NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2020
Former Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix passed away, the latest on NHL franchise values, an update on the Canucks and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
THE DENVER POST: Former Colorado Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix passed away Sunday in Las Vegas from complications related to COVID-19. He was 72.
Lacroix was a player agent until hired by the Quebec Nordiques as president and general manager in 1994. He moved with the club to Colorado in 1995, building the Avalanche into a Stanley Cup champion in 1996 and 2001.
His prominent moves included acquiring future Hall-of-Famers Patrick Roy in 1995, Raymond Bourque in 2000 and Rob Blake in 2001. Milan Hejduk, Chris Drury, Alex Tanguay, John-Michael Liles, and Paul Stastny were among the notable Avs drafted by Lacroix.
Lacroix stepped down as Avalanche GM in 2006 and as president in 2013, though he maintained an advisory role. Joe Sakic, Michel Goulet, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke were among those expressing condolences on Sunday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Lacroix’s family, friends, former players and the Avalanche organization.
Lacroix took over a promising club with two foundation stars in Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. He turned them into an NHL powerhouse with a series of shrewd trades and free-agent signings.
His biggest move, of course, was acquiring Roy from the Montreal Canadiens. That trade haunts the Canadiens and their fans to this day while elevating the Avs into a perennial Cup contender for nearly a decade.
Lacroix was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. Perhaps one day, he’ll be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builders’ category.
NATIONAL POST: Michael Traikos took note of last week’s Forbes article on the detrimental effects of COVID-19 upon the NHL’s hockey-related revenue (HRR) and some of its franchises. After speaking with the authors of the report, Traikos mused over the potential effects upon struggling franchises such as the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers if things don’t soon return to normal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Traikos and the Forbes columnists aren’t suggesting we’ll see a stampede of owners attempting to sell their clubs. However, they’re correct in assuming the next several years could be challenging for some of them if HRR doesn’t soon return to pre-COVID levels.
NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning believes his young core of talent can one day carry his club to a Stanley Cup. He remains confident in re-signing Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pettersson and Hughes are coming off their entry-level contracts. They would be in line for hefty raises in a normal season. Demko has arbitration rights next summer and will get a raise over his current $1.05 million AAV. With a flattened salary cap expected for 2021-22, Benning could try to get those three to accept affordable short-term deals with the promise of greater riches afterward.
Given the value of Pettersson and Hughes to the Canucks, their next contracts could be lucrative long-term deals. Demko, on the other hand, could receive a shorter deal because of his limited body of work.
OTTAWA SUN: Members of the Senators living abroad are starting to return to Ottawa in anticipation of training camp opening by the end of the month. The Senators are among last season’s seven non-playoff clubs that could open training camp on Dec. 30, with the 24 other teams expected to begin camp on Jan. 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most players on all 31 clubs are probably starting to return to their respective NHL cities if they haven’t already done so.
TSN: Rick Westhead reported a U.S. Federal court judge has dismissed the five-year-old lawsuit filed against the NHL by the father of the late Steve Montador, which alleged the league promoted violence and profited by it while insufficiently protecting its players from the risk of long-term brain injuries. Paul Montador is exploring his options, which could include an appeal of the decision.