Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin on his chances of breaking Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, the Canucks sign Pius Suter, a new endorsement deal for Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin remains uncertain if he’ll eclipse Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL goals record of 894. The 37-year-old left winger has 822 goals and needs 73 to pass Gretzky.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
In an interview with MatchTV, Ovechkin admitted he’d like to break Gretzky’s record. “I still doubt that this is possible, but I will make every effort to get to this number.” Ovechkin also said that his summer training for the coming season is going well.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin has three seasons remaining on his contract with the Capitals. He’ll break the goals record by averaging just over 24 per season. He tallied 42 goals in 2022-23 despite missing nine games to injuries.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed center Pius Suter to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A nice affordable signing by the cap-strapped Canucks to boost their checking-line depth at center. Suter should help them improve their penalty-killing. He’s also taken a significant pay cut, down from the $3.25 million AAV he earned with the Detroit Red Wings.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard signed an exclusive deal with Sherwood Hockey.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ian Kennedy reports sources saying Brian Burke will take a leadership role with the Professional Women’s Hockey League Players’ Association. Burke recently served as President of Hockey Operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Anders Bjork signed a one-year contract with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He netted eight points in 13 games with the Chicago Blackhawks last season following a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Flames will retire Miikka Kiprusoff’s number this season, Alex Galchenyuk enters the player assistance program and apologizes to police, Hockey Night in Canada’s panel to return, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames announced they will retire Miikka Kiprusoff’s No. 34 during a pregame ceremony when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 2. His banner will hang next to former teammate Jarome Iginla’s No. 12 in the Saddledome rafters.
Former Calgary Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff (NHL.com).
Kiprusoff backstopped the Flames into five straight playoffs following his acquisition from the San Jose Sharks during the 2003 offseason, including their run to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final. He won the Vezina Trophy and Jennings Trophy in 2005-06.
In a statement, Kiprusoff said he was honored and humbled by the recognition of his time with the Flames. He spent nine of his 12 NHL seasons with the Flames, retiring as their franchise leader in wins (305), shutouts (41), goals-against average (2.46), save percentage (.913) and games played by a goaltender (576). He also holds their single-season wins record with 45.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a fitting honor for Kiprusoff. For most of his tenure with the Flames (2003-04 to 2012-13), he was a workhorse between the pipes and ranked among the NHL’s top goaltenders. “Kipper” was the main reason they exceeded expectations during the 2004 playoffs and came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup that year.
ESPN.COM: Alex Galchenyuk is voluntarily entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program following his arrest last week. He has also apologized to the Arizona Coyotes and to Scottsdale police for his “deeply disrespectful and despicable behavior.”
The 29-year-old forward was arrested on July 9 for a hit-and-run incident resulting in misdemeanor charges. The Coyotes terminated his contract just 13 days after signing him to a one-year deal on July 1.
NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh said the players association is still contemplating whether to file a grievance on Galchenyuk’s behalf regarding the termination of his contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I hope Galchenyuk gets the help he needs to address his personal issues.
TORONTO SUN: It appears Hockey Night in Canada’s panel will be returning for 2023-24. There was speculation earlier this month that host Ron MacLean and others on the panel would be replaced.
Longtime sportscaster and producer John Shannon recently tweeted that MacLean will be back for another year. Fellow panelist Kevin Bieksa also tweeted that he will be returning.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Former Avalanche forward Denis Malgin is returning to Switzerland, signing a five-year contract with the Swiss National League’s ZSC Lions. From 2016-17 to 2022-23, he had 41 goals and 80 points in 257 games with the Avalanche, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs hired Derek Clancey as an assistant general manager. He spent last season as an assistant GM with the Vancouver Canucks. Before that, he worked as a pro scout in 2021-22 for Leafs general manager Brad Treliving when the latter was GM of the Calgary Flames.
ESPN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league isn’t looking to add an in-season tournament like the National Basketball Association. The NBA is adding a European cup-style competition to its 2023-24 regular-season schedule.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The stick used by Wayne Gretzky in Game 4 of the 1988 Stanley Cup Final is being offered at auction through Sotheby’s Sealed to July 25. The stick is estimated to rake up around $500,000 USD.
The Oilers won their fourth Cup in that game with Gretzky winning his second Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. It was this last championship as well as his final game with the Oilers before his trade to the Los Angeles Kings.
The NHL and NHLPA release their COVID protocol for 2022-23, Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit, Jets center Mark Scheifele clarifies his end-of-season comments and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA released their COVID-19 protocol for 2022-23. There’s little change from last season’s protocol.
Testing will only happen for asymptomatic players and those crossing the Canada-US border. Those who test positive must isolate for five days if asymptomatic and 10 days if experiencing symptoms. Unvaccinated players remain unable to cross the border.
The NHL can postpone, reschedule or cancel games and events due to a COVD-19 outbreak if it poses a health risk to players and others.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi and Edmonton Oilers forward Josh Archibald were the only two unvaccinated NHL players by the end of last season. Archibald, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, received a medical exemption in May. The travel restriction for the coming season would only apply to Bertuzzi unless he gets vaccinated or receives a medical exemption.
NEW YORK POST: cites TMZ reporting Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit accusing him of lying about losing 35 pounds after using a weight-loss gum for two months.
TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele downplayed speculation about his future based on his end-of-season comments in May. He pointed out that he prefaced those remarks by professing his love of playing in Winnipeg and his desire to remain with the Jets. Scheifele claims his comment about thinking about his career and what was best for him after the club missed the playoffs was misconstrued by the media.
Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).
“I was confident I was coming back until I saw all the media headlines and then all of a sudden it’s I’m getting traded and who knows where I’m going and all that stuff,” said Scheifele.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff played down Scheifele’s comments last spring. He said the exit interview between the two went well, dismissing Scheifele’s remarks as an emotional reaction to missing the playoffs.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl are progressing well recovering from injuries suffered during the 2022 playoffs. Both are currently working out and Woodcroft expects they’ll be ready for training camp next summer.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed Jack Johnson to a one-year contract worth $950K. The 35-year-old defenseman played for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche last season, appearing in 74 regular-season games and 13 playoff contests.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHL forward Cedric Paquette has signed a one-year contract with KHL club Dinamo Minsk in Belarus.
CAP FRIENDLY: indicates Derek Stepan has signed a professional tryout offer with the Carolina Hurricanes.
SALTWIRE: One of the two arenas at Summerside’s Credit Union Place was named in honor of New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallant for this well-deserved honor by his hometown. Gallant is among the best-known hockey men from Prince Edward Island. He started his playing career in Summerside’s minor hockey program and went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL from 1984-85 to 1994-95.
Since 2014-15, Gallant has become one of the league’s top coaches. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2017-18 and guided the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He took over behind the Rangers’ bench last season.
The Lightning win Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, Patrice Bergeron wins a record-setting fifth Selke Trophy, Evander Kane receives a one-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored with 42 seconds remaining in regulation to left the Tampa Bay Lightning over the New York Rangers 3-2 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Rangers took a 2-0 lead on power-play goals by Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider but the Lightning rallied as Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos tallied with the man advantage. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves for the win while Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin stopped 48 shots. Game 4 goes Tuesday night with the Rangers holding a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of this series. The Lightning seemed poised to drop their third straight after falling behind by two goals but showed the heart of a champion to take control of the game midway through the second period and pulled out the win. They needed their best players to step up and they did.
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).
Nikita Kucherov was a factor in all three of the Lighting goals and was a notable presence throughout this game. Defenseman Victor Hedman also had a solid performance at both ends of the ice, picking up two assists and logging over 24 minutes of ice time. Palat, meanwhile, set a franchise record with his 10 postseason game-winning goal.
The Rangers not only lost the game but also Ryan Strome as the veteran center suffered a lower-body injury following a cross-check in the lower back by Palat. His status for Game 4 is uncertain.
Rangers coach Gerard Gallant intends to speak with NHL goaltending supervisor Kay Whitmore over the Lightning’s treatment of Shesterkin. Corey Perry was penalized for slashing and Riley Nash was whistled off for goaltending interference as the Bolts attempted to generate more traffic in front of Shesterkin to knock him off his game.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron won the Frank J. Selke Trophy for a record-setting fifth time. He has also been a finalist six other times.
Bergeron also revealed he had undergone surgery to repair a tendon in his right elbow. His anticipate recovery period is 10-12 weeks.
Whether Bergeron returns with the Bruins next season remains to be seen. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and hasn’t decided yet if he’ll return for another season or retire. He indicated he intends to take all the time he needs to reach the right decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Bergeron for his well-deserved record-setting Selke win. If this season was indeed his last he’s going out as the greatest defensive forward in NHL history.
Bergeron will be fully recovered in time for training camp if he decides to return. The amount of time he’s taking to reach that decision will determine what moves management makes during the offseason.
Some Bruins fans are calling for Bergeron to make up his mind about his plans. The concern over his status and its effect on the Bruins’ plans for next season is understandable. However, the 36-year-old center has given everything to this franchise. He should be allowed all the time he needs to determine if he’ll return or hang up his skates. Any concerns about the Bruins’ lack of depth at center should be directed at management, not their captain.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Evander Kane received a one-game suspension by the NHL’s department of player safety for boarding Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri is out for the remainder of this series with a suspected broken thumb. The Oilers will also be without winger Kailer Yamamoto for Game 4 tonight after suffering a concussion from a hit by Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. The Avalanche holds a 3-0 lead in the series and can wrap things up with a win tonight.
SPORTSNET: Wayne Gretzky’s last game-worn Edmonton Oilers jersey sold for $1.452 million US at Grey Flannel Auctions yesterday. It’s the most ever paid for a game-worn hockey jersey.
NHL.COM: Arizona Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said his club is planning on using all seven of the picks in the first two rounds of the 2022 NHL Draft. They hold three selections in the first round, including the No. 3 pick, and four in the second. Armstrong isn’t ruling out packaging some of those picks to move up in the draft order.
The Lightning defeat the Predators in their Stadium Series, Mitch Marner collects six points in wild Leafs win over the Red Wings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists as his club held off the Nashville Predators 3-2 in their 2022 Stadium Series game before a sellout crowd of 68, 619 fans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots as the Lightning (74 points) moved within a point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak left the game in the first period following a high hit from Nashville center Ryan Johansen. With 64 points, the Predators hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).
Mitch Marner enjoyed a career-high six-point performance (four goals, two assists) as his Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Detroit Red Wings 10-7. Austin Matthews tallied his league-leading 37th goal of the season and collected three-assist while rookie Michael Bunting had a goal and four assists. Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek had a four-point night (one goal, three assists) while rookie winger Lucas Raymond scored twice and added an assist. The Leafs sit three points behind the second-place Lightning in the Atlantic Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At one point, the Leafs led 7-2 before the Wings made it interesting by cutting the lead to 7-6 and then to 8-7 before the Leafs finally put it away. It wasn’t a good night for either club’s defenses or goaltenders. The Leafs’ Jack Campbell gave way to Petr Mrazek after giving up four goals early in the third period while the Wings Alex Nedeljkovic got the hook in the first period but returned in the third.
Edmonton Oilers forward Derek Ryan netted his first career hat trick as his club hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, handing the latter their third-straight defeat. Mikko Koskinen kicked out 44 shots and Connor McDavid collected two assists for the Oilers, who opened a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 61 points. The Panthers (75 points) remain second overall in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Oilers as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the game in the first period with a suspected shoulder injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.
The league-leading Colorado Avalanche (82 points) got two unanswered goals by J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon to down the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Darcy Kuemper turned aside 34 shots for the Avs, who sit six points over the Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings. The Golden Knights have just one victory in their last six contests and six in third place in the Pacific Division with 62 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ stumble could force them into the trade market before the March 21 deadline. There’s speculation they’re looking for goaltending help with starter Robin Lehner sidelined by what’s believed to be a shoulder injury.
Speaking of the Pacific Division, the Calgary Flames (68 points) hold a three-point lead over the second-place Los Angeles Kings after thumping the Minnesota Wild 7-3. Matthew Tkachuk and Tyler Toffoli each scored twice and picked up an assist. Flames defenseman Oscar Kylington left the game in the third period after an awkward fall into the boards but head coach Darryl Sutter said he’ll be fine. The Wild sit in third place in the Central Division with 65 points.
The Kings, meanwhile, remain three points behind the Flames by dropping the New York Islanders 5-2 to extend their winning streak to five games. Trevor Moore and Matt Roy each had a goal and an assist while Cal Petersen picked up the win with a 26-save performance. Islanders center Mathew Barzal left the game with a lower-body injury as did Zdeno Chara with an upper-body injury.
Tristan Jarry turned in a 27-save shutout and Evgeni Malkin potted the only goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the New York Rangers 1-0 to snap a three-game losing skid. With 72 points, the Penguins moved one point ahead of the Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored two goals and chipped in an assist to lead his club to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. With 66 points, the Bruins have won four straight and moved one point up on the Washington Capitals into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Sharks have lost 10 of their last 12 and also lost defenseman Mario Ferraro to a leg injury.
As for the Capitals, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Cam Atkinson scored and set up another while Carter Hart made 27 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals hold a 10-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets but they’ve been struggling in recent weeks. There’s talk they could go shopping for a goaltender or a top-six winger before the March 21 trade deadline.
The Montreal Canadiens extended their winning streak to five games by nipping the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Artturi Lehkonen scored both of the Canadiens’ goals while Andrew Hammond made 26 saves against his former team. Colin White scored for the Senators in his season debut after being sidelined by shoulder surgery.
THE SCORE: Wayne Gretzky called upon the international hockey world to ban Russia from participating in the 2022 World Junior Championship in Edmonton as a protest over that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Gretzky pointed to Poland’s Men’s soccer team as inspiration as that club intends to boycott its World Cup playoff game against Russia on March 24.
SPORTSNET: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek took to Twitter calling on the NHL to suspend the contracts of all Russian players in the wake of Russia’s actions against Ukraine. He also criticized Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin over his “no more war” remarks on Friday, calling Ovechkin an “ablist” and a “liar” among other pointed comments.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL won’t be suspending the contracts of Russian players. If they did, the NHL Players Association would immediately file grievances against the league. As for Gretzky’s remarks, there’s no indication of what the International Ice Hockey Federation intends to do regarding Russia’s participation in the WJC this summer.
YARDBARKER: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier remains a few weeks away from returning from a finger injury.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju will be sidelined for at least two games with a lower-body injury.
TSN: Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan entered COVID-19 protocol yesterday.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed defensemen Kyle Burroughs and Tucker Poolman on injured reserve.
The Blues express interest in Zdeno Chara, the factor that enticed Joe Thornton to the Florida Panthers, breakout candidates for 2021-22 and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC: Jeremy Rutherford reports a league source said the St. Louis Blues expressed interest in unrestricted free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara. The former Boston Bruins captain spent last season with the Washington Capitals.
Free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara (NHL Images).
Rutherford believes the Blues landing Chara is a long shot. A source said the 44-year-old blueliner has yet to decide where he’ll play this season. His family remains in Boston and he intends to remain close to them this season. The option remains for Chara to return to the Capitals for another season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bally Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland tweeted he was told the Blues aren’t an option for Chara. If he plays, his focus is to stay in the East to be close to his family.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers general manager Bill Zito credited his players for helping to lure Joe Thornton to the club. The 42-year-old center recently signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. Thornton cited how good the team looks and how well they played last season. He believes they’re close to Stanley Cup contention. Zito also said Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Roberto Luongo spoke with Thornton.
ESPN.COM: Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich, Vancouver Canucks forward Conor Garland and Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark are among Greg Wyshynski’s breakout candidates for 2021-22.
NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Cole Sillinger to a three-year entry-level contract. Son of former NHL center Mike Sillinger, the 18-year-old was selected 12th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights will be participating in next month’s Rookie Faceoff tournament. Their rookie squad will face off against those from the Arizona Coyotes, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings from Sept. 17-20 in Arizona. There was no tournament last season because of the shortened schedule and lack of a preseason.
SPORTSNET: Wayne Gretzky recently launches his first NFT collectibles on the new DraftKings platform.