NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Tom Wilson receives a seven-game suspension, Wayne Gretzky eulogizes his father Walter, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers got two goals from Ryan Strome to defeat the New Jersey Devils 6-3, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Adam Fox opened the scoring for the Rangers with a beautiful end-to-end goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils (16 points) looked like they could contend for a playoff berth several weeks ago. Their recent skid sent them tumbling toward the bottom of the MassMutual East Division standings, one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres. They could be joining the list of potential sellers at the April 12 trade deadline.

Speaking of the Sabres, they dropped their sixth straight in a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders. Mathew Barzal’s between-the-legs game-tying goal launched was the start of a four-goal outburst in the second period for the Islanders as they extended their points streak to seven games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the win, the Islanders (32 points) sit atop the East Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images)

Evgeni Malkin scored and collected an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Flyers winger Travis Konecny also had a goal and assist as his club is tied with the Penguins (27 points) but holds fourth place in the East on win percentage (.643) with two games in hand.

A hat trick by Noel Acciari powered the Florida Panthers over the Nashville Predators 6-2. Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (34 points), who are tied with the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed center Matt Duchene on injured reserve. He will be sidelined three-to-five weeks with a lower-body injury.

Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller each had a goal and two assists as the Vancouver Canucks doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to sweep their two-game set. Canucks goaltender Thatcher kicked out 37 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Demko’s play has improved since mid-February. He’ll likely get the bulk of the starts in the coming weeks as the Canucks (24 points) sit four points out of a playoff spot in the Scotia North Division.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves while Lance Pitlick tallied twice for the Coyotes. The win puts Arizona (25 points) just two behind the Wild for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Honda West Division.

Carey Price turned aside 28 shots, Brendan Gallagher notched two goals and Tomas Tatar collected three assists as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. Josh Anderson scored in his first game with the Habs after being sidelined for three games by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most convincing Canadiens win since their 6-2 victory over the Canucks on Feb. 1. They’re now 2-1-2 in their first five games under interim coach Dominique Ducharme.

The Anaheim Ducks snapped a nine-game winless skid with a 5-4 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche. The Ducks blew a 2-0 lead but overcame a 4-2 deficit on goals by Troy Terry and Kevin Shattenkirk to set the stage for Ryan Getzlaf’s game-winner in the extra frame. Terry scored twice and Rickard Rakell had a three-point night. Mikko Rantanen replied with two of his own for the Avalanche.

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made 21 saves for his first career NHL shutout to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-0. Roope Hintz had a goal and an assist for the Stars to snap their four-game losing skid.

Vladimir Tarasenko’s season debut following offseason shoulder surgery couldn’t help the St. Louis Blues from dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Los Angeles Kings. Adrian Kempe tallied the game-winner while Anze Kopitar scored twice for the Kings. Tarasenko was held scoreless while teammate David Perron had a goal and an assist. With 25 points, the Kings sit two back of the fourth-place Wild in the West Division.

Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his league-leading fourth shutout in a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Alex Tuch scored twice to extend his goal streak to four games. Golden Knights captain Mark Stone left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. Vegas sits atop the West Division with 33 points.

The Edmonton Oilers got goals by Kailer Yamamoto and Connor McDavid to edge the Calgary Flames 3-2. McDavid also had two assists on the night. The Oilers (30 points) sit two up on the fourth-place Canadiens in the North Division and two back of the Jets.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The NHL suspended Capitals winger Tom Wilson for seven games for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo on Friday. Carlo was taken to the hospital for treatment overnight but was released yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Wilson’s history of reckless hits resulting in four fines and three suspensions it’s not surprising the league handed down this judgement. He’s now been suspended for a total of 30 games in the NHL career.

SPORTING NEWS: Wayne Gretzky eulogized his father Walter during the latter’s funeral yesterday in Brantford, Ontario. “He was a remarkable man who loved life, loved family,” said Wayne. “We’d be a way better world if there were so many more people like my dad.” He also pointed out COVID-19 played no part in Walter’s passing, indicating he’d suffered a bad hip injury several weeks ago. He passed away last week at age 82.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rest in peace, Walter. Your legacy will live as long as your son’s.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights were left scrambling for new accommodations after the San Jose hotel they were staying in abruptly closed due to bankruptcy.

THE SCORE: A small number of NHL players in the United States have begun receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Some received it because of the city where they lived where the vaccine became available.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2021

Walter Gretzky, the father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at 82, the Flames replace head coach Geoff Ward with Darryl Sutter, plus recaps of Thursday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne Gretzky, passed away at age 82 after battling several illnesses including Parkinson’s disease. The world’s most famous hockey dad, Walter’s guidance and tutelage helped develop Wayne into the greatest player in NHL history.

Walter Gretzky passed away at age 82 (NHL.com).

For my sister and my 3 brothers, Dad was our team captain – he guided, protected, and led our family every day, every step of the way,” wrote Wayne on Twitter in announcing Walter’s passing. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Gretzky family and Walter’s friends. He will be greatly missed. A kind, friendly man who devoted considerable time to charitable causes and always had time for a fan, Walter’s passing leaves a void in the hockey world.

 

The Calgary Flames’ 7-3 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators was overshadowed by their firing of head coach Geoff Ward following the game. His replacement is Darryl Sutter, who coached the Flames from 2002 to 2006 and was also their general manager from 2003 to 2010. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Flames signed Sutter to a three-year contract (this season plus two more).

Flames winger Dillon Dube tallied his first career NHL hat trick while Matthew Tkachuk collected three assists. Sam Bennett was made a healthy scratch from this contest as a “coach’s decision” by Ward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward became the Flames’ interim head coach in November 2019 and was named their full-time head coach last September. The club’s inconsistency this season has threatened to derail their playoff hopes. It’ll be interesting to see how they perform under Sutter, a no-nonsense coach who guided the Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final and went on to win two Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014.

The New York Islanders extended their home record to 8-0-2 by dropping the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Matt Martin scored twice and Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist. Sabres winger Taylor Hall tallied his first goal since the club’s season-opener on Jan. 14.

Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick to lead the New York Rangers over the New Jersey Devils 6-1. It was a costly win for the Rangers as goaltender Igor Shesterkin left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury. Struggling Blueshirts center Mika Zibanejad had his ice time reduced, including being bench for the first half of the second period. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced captain Nico Hischier is week-to-week with a sinus fracture after being hit in the face by the puck during Saturday’s loss to Washington.

Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov finally faced off against brother Evgeny Svechnikov in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Andrei had a goal and an assist while Evgeny picked up an assist for the Red Wings. Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player discipline for a dangerous slew foot on Wings forward Robby Fabbri.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Claude Giroux scored twice, including the game-winner. Flyers forward Joel Farabee missed the game as he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Penguin captain Sidney Crosby came off the list yesterday and picked up an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Farabee is just one of three players on the protocol list, joining Boston’s Charlie Coyle and San Jose’s Tomas Hertl.

Paul Stastny scored twice and Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets nipped the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Corey Perry had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who’ve dropped six games in overtime this season and are 3-5-4 in their last 12 games. They hold a two-point over the Flames for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Scotia North Division.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Killorn. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s shutout streak ended at three games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Blackhawks as they outplayed the Lightning through the first two periods and carried a 2-0 lead into the third.

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad had a career-best four-point performance (two goals, two assists) as his club held off the Nashville Predators 5-4. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov collected three helpers. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson each had a three-point game for the Predators.

The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

A two-goal performance by Jake Virtanen lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 upset of the league-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. Canucks center Elias Pettersson missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was fined $5,000.00 by the league’s department of player discipline for spearing Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic on Wednesday.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm will be sidelined for six weeks with a fractured wrist.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks forward Joachim Blichfeld received a two-game suspension by the league for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon on Wednesday. MacKinnon’s status remains uncertain as the Avs have yet to release an update on his condition.










The NHL’s Most Unassailable Records

The NHL’s Most Unassailable Records

 










Chase Is On To Reach Career Milestones During 2021 NHL Regular Season

Chase Is On To Reach Career Milestones During 2021 NHL Regular Season

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2020

The NHL is still pushing for a mid-January start to 2020-21, the Wild sign Andrew Hammond as Alex Stalock remains sidelined, the Blackhawks name Stan Bowman president of hockey operations, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman said the 2020-21 season could start in mid-January with a shortened schedule, a temporary divisional realignment with one of them composing all seven Canadian teams, division games only, and games in home arenas, hub cities or a combination of both.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (NHL.com).

Bettman indicated discussions between the NHL and NHL Players Association are ongoing as they try to adjust to government regulations at every level arising from COVID-19. He reiterated that playing an entire season in a quarantine bubble similar to the 2020 playoffs isn’t feasible. However, the league could consider moving teams toward a hub if enough of them cannot hold training camps or games in their home arenas due to local restrictions.

The commissioner maintains the biggest challenge facing the league remains to ensure the health and safety of the players and the support staff while ensuring they’re not doing anything that puts local communities at risk.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports five cities are under consideration if the NHL begins the season in hub locations. “Columbus, Newark, Vegas, and Toronto/Edmonton” are potential hubs but they won’t be permanent bubbles as in the playoffs.

KUKLA’S KORNER: cites TSN’s Frank Seravalli tweeting he’s heard the NHL is considering a triple header for opening night, centered around the Tampa Bay Lightning raising its 2020 Stanley Cup banner (“vs. CHI?”), with a “big East clash (NYR/BOS?) first and marquee West matchup late (COL/STL?).” While the league remains focused on a Jan. 13 start, Seravalli said they’re not beholden to that date. “Could be a week later.”

THE SCORE: cited Seravalli reporting Bettman sought the council of Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institutes of Health over the course of the pandemic. Fauci recommended the best way to start the NHL season safely was to do so in hub cities. While that’s not the preference of the teams and the players, Seravalli said that option remains on the table.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Quebec premier Francois Legault believes the Canadiens and the league can put measures in place to protect the players. The Habs are hoping to receive permission to stage training camp at its practice facility in Brossard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m growing skeptical that the league can stage its season-opener on Jan. 13. Recent reports suggest a vote of approval by the league board of governors and the NHLPA executive would have to come by the end of this week to meet the necessary timelines.

The 2020-21 season will take place. The team owners and the players want it to happen. However, it could take a little longer than expected to reach an agreement because of the work required to address the issues raised by the pandemic. Jan. 13 remains possible but I wouldn’t be surprised if the season opener gets moved into late January.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. It’s expected promising Kaapo Kahkonen will back up starter Cam Talbot to begin the 2020-21 season. Talbot was signed in October to a three-year, $11 million contract.

The Wild also confirmed the signing of goalie Andrew Hammond to a one-year, two-way contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hammond will likely start the season with their affiliate in Iowa when the AHL begins its season on Feb. 5.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks named Stan Bowman as their president of hockey operations. He’ll retain his role as general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move has raised questions over whether Bowman can be his own boss. I wonder if this is a possible transition move if ownership decides at some point to make a change in the GM’s office.

CALGARY SUN: Former NHL goaltender Jason LaBarbera takes over as the Flames full-time goalie coach as the club announced the creation of a restructured goaltending department.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Hadall, the man charged with theft of hockey memorabilia from Walter Gretzky, has deep ties with the Gretzky family, as well as Hockey Hall-of-Famers Doug Gilmour and Bobby Orr. Hadall was slated for induction into the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame in Parry Sound, Ontario.

Meanwhile, Ontario Provincial Police officer June Dobson also faces fraud and breach of trust charges in connection to a stick from Wayne Gretzky’s childhood sold to a memorabilia dealer for $6,000.00. The two cases aren’t related but the Dobson case stemmed from the Hadall investigation. She was a friend of Walter Gretzky for many years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both have not been convicted of the charges and remain innocent until proven guilty. If the latter, they would’ve taken advantage of one of the kindest men in hockey.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2020

Updates on negotiations for the 2020-21 season, two people arrested for stealing Wayne Gretzky memorabilia, Mark Messier loses money on a cannabis investment deal, the latest on Oskar Lindblom and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports issues such as roster size and taxi squads are slowing down negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA aimed at starting the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13. Frank Seravalli said the effect on the salary cap of transferring a player between the roster and the taxi squad is also part of the discussion. At this point, it would be handled similar to the rules regarding a demotion to the AHL.

Pierre LeBrun points out teams are at the mercy of local health restrictions, especially in Canada. As of Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators each have over 30 players that have returned, while the Winnipeg Jets have nine, the Montreal Canadiens under 10, the Edmonton Oilers have 12 and the Calgary Flames 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those health restrictions vary from city to city and province to province. It’s affecting quarantine rules and use of training facilities, which could explain why the Jets and Canadiens have a low number of players in their respective cities.

Dreger reports the league is looking into allowing a limited number of fans to attend games in select markets depending on the restrictions of each city in each state. Seravalli points out that will be only if the league can open in all 31 of its cities. That remains in doubt as some teams, like the San Jose Sharks, are planning to open training camp in Arizona because of restrictions in their own market.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports sources are saying the concept of hub cities is no longer on the drawing board. He said each team will play their regular-season home games in their own buildings with travel limited only to games within a team’s division.

Because of the new COVID-19 vaccines, the NHL feels confident it can stage a regular season in which teams travel from city to city despite the strict protocols. The league remains adamant it will not attempt to jump the queue to obtain vaccinations ahead of others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This NH season is going to open but the projected Jan. 13 start date could change. A vote approving the format for ’20-’21 needs a vote of approval by the league board of governors and the NHLPA’s 31-member executive. It’s required by the end of this week to meet the timeline for a Jan. 13 start. That date could be pushed into late January if more time is required to work out the details.

SPORTSNET: Two people were arrested by Brantford, Ontario police after Wayne Gretzky memorabilia was stolen from his father’s home. A three-month investigation involving searches of homes in Ontario and Alberta by police (including the RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police) recovered several items with an estimated combined value of over $500K USD. The investigation is ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walter Gretzky is the world’s most famous hockey dad and among the kindest people in hockey. Shame on those people for stealing from him.

YAHOO SPORTS: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier is suing the CEO of an Alberta cannabis company after he allegedly lost his $500K investment. Messier claimed the company also used his celebrity to raise $30 million in funding.

THE SCORE: Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom is cancer-free just over a year after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. He finished his treatments on July 2 and suited up with the Flyers in the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Lindblom enjoys a long, cancer-free life.

TSN: cites The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Minnesota Wild are close to signing free-agent goaltender Andrew Hammond. He speculates this could mean Wild backup Alex Stalock could be hurt entering training camp. Stalock reportedly hasn’t been on the ice.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Former San Jose Sharks forward Melker Karlsson has signed with Swedish club Skelleftea AIK for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication if Karlsson has an out-clause if he signs with an NHL club. The report indicating it’s for the remainder of the season suggests he didn’t get any NHL offers to his liking. The flattened salary cap for this season could be a factor, which doesn’t bode well for comparable players still available in the UFA market.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have promoted Ryan Miller (no, not the NHL goaltender) as their new assistant general manager.

WHL.COM: The Western Hockey League has delayed the start of its 2020-21 season because of public health restrictions across Western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest. The board of governors will meet in January to discuss possible start dates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the development of WHL players hoping to be selected in the 2021 NHL Draft.