak. It was a costly loss for the Coyotes, as goalie Antti Raanta left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Escrow payments for NHL players are going down. The rate for this season was set at 11.5 percent to start the season, but it’s plausible they’ll only lose eight or nine percent of their pay to escrow by season’s end. The players will also receive escrow refunds of 3 percent for 2015-16. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: High escrow clawbacks are a significant issue for the players. But if that rate is declining and they continue to see refunds, it could dampen speculation suggesting the NHL Players Association might vote for an early opt-out of the collective bargaining agreement in September 2019.


No Surprise NHLPA Rejects NHL CBA Proposal

No Surprise NHLPA Rejects NHL CBA Proposal

NHLPA director Donald Fehr recently announced the players rejected the NHL's Olympic offer.

NHLPA director Donald Fehr recently announced the players rejected the NHL’s Olympic offer.

On November 16, 2016, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman made a surprising proposal to the NHL Players Association. In exchange for NHL participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the players would have to accept an extension of the current collective bargaining agreement by three years.

After mulling Bettman’s offer for two weeks, the PA rejected it. NHL participation in the ’18 Games now appears to be a long shot.

Bettman recently cited the unhappiness of team owners in shutting down the league for a two-week Olympic break. In September, deputy commissioner Bill Daly claimed the Olympics hadn’t help the league’s business.

Another sticking point was the International Olympic Committee’s unwillingness to pick up the tab for the players’ insurance and transportation. The International Ice Hockey Federation recently announced they would cover those costs, but it doesn’t appear as though that will sway the NHL to take part in the Pyeongchang Games.

Considering these factors, Bettman’s proposal to the PA was remarkable. And at first glance, it appeared to be a winner for everyone. The players would continue to perform in the Olympics, and there would be potential labor peace to 2025.

But according to PA director Donald Fehr, there were “elements” in the CBA the players wanted to further examine before getting into bargaining with the league. Doing so would apparently take too long to accomplish in time for the league to reach a decision on going to  Pyeongchang.

One of those elements is the escrow claw-backs from the players’ salaries. In recent years, that’s become a significant issue for the PA membership.

Under the current system, a certain percentage of their salaries (based upon quarterly revenue projections) is held in escrow. If revenue exceeds expectations by season’s end, the players get that money back with interest. Otherwise, the money returns to the owners.

The decline in the Canadian dollar over the past two years has led to sluggish revenue growth, meaning the players are making less money. It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that they don’t like the idea of being locked into the current system beyond 2022. 

League headquarters could attempt to paint the players as the bad guys for rejecting Bettman’s offer, passing up Olympic participation over money. But don’t forget, it’s the team owners expressing reluctance to take part in the ’18 Games. The players are still keen to go, but not at the cost of being locked into an unfavorable escrow system for three more years.

What’s intriguing here is the NHL is reportedly interested in taking part in the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China. The opportunity to tap into the huge Chinese sports market in 2022 is apparently a more enticing option. In other words, the team owners apparently don’t like the notion of shutting down the league for two weeks in 2018 to go to Pyeongchang, but they have no problem doing so to go to Beijing in 2022.

In the meantime, what’s the fallout from the PA rejecting the league’s Olympics-for-CBA extension offer?

Bettman will probably announce next year the the NHL is skipping the 2018 Olympics, while leaving the door open to return in 2022.

Some NHL stars could still decide to represent their countries in Pyeongchang, even at the risk of suspension by their NHL teams or the league. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s made no secret of his intent to do so. If a number of stars follow his lead, the NHL will have a potentially embarrassing situation on its hands. 

The end date of the CBA will remain September 15, 2022, with the league and the PA having the right to opt out in September 2019. If one or the other goes that route, the 2019-20 season will be the last of this agreement.

Escrow will be a significant issue in the next round of collective bargaining, perhaps being the key factor that determines if the NHL owners once again decide to lock out the players. The league won’t do away with the escrow system, so expect the players to seek a hard cap on those payments.