NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2023
Updates on the Panthers and Golden Knights, the latest on the bidding for the Senators, Connecticut governor expresses interest in moving the Coyotes to Hartford, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines
STANLEY CUP FINAL NEWS
FLA HOCKEY NOW: Matthew Tkachuk’s status for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final remains uncertain after the Florida Panthers winger saw limited playing time in his club’s Game 4 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Florida head coach Paul Maurice said the club has two days to evaluate Tkachuk’s condition. It appears the Panthers star was playing with an injured shoulder during the 3-2 loss on Saturday.
CBS SPORTS: Tkachuk isn’t the only Panther nursing an injury. Winger Anthony Duclair is being evaluated to determine his availability for Tuesday’s crucial game. He was shaken up during Game 4. An update on his status is expected on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Tkachuk and Duclair for Game 5 would rob the Panthers of two of their leading scorers as they try to stave off elimination. Even if they play, their injuries could hamper their effectiveness.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel is expected to play in Game 5 on Tuesday in Las Vegas. Eichel left Game 4 during the second period when he suffered an upper-body injury after being struck with a puck off the stick of teammate Jonathan Marchessault. He returned to action in the third period.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports NHL officials have reportedly served notice to representatives of the estate of Eugene Melnyk to complete the sale of the Senators as soon as possible. The three remaining bidders are also pushing for a decision.
This comes after Toronto billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos recently withdrew his rumored $1 billion USD bid. He was reportedly frustrated about the ongoing selection process.
That has made Toronto billionaire businessman Michael Andlauer more aggressive in his pursuit of the franchise. He’s reportedly informed officials with the Melnyk estate and broker Galatito Sports Partner that he’s ready to sign immediately and wants this done. His bid is believed to be between $900 million and $950 million.
Andlauer and billionaire brothers Jeffrey and Michael Kimel are considered the two legitimate bidders remaining in the process. Los Angeles-based producer Neko Sparks has also made a bid but it’s being considered a fall-back position in case the other two bids fall through.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league could be understandably anxious after Apostolopoulos become the second major bidder in less than a month to withdraw from the process. Garrioch claims sources indicate the sale would be completed soon as it’s believed negotiations are in the final stages with the preferred bidder. It’s worth noting that Andlauer is now considered the front-runner and has NHL experience as he owns 10 percent of the Montreal Canadiens.
WTNH.COM: Connecticut governor Ned Lamont said he has a group in place to buy the troubled Arizona Coyotes and move them to Hartford. The club would replace the Whalers, which relocated to Carolina in 1997 and become the Hurricanes.
Lamont said the XL Center (formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center) would have to be refurbished to accommodate an NHL franchise.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said yesterday on Twitter, as much as I’d love to see the NHL return to Hartford, the league (especially Commissioner Gary Bettman) isn’t interested in relocating the Coyotes. They’ll continue fighting to keep the club in Arizona.
Should the league’s efforts fail, I expect their preference would be moving the Coyotes to a western US city such as Houston, Salt Lake City or Portland.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was disappointed that prospects Adam Fantilli and Leo Carlsson didn’t take part in the physical testing during last week’s NHL draft combine in Buffalo. The pair opted out citing their recent participation in the World Championships as a competitive disadvantage.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets have the third-overall pick in the upcoming draft. Fantilli or Carlsson could be available to the Jackets when it’s time to make their selection. Could their decision to skip the physical testing affect who Kekalainen chooses with that pick? We’ll find out during the opening round on June 28.
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers reports Jonathan Toews isn’t returning to the Chicago Blackhawks. He believes we’ll hear from Toews in the coming weeks whether he’ll retire or continue his NHL playing career with another club.
Power also wrote that the Blackhawks aren’t expected to re-sign their remaining unrestricted free agents after inking Andreas Athanasiou to a new contract last week. Those UFAs include goaltender Alex Stalock and winger Jujhar Khaira.
THE ATHLETIC: Retired Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is making a smooth transition as an in-studio NHL analyst for TNT.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: An upcoming ESPN documentary traces the Anaheim Ducks franchise from its founding 30 years ago based on a Disney movie to reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2003.
ECHL: The Florida Everblades are the Kelly Cup champions for the second straight year. They won the ECHL championship on Friday night with a four-game sweep of the Idaho Steelheads in front of a franchise-record crowd of 7,855 fans at Hertz Arena in Estero, Florida. The Everblades are the ECHL affiliate of the Florida Panthers and the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.