Updates on the Return-to-Play plan and CBA extension, the Devils officially announced Lindy Ruff as their new head coach and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN & CBA EXTENSION UPDATES
TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the return-to-play plan and CBA extension could be ratified by Friday night. The results of the NHLPA membership vote will be completed by 6 pm ET while the NHL Board of Governors will hold a conference call at 4 PM ET.
The NHL & NHLPA could ratify the return-to-play plan and CBA extension later today (Image via NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The BoG call is expected to be a rubber stamp. Despite several recent reports of player unhappiness leading up to this week, media consensus is the PA membership is expected to vote its approval.
McKenzie wonders if there will be a big spike in positive COVID-19 tests as Phase 3 commences Monday with mandatory training camps at NHL facilities.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve repeatedly said Phase 3 will determine if Phase 4 (the playoff tournament) takes place. McKenzie points out the league has a fighting chance to pull this off once the teams are quarantined in Edmonton and Toronto. Getting to that point, however, could be a challenge.
During Phase 4, the Eastern Conference clubs will be housed at Hotel X on the CNE grounds and the Royal York in downtown Toronto. In Edmonton, the Western Conference teams will be housed at the JW Marriott alongside the arena and the Sutton Place hotel downtown.
The playoff games are slated for 12, 4, and 8 pm local time daily, but McKenzie indicates the Edmonton schedule could be tweaked more depending on the needs of broadcasters.
Some teams are leaning toward bringing three goalies to the tournament but more are considering bringing four. They’re also mulling whether to bring 31 players or reduced those numbers to allow for an extra staff member or two.
DEVILS HIRE RUFF AS HEAD COACH, MAKE FITZGERALD THEIR FULL-TIME GM
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils made it official yesterday, announcing Lindy Ruff will become their new head coach starting next season and removed the interim tag from general manager Tom Fitzgerald’s title.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ruff is known for his defensive systems, but those expecting a boring trapping style could be in for a surprise. “We played a super-fast possession type of game, which is the same type of game I’d like to bring to this Devils team with a lot of puck pressure using the skills we have to own the puck,” he told NJ.com. “And I want a team that can dominate with speed and possession, but at the same time knowing that defending is a passion that we’re going to have.”
Flames coach Bill Peters accused of making racial slurs to a former player, Henrik Lundqvist reaches another milestone victory, former Leafs coach Mike Babcock criticized for bullying tactics, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their points streak to five games with a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames. Jake Guentzel netted the winning goal in overtime. Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an undisclosed ailment on Nov. 4.
During the game, former NHL player Akim Aliu took to Twitter insinuating Flames coach Bill Peters uttered racial slurs at him when the two were in the minors a decade ago. Flames general manager Brad Treliving said the club will make a complete investigation before commenting on Aliu’s comments.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aliu didn’t directly name Peters but referred to the Calgary airport code. He played for Peters on the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs in 2009-10. That’s when the former defenseman claims the remarks were made.
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 455th career victory by downing the Minnesota Wild 3-2 (Photo via NHL Images).
New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 455th career win as his club edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. He moved into fifth place on the all-time wins list. Tony DeAngelo scored the winner in overtime. During the game, Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello was given a video tribute and a nice ovation by Rangers fans. Zuccarello spent nearly nine seasons with the Blueshirts.
The Dallas Stars tied a franchise record with their seventh straight win as they doubled up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Alexander Radulov scored twice and set up another as the Stars extended their points streak to 12 games. Stars defenseman John Klingberg collected three assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After dropping eight of their first name games, the Stars have roared back in November. They now sit third overall in the Western Conference.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 26 saves to blank the New York Islanders 3-0, snapping the latter’s franchise-record 17-game points streak. It’s the Isles’ first regulation loss since Oct. 11. Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.
Shorthanded third-period goals by Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat carried the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Palat also collected two assists. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak will have a hearing with the NHL department of player safety for elbowing Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who left the game with a concussion.
Jakub Voracek scored the tie-breaking goal as the Philadelphia Flyers nipped the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Sean Couturier also tallied for the Flyers, while J.T. Miller scored for the Canucks, who’ve won just three of their last 11 contests. Earlier in the day, the Canucks announced winger Antoine Roussel (knee injury) was heading to their AHL affiliate in Utica for a conditioning stint.
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo turned in a 25-save shutout in a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. Oliver Bjorkstrand netted the game’s only goal.
The Nashville Predators blew a 2-0 lead but went on to down the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on shootout goals by Filip Forsberg and Daniel Carr. Blues goaltender Jake Allen made 37 saves. Winger Troy Brouwer finally made his season debut with the Blues following a wait for his work visa to be approved.
After blowing a 3-0 lead, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on an unassisted overtime tally by Patrick Marleau. Timo Meier also scored twice for the Sharks.
Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 24, 2019.
TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock is under criticism for his treatment of winger Mitch Marner during the latter’s rookie season. Babcock asked Marner to rank his teammates based on their work output, then shared the results with his teammates. The players were reportedly more upset with Babcock than they were with Marner. Babcock confirmed the story to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, claiming he was trying to focus on work ethic and role models with Marner and apologized at the time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock also came under fire from former NHL players Mike Commodore and Mark Fraser. They claim most of the players who skated for the long-time NHL coach hated him, as he used his power to turn teammates against each other. The emerging stories have dimmed some of the luster from Babcock’s otherwise stellar NHL record.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, center Alexander Kerfoot received a two-game suspension for boarding Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center Patrick Bergeron will be sidelined for two games with a lingering lower-body injury.
YARDBARKER: The Florida Panthers demoted goaltender Sam Montembeault to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
NJ.COM: Tom Fitzgerald has stepped away from his assistant coach duties with the New Jersey Devils and returned to his position as their assistant general manager.
New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson celebrates his overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Game recaps, stars of the week and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Brock Nelson scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to give the New York Islanders a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. All of the Leafs goals were scored by rookies such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.
Pavel Zacha scored his first NHL game-winning goal as the New Jersey Devils edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Earlier in the day, the Sabres re-signed defenseman Justin Falk to a one-year, one-way contract worth $650K and brought back center Derek Grant by claiming him off waivers from the Nashville Predators.
Carter Hutton turned in a 26-save shutout performance backstopping the St. Louis Blues to a 2-0 blanking of the Philadelphia Flyers.
SPORTSNET: Carolina Hurricanes rookie forward Sebastian Aho, Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Peter Budaj are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending February 5, 2017.
SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL: The Columbus Blue Jackets are among nine American-based NHL clubs to see a boost in their television ratings. The New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers also enjoyed a ratings boost. Twelve clubs saw a decline, notably the Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks. The decline in some markets was the result of last fall’s U.S. Presidential election.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In most cases, improved or declining ratings were tied to team performance from last season and the current campaign.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings activated winger Steve Ott from injured reserved, but placed center Frans Nielsen (shoulder) and defenseman Niklas Kronwall (knee) on IR.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald took to the ice for the first time yesterday, joining a handful of Coyotes players (including captain Shane Doan). Fitzgerald, who was co-winner of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, will be honored by the Coyotes on Saturday with a bobblehead night depicting him in Coyotes gear.