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.










NHL One-Hit Wonders: Atlantic Division

NHL One-Hit Wonders: Atlantic Division

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2018

Playoff game recaps, injury updates, Norris Trophy nominees revealed and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins pushed the Toronto Maple Leafs closer to the brink of elimination with a 3-1 victory in Game 4 of their opening-round series. The Bruins hold a 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap things up on Saturday in Boston. Tuukka Rask made 31 saves, Brad Marchand scored the winning goal and David Pastrnak collected two assists for the Bruins, who were playing without top center Patrice Bergeron (lower-body injury, day-to-day).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs dominated this game but a couple of defensive breakdowns led to consecutive two-on-one goals by Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, giving the Bruins an insurmountable two-goal lead.

Evgeny Kuznetsov’s three-point game helped the Washington Capitals defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 4 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images)

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists as the Washington Capitals downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 to tie their best-of-seven series at two games apiece. Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson each had a goal and an assist and Braden Holtby made 23 saves for the win. The series returns to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets looked surprising flat in this game, showing little of the spark from the first three games of the series. Secondary scoring has become a problem for the Jackets, as they’re not getting much production beyond leading scorers Artemin Panarin and Cam Atkinson. 

Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators are this season’s three finalists for the Norris Trophy.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (lower-body injury) hopes to return for Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. Couturier missed Game 4 after suffering his injury in practice the day before.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist (upper-body injury) will miss Game 5 tonight against the Flyers.

Andrew Hammond will replace sidelined Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier tonight in Game 5 of their series against the Nashville Predators.

The Predators will be without forward Ryan Hartman, who received a one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg in Game 4. 

New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He hasn’t been ruled out for Game 5 on Saturday. 

The Lightning signed forward Michael Bournival to a one-year, two-way contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair has reached out to a young Nova Scotia goaltender who was the victim of a racial slur. “I just told him that he does belong,” Duclair said.“He can do whatever he wants in this world.”

BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres owner Terry Pegula said his club will not raise season-ticket prices for 2018-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how poorly the Sabres played this season they would’ve had a difficult time justifying a price hike.

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2018

Game recaps, 2019 NHL Draft host city revealed plus updates on Patrice Bergeron, Matt Murray and more in your morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Eric Staal’s hat trick powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 beatdown of the slumping St. Louis Blues. Staal had five points in the game, as did teammate Jason Zucker (one goal, four assists). Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals for the Blues.

New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall set a franchise record with a 15-game points streak. (Photo via NHL Images).

 New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall set a franchise record by extending his points streak to 15 games as his club edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray missed the game with a concussion suffered during Monday’s practice and there’s no timetable for his return.

Evander Kane made an immediate positive impression in his first game with the San Jose Sharks, collecting two assists to help his new team defeat the Edmonton Oilers 5-2.

Ryan Hartman made a memorable debut with the Nashville Predators, scoring the winning goal in his club’s 6-5 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Hartman was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. Jets’ trade-deadline acquisition Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist for his new club.

The Boston Bruins scored four unanswered goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit and defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on an overtime goal by Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins were playing without center Patrice Bergeron, who is sidelined at least two weeks with a fractured bone in his right foot.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals to lead the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. With the win, the Capitals (79 points) regained first place in the Metropolitan Division.

An overtime goal by Jared McCann gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Panthers have won seven of their last 10 and sit five points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop made 38 saves as his club blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0. Devin Shore and Tyler Seguin were the goal scorers.

The Los Angeles Kings moved into third in the Pacific Division by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Kings netminder Jack Campbell collected his first NHL victory by kicking out 41 shots.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained knee.

SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks are expected to announce today that they’ll be hosting the 2019 NHL Draft.

The Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens hold the most draft picks in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Wings have 11 picks while the Rangers and Canadiens each hold 10. The Rangers also hold the most picks in the first three rounds (seven) while the Wings and Canadiens each have six.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you’re fans of those teams, that’s at least something positive for fans of those clubs to pin their hopes to over the remainder of an otherwise miserable season. 

 

 











NHL Rumor Mill – November 9, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – November 9, 2017

Latest on the Columbus Blue Jackets, NY Rangers, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks plus updates on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Andrew Hammond in your NHL rumor mill. 

THE ATHLETIC: In the aftermath of the Matt Duchene trade, Pierre LeBrun reports the Columbus Blue Jackets remain in the market for a center. They were very interested in Duchene before he was shipped to the Ottawa Senators and hope to acquire a top-six center before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. LeBrun also reports the banged-up Boston Bruins are eyeing the market for a top-nine forward. 

In a recent mailbag segment, LeBrun’s colleague Aaron Portzline lists Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as two names floating around the rumor mill who the Jackets could keep an eye on.

Asked about the possible  cost of acquiring New York Islanders center John Tavares (assuming they could also re-sign him), Portzline speculates it could be “(Pierre-Luc) Dubois, Gabriel Carlsson, Sonny Milano, Elvis Merzlikins and a first-round pick.” If they can’t re-sign him, “Carlsson, Milano and a first-round pick.”

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Bob McKenzie telling Toronto’s TSN 1050 the New York Rangers “wanted Duchene badly” but weren’t willing to part with young defenseman Brady Skjei. He also believes the Bruins want to bolster their injury-ravaged roster but hasn’t seen what his team is like when healthy. 

THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle believes the return the Colorado Avalanche received for Duchene indicates just how costly it’ll be for the San Jose Sharks to find a suitable replacement for the departed Patrick Marleau. If the Sharks do pull off a trade for a scoring forward it’ll likely cost them a young defenseman. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Duchene and Kyle Turris off the block, the pickings are currently slim for teams seeking a scoring forward/center.

Galchenyuk has improved following a slow start and has moved back up the Habs depth chart. I think teams are calling the Habs to look into his availability but I don’t see them parting with him now.

Nugent-Hopkins’ $6 million annual cap hit is difficult to move. If the Oilers are willing to shop him they’ll likely want a scoring right wing back.

As for Tavares, he’s currently unavailable and there’s no certainty the Islanders will move him by the trade deadline.

The Blue Jackets, Rangers, Bruins and Sharks will likely continue to monitor the trade market, but they could be waiting until January before some better options appear. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has resurfaced in the trade rumor mill, but Coyotes GM John Chayka quickly dismissed the speculation. “He’s never once complained to me or talked about greener pastures,” Chayka said, insisting he hasn’t had serious discussions about moving the blueliner. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ lousy start to this season explains why Ekman-Larsson is popping up again in media trade chatter. He lacks no-trade protection and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2019. I don’t believe he’ll be dealt this season, but I expect his name will be heard more frequently in trade talk in the offseason.

The Coyotes have been mired in mediocrity for the last five seasons. The temptation to join a playoff contender could be strong for Ekman-Larsson as free agency approaches. If the Coyotes do put him on the market they’ll seek a substantial return. They’ll get it, too. 

TSN: Goaltender Andrew Hammond’s tenure with the Colorado Avalanche could be short. It’s believed Avs GM Joe Sakic hopes to trade the netminder, who was part of the return they received in the Matt Duchene deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price is likely a draft pick or prospect.