NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Evander Kane, participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported a meeting was held on Aug. 18 between the NHL, NHL Players Association, Buffalo Sabres, Jack Eichel and some medical professionals to attempt a resolution to the impasse between the club and the 24-year-old center.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Eichel prefers a disc replacement procedure to address the herniated disc in his neck while the club prefers neck fusion surgery. The meeting ended without a solution to the situation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The only solution at this point is for the Sabres to trade Eichel to a club that will approve his disc replacement surgery.

TVA SPORTS: Eichel also journeyed to Montreal yesterday, creating speculation on social media that he’d been traded to the Canadiens. The real reason is to attend the BioSteelSports camp. His participation will be off-ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens had kicked tires on Eichel earlier in the offseason to gauge the Sabres’ asking price. Conjecture linking the Sabres star to the Habs increased last week after he changed agents and intensified over the weekend after the Carolina Hurricanes signed Montreal center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.

If the Canadiens don’t match the Kotkaniemi offer sheet they’ll get the Hurricanes’ first-round pick and their third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. Some observers suggest they could package those picks with their own first-rounder plus a prospect for Eichel.

However, they’ll probably have to include a salaried player or two to comfortably fit Eichel’s $10 million annual average value within the constraints of their cap payroll. The Sabres could absorb part of Eichel’s cap hit but I doubt they’ll agree to do so. They’ll want him completely off their books.

That’s also taking into account putting Shea Weber and Paul Byron ($11.257 million in combined AAV) on long-term injury reserve. Weber could be out for the season but Byron is expected to return from offseason hip surgery in January.

TSN: Speaking of Kotkaniemi, Darren Dreger reports some close to the young center predicted in early July he’d played his final game with the Canadiens after being scratched from a Stanley Cup Final game.

TVA SPORTS’ Renaud Lavoie said sources told him the Kotkaniemi offer sheet was the brainchild of Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon and wasn’t GM Don Waddell’s idea.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would explain the reports claiming the Hurricanes attempted to acquire Kotkaniemi via trade and then gave the Habs a heads-up that they were going the offer-sheet route. The Canadiens have seven days from the date the offer sheet was signed (Aug. 28) to match.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports sources suggest an agreement is close between the NHL, NHLPA, IIHF and International Olympic Committee allowing NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. A decision could be announced next week.

NEW YORK POST: The latest chapter in Evander Kane’s turbulent summer sees him being granted a temporary restraining order against his estranged wife Anna. The San Jose Sharks winger accused her of hitting him on four different occasions and swinging around their infant daughter during a heated argument. The couple is currently going through a divorce. Kane is also under investigation by the NHL after Anna accused him of throwing games for money and abandoning their child to party in Europe.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Speaking of the Sharks, fans must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend their home games this season.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHLer Brandon Prust is temporarily leaving social media after apologizing for a tweet telling a woman she should be forced into the sex trade as part of his argument against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington reports the NHL is contemplating a Heritage Classic game between the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs in Hamilton, Ontario this season. The game would take place at Tim Horton’s Field, which hosts the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Filip Gustavsson to a two-year contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 12, 2020

An update on the plans for next season plus the latest on Tuukka Rask, Cam Talbot, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL NETWORK: Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes we’ll learn more on the NHL’s plans to open the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 over the next two weeks. The league and the NHLPA will use that period to see how quickly the season can begin and what it will look like.

Friedman believes a rumored proposal to the NHL board of governors for their meeting today is unlikely as it might be too soon. However, he thinks the governors will be updated over what’s being discussed.

He also feels the league is serious about starting on New Year’s Day. He points to MLB and NFL not playing in a quarantine bubble, resulting in cancellations and things beyond their control. The best option might be to start as early as possible and adjust on the fly like MLB did and the NFL is doing. That would leave a week or two open at the end of the season to make up games if necessary.

If they start on Jan. 1, the number of games played would be 56 and 72. Friedman’s sources didn’t mention 48 games, though he didn’t rule it out. What the schedule will look like, how many games the players are willing to play per week, whether they’ll be played in hub cities or not remain to be determined.

Friedman also said there’s a growing sense from teams that they want to play in their own buildings, though there’s concern from a few teams that they won’t be able to because of government regulations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, the NHL and NHLPA don’t have a lot of time to work out the details for a Jan. 1 start to the season. Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the two sides are in constant daily contact but their return-to-play committee has yet to hold its first meeting.

A Jan. 1 start means training camps must open for most clubs in early December, with last season’s seven non-playoff teams (Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose) opening camps in late November. All players must return to their home cities before then. Sorting out an exhibition schedule that incorporates the Christmas holidays must be worked out. A regular-season schedule must be planned out and coordinated with their broadcasting partners.

I’m not saying these details can’t be worked out in short order, but the league and the players must get cracking to reach a workable agreement to drop the puck on New Year’s Day.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said his club is “full steam ahead” with goaltender Tuukka Rask for 2020-21. “I think everything that happened in the bubble has been addressed, dealt with,” said Cassidy, referring to Rask’s leaving the team for family reasons during the 2020 playoffs. “We’re moving on, getting ready to win next year. That includes our goaltender.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s silly to even imagine the Bruins not returning with Rask next season. They have no viable replacement options within their system or via the trade and free-agent markets. Rask’s departure had the full support of the club and his teammates. I don’t believe it was an issue or will be one going forward.

NBC SPORTS: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is part of a fundraising drive that raised $17 million to save Alabama-Huntsville’s hockey program. Talbot is a UAH alumnus. He pointed out it’s still important for the UAH Chargers to get into a college conference. They’re the only NCAA Division 1 hockey program in the Southeastern United States.

SWISS HOCKEY NEWS: A recent report claims NHL free-agent center Carl Soderberg is seeking a well-paid deal in Switzerland. That could be difficult given the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. Soderberg is also receiving interest from Sweden.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle is making good progress in his recovery from a broken bone in his hand. Stuetzle was selected third overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: One year after Don Cherry was fired by Sportsnet, Ken Campbell believes the hockey world is better off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cherry’s supporters believe otherwise. For what it’s worth, I think his replacements, Kevin Bieksa and Brian Burke, did a good job. Bieksa is a breath of fresh air breaking down plays and is a natural TV personality. Burke provides the inside hockey observations and old-school attitude without veering far off-topic like Cherry used to do.

SHL: Former NHL goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has announced his retirement. “The Monster” played eight seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers from 2009-10 to 2016-17, with a career record of 72 wins, 67 losses and 23 overtime losses, 2.88 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and seven shutouts in 179 games. He spent the last four seasons with Linkopings HC of the Swedish Hockey League.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Gustavsson in his future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2017



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 10, 2017

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo picked up career win 448 in a 3-0 shutout over the New Jersey Devils.

Game recaps, stars of the week,  Luongo and Ovechkin reach milestones & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM:  Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo picked up career win 448 and career shutout 73 as he backstopped his club to a 3-0 blanking of the New Jersey Devils. Luongo moves past Terry Sawchuk into fifth on the all-time wins list. 

Alexander Ovechkin tied Montreal Canadiens legend Maurice Richard in career goals (544) and moved to within one point of 1,000 to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-1 victory over the Canadiens. Ovechkin scored a goal and set up two others, leaving him tied with Richard for 29th on the all-time goal list. 

Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves as the Winnipeg Jets shut out the Calgary Flames 2-0. Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler tallied for the Jets. 

Patrick Sharp and Radek Faksa each collected three points and Jiri Hudler scored his first goal of the season as the Dallas Stars downed the Los Angeles Kings 6-4. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty each had two points for the Kings. 

TSN.CA: New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner, Edmonton Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending January 8, 2017. 

NEWSDAY: Despite his club’s struggles this season, New York Islanders captain John Tavares insists he remains committed to improving the team. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles’ struggles this season prompted some Toronto-area pundits to daydream about Tavares joining the Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Far too early to start musing about that. Given the rise of young Leafs such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, the Leafs won’t need to bring in an expensive free agent in 2018. 

SUN-SENTINEL.com: Former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant claims his strong opinions, rather than management’s devotion to analytics, were responsible for his firing. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Noble of Gallant to put the blame on himself, but I believe panic in the front office was the reason he was fired. I don’t expect he’ll be unemployed for long. 

EDMONTON SUN:  The Oilers placed backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson on waivers and demoted rookie winger Jesse Puljujarvi to their AHL affiliate. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH:  The Blue Jackets placed backup goalie Curtis McElhinney on waivers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the Sun article observed, maybe the Oilers will put in a claim for McElhinney. 

VANCOUVER SUN’s Ben Kuzma reports via Twitter that Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton could be placed on injured reserve after blocking a shot with his left hand on Friday. 

Freelance writer Dhiren Mahiban reports via Twitter former NHL center Mike Richards still hopes to play this season and could look at Europe for options. 

YAHOO SPORTS:  Adidas is phasing out third jerseys, leaving some NHL teams to decide whether to adopt their alternative jerseys as their primary ones.