NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2020

The Golden Knights eliminate the Blackhawks, the Capitals stave off elimination by the Isles, the Flyers and Stars are on the verge of advancing,  and the hockey world mourns Dale Hawerchuk in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Tuch’s third-period goal snapped a 3-3 tie as the Vegas Golden Knights edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 to win Game 5 and their opening-round series. The Golden Knights overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficit. Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist for Vegas, who face the Western Conference’s lowest-remaining seed in the next round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned series victory by the Golden Knights over a plucky, but over-matched Blackhawks club. Vegas dominated the play through most of this series and probably would’ve swept it if not for Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, who likely earned a new contract with the Hawks following his strong postseason play.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals avoided being swept by the New York Islanders as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 win in Game 4 of their first-round series. Evgeny Kuznetsov sparked the comeback by cutting the deficit to 2-1, setting the stage for Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying and game-winning goals. Isles winger Cal Clutterbuck left the game in the second period following a low hit by Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas. An update on his condition is expected today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles seemed to have this game in the bag after taking a 2-0 lead into the second period, but their energy sagged as the desperate Capitals fought back, dominating the Isles at even strength. It’ll be interesting to see if the Caps can maintain that energy in Game 5 on Thursday.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart become the second-youngest goaltender in NHL history to post back-to-back playoff shutouts as he and his teammates blanked the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in Game 4 of their first-round series. Hart made 29 saves while Michael Raffl and Philippe Myers scored.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for my take of Game 4. The Flyers lead the series 3-1 and can wrap things up tonight in Game 5.

The Dallas Stars took a 3-2 series lead over the Calgary Flames by hanging on for a 2-1 victory in Game 5. John Klingberg’s third-period goal held up as the winner while Anton Khudobin made 28 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have done a good job stifling the Flames’ top scorers. Johnny Gaudreau has just three points (two of those in one game) while Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm have been limited to two assists each. The Flames also miss feisty sidelined winger Matthew Tkachuk.

HEADLINES

WINNIPEG SUN: Dale Hawerchuk passed away at age 57 from stomach cancer. The Hall-of-Famer spent 16 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, and Philadelphia Flyers, amassing 518 goals and 1,409 points in 1,188 games. It was with the Jets that he had his best seasons, with six 100-plus point seasons in nine years in Winnipeg, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1981-82. He also played for Team Canada in their memorable 1987 Canada Cup series with the Soviet Union. Hawerchuk went on to coach the OHL’s Barrie Colts from 2010-11 until his illness forced him to step down in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Hawerchuk’s family and friends. He was overshadowed during his prime by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, but he was among the NHL’s top centers during the 1980s, as well as the Jets’ franchise player.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has returned to St. Louis to have his surgically-repaired left shoulder reevaluated. He won’t return for the remainder of his club’s series against the Vancouver Canucks and could be sidelined even longer.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: There’s a chance Bruins winger David Pastrnak could suit up for today’s Game 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed injury since Game 1.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2020

Updates on John Chayka’s messy departure from the Coyotes, 24 teams travel to hub cities for the upcoming playoff tournament, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHAYKA TERMINATES CONTRACT WITH COYOTES

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes yesterday released a blunt statement indicating John Chayka terminated his contract as their general manager. “Chayka has chosen to quit on a strong and competitive team, a dedicated staff, and the Arizona Coyotes fans, the greatest fans in the NHL,” the statement read. Assistant GM Steve Sullivan is taking over the role on an interim basis.

Former Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka (NHL.com)

Chayka countered with his own statement, indicating how much he enjoyed his four years in the role, his work in building the club into a playoff contender, how much he loved the players, coaches, staff, and fans, and how he wished he could be with the club in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “Sadly, the situation created by ownership made that an impossibility”.

The relationship between Chayka and Coyotes ownership recently soured over a possible job opportunity. The club originally gave Chayka approval to explore the opportunity but then changed its mind.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources are claiming Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo will ask NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to adjudicate the split between the club and Chayka. Friedman heard rumors linking Chayka to the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. The job offer was reportedly for a much larger role than a general manager position.

TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted sources told him the Sabres weren’t the mystery team supposedly expressing interest in Chayka.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think anyone’s surprised this has quickly deteriorated into a “they said-he said” situation following several days of speculation over Chayka’s status with the Coyotes. What’s clear is things fell apart quickly. This is yet another chapter in the years of uncertainty plaguing the Coyotes, providing fodder for critics to cast doubt over the club’s long-term stability in their current market.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

NHL.COM: The league yesterday released the Phase 4 player rosters for the 24 teams participating in the playoff tournament that opens this Saturday. Each club was limited to 31 players it could bring into the Secure Zones in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Concerns over a potential spike in positive COVID-19 cases during the recent two-week training camp period of Phase 3 proved unfounded. That’s a credit to the league, the teams, and the players for maintaining the strict health and social-distancing guidelines. A COVID outbreak could occur in one of those secure zones during Phase 4, but the teams will be better protected in those zones that they were in their home cities during Phase 3. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is remaining in Tampa Bay to deal with a personal matter. He’s expected to join his teammates in Toronto on Friday.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Lightning, captain Steven Stamkos remains day-to-day with an injury suffered during Phase 2 training. He’ll miss the exhibition game Wednesday against the Florida Panthers but is expected to suit up when the post-season begins.

CBS SPORTS: Oskar Lindblom was included in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 31-team roster and traveled to Toronto with his teammates. Lindblom recently completed treatment for a rare form of bone cancer. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to play when the playoff tournament begins Saturday.

THE SCORE: Pictures have emerged showing the inside of the secure zones for NHL players in Edmonton and Toronto.

HAWERCHUK ILL, SHACK PASSES AWAY

TSN: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk is battling a recurrence of his stomach cancer. He’s completed chemotherapy in April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hawerchuk for a speedy recovery.

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL forward Eddie Shack passed away Saturday at 83 following a battle with throat cancer. Nicknamed “Eddie the Entertainer”, the popular Shack spent 17 seasons with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, and Pittsburgh Penguins from 1958-59 through 1974-75. He won four Stanley Cups with the Leafs in the 1960s. In 1,047 games, Shack tallied 239 goals, 465 points, and 1,431 PIMs. He went on to become a successful businessman and NHL Alumni participant following his career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shack was a character but also a very effective and tough depth player. I met him briefly as a kid in the 1970s when he was doing promotional work for The Pop Shoppe and again at an NHL alumni game in Calgary in 1995. He was funny and kind to everyone, taking time to chat and sign autographs. My condolences to his family, friends, and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2020

More on the league’s plans to possibly resume this season, plus the latest on Drew Doughty, Brandon Carlo, Dale Hawerchuk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman told CNN the league continues to explore all options to resume the 2019-20 season while awaiting word for clearance from authorities. “When we’ll have an opportunity to return depends on things that we have absolutely no control over, because it all starts with everybody’s health and well-being,” said Bettman. “And until there’s a sense that people can get together, not just to fill our arenas but even our players to get together to work out, we don’t know when we can come back.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo via NHL.com).

Bettman also said the league and the NHL Players Association discussed the length of time it would take for the players to prepare for the resumption of the season. While the players are training at home, Bettman said it would take between two-to-three weeks to get back into playing shape.

THE SCORE: cites TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reporting the NHL is willing to delay the start of 2020-21 to November to conclude this season. It would cancel the All-Star Game and the accompanying bye weeks, and extend the post-season into late June. The league also prefers playing some regular-season contests before the playoffs and would condense the postseason if necessary.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is skeptical about finishing this season. “We have no idea when this virus is going to be over,” he said. “We’re just sitting here waiting, working out, getting ready to hopefully return at any point. I would think the NHL or whoever has to make a decision will make some type of decision on that soon. It seems like it’s going to be pretty tough to return, to resume the season or the playoffs.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo is among those hopeful the league can resume in some fashion and complete this season. “It’s been great to hear that we’re going to work as hard we can to establish as many games as we can for this season and still try to make the ultimate goal of awarding a Stanley Cup happen,” said Carlo, the Bruins NHLPA player rep. “I’m trying to do everything I can to stay in shape because I am optimistic about the season returning.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like most of you, I doubt this NHL season is salvageable. Nevertheless, I don’t fault the league and the PA exploring every option to return to action. While the pandemic will likely stretch through the summer and into the fall, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared in case the coronavirus runs its course faster than projected or a vaccine is discovered and distributed quicker than anticipated. 

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Pierre McGuire predicts the salary cap could decline by 25 percent to 40 percent. A 25 percent drop would put next season’s cap at $61 million, while 40 percent would lower it to $49 million. McGuire believes the NHL and NHLPA will have to come up with some creative ideas to address this potential problem. On a positive note, he said he’s never seen better cooperation between the two sides in his 31-year hockey career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s already been reported several times by different sources that the league and PA won’t let the cap drop for next season. There’s talk of setting an artificial number at $81.5 million. It’ll be interesting to see how they address this situation.

SPORTSNET: Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk completed his final round of chemotherapy for stomach cancer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes for a full recovery.

CTV NEWS SASKATOON: A highway memorial involving hundreds of cars lined the highway to Battleford, Saskatchewan to show support for the family of the late Colby Cave, who passed away last week. Cave was originally from North Battleford.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks players and families pledged 200 meals a day for the staff at UCI Medical Center.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 22, 2019

Games recaps, three stars of the week, Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk battling cancer, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko scored a goal and set up two others as the St. Louis Blues downed the Colorado Avalanche 3-1, snapping the latter’s eight-game points streak. It was a costly defeat for the Avalanche as winger Mikko Rantanen left the game in the second period with what appeared to be a serious leg injury.  Coach Jared Bednar said Rantanen will be re-evaluated today.

St. Louis Blues’ winger Vladimir Tarasenko led his club to a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche (Photo via NHL Images).

Gustav Nyquist’s overtime goal on a penalty shot lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jackets blew a 2-0 first-period lead and forced the extra frame on Alexander Wennberg’s game-tying goal in the third period. Austin Matthews tallied a goal and an assist for the Leafs. Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson returned to the lineup after missing six games to an upper-body injury,

The Dallas Stars nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1, handing the Senators their fourth straight defeat. Earlier in the day, Stars forward Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop revealed their respective houses suffered damage as a result of a tornado that ripped through North Dallas on Sunday night. Seguin’s house is the one he has up for sale as he’s already moved into a new one.

A five-goal outburst by the Philadelphia Flyers powered them to a 6-2 drubbing of the Vegas Golden Knights. Michael Raffl led the way for the Flyers with two goals and an assist.

HEADLINES

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton are the league’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 20, 2019.

TSN: Hockey Hall of Fame Dale Hawerchuk revealed he’s receiving treatment for stomach cancer. He took a leave of absence in early-September from his job as head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Hawerchuk makes a full recovery. 

NJ.COM:  Devils center Nico Hischier (upper-body injury) and defenseman Will Butcher (upper body) could return to the lineup on Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.

CBS SPORTS:  Minnesota Wild winger Mats Zuccarello is ready to return to action after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Brian Dumoulin (lower body) on injured reserve dating back to Oct. 18.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 4, 2019

Niklas Kronwall retires, Coyotes officially introduce Phil Kessel, the latest NHL CBA speculation, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DETROIT NEWS: After 15 NHL seasons, all of them with the Red Wings, defenseman Niklas Kronwall announced his retirement yesterday. He’ll stay with the team as a special advisor to general manager Steve Yzerman, who praised Kronwall as one of the best two-way blueliners of his era.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall retired after 15 NHL seasons (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kronwall joined the Wings during their years as a league powerhouse, helping them reach two Stanley Cup Finals and winning the Cup in 2008. Known for his physical style of play, any player on the receiving end of his big hits were said to be “Kronwalled.” Yzerman already prepared for the possibility of Kronwall’s retirement, signing Patrik Nemeth this summer.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday formally introduced winger Phil Kessel to the Arizona media. Acquired earlier this summer in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kessel hopes to improve the Coyotes and grow their fan base.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell believes escrow is the key to securing an extension to the current NHL collective bargaining agreement. It could be attained if the league figures out a way to reduce escrow payments by the players by four-to-six percent.

One way would be freezing or limiting the rise of the salary cap. If revenue keeps rising (especially under a new U.S. TV deal and player tracking technology that would increase revenue from legalized gambling), that would reduce the escrow claw-backs from players’ salaries.

Campbell points out that would mean less spendable money in the system. It would affect players seeking new contracts and lead to more contract buyouts, cost-cutting trades, and demotions to the minors.

Campbell also cites a league source claiming the NHLPA’s five-percent escalator could be abolished. “And now it’s a matter of needing your revenues to grow at a greater rate than the growth in the upper limit. So you either freeze the upper limit, which would bring a more dramatic reduction in escrow, or you fix the upper limit for a number of years.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how the league and the PA address the escrow issue. The PA executive and other players will be meeting today in Chicago to review their current negotiations with the league and plan their next move. They have until Sept. 15 to exercise their early opt-out clause. However, there’s speculation that date could be extended up to Jan. 1 to allow more time to work out a three-year CBA extension to 2024-25.

YARDBARKER: The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly making progress with restricted free agent center Adrian Kempe. It’s expected he’ll sign a short-term bridge deal.

CBS SPORTS: Winger Stefan Noesen signed a professional tryout agreement with the Dallas Stars. Meanwhile, former 2013 first-round pick Kerby Rychel signed a one-year contract with KHL club Neftekhimik.

FOXSPORTS OHIO: Former Columbus Blue Jacket Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre has joined the club’s broadcast team as an in-studio analyst.

THE SCORE: Barrie Colts head coach and Hockey Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk is stepping aside for health reasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The club didn’t reveal any further details regarding Hawerchuk’s condition. Here’s hoping he gets well soon.

TSN: Rick Olcyzk joined the NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise. A former Toronto Maple Leafs scout, he also spent four seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes as an assistant general manager alongside Seattle GM Ron Francis.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 15, 2017

Game recaps, analysis of the Kings trading Cammalleri to Oilers, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each scored twice as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Vegas Golden Knights 8-2.

Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Los Angeles Kings 3-2.

Earlier in the day, the Kings traded winger Mike Cammalleri to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Jussi Jokinen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cammalleri was losing ice time with the Kings as younger forwards such as Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe took on more prominent roles on their scoring lines. The Oilers need scoring depth at right wing and that’s where he’ll likely be slotted.  Jokinen, meanwhile, struggled with the Oilers and didn’t have the confidence of head coach Todd McLellan. The Kings hope he’ll provide experienced depth to their checking lines. 

Zach Werenski’s overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Earlier in the day, sidelined Canadiens goaltender Carey Price assured the media his current lower-body injury isn’t related to the season-ending one he suffered in 2015-16, insisting it remains a minor issue. He’s been sidelined nearly two weeks. The Habs also claimed goaltender Antti Niemi off waivers from the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Niemi’s poor performance this season, this move provoked criticism by Habs followers on Twitter. However, GM Marc Bergervin justified the decision, citing Price’s injury and uncertainty over how long backup Al Montoya might be sidelined by a concussion.

Call-up Charlie Lindgren’s playing well but Bergervin wanted a little more experienced behind him. Niemi played under Habs goalie coach Stephane Waite when both were with the Chicago Blackhawks, so perhaps Waite can help Niemi overcome his current difficulties in goal. 

Connor Hellebuyck made 33 saves while Adam Lowry scored and set up another to give the Winnipeg Jets a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes, who set a league record by become the first team not to record a regulation win in its first 20 games of the season. Prior to the game, the Jets inducted former star Dale Hawerchuk into their Hall of Fame.

Earlier in the day, the Coyotes traded goaltender Louis Domingue to the Tampa Bay Lightning for goalie Michael Leighton and winger Tye McGinn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The writing was on the wall for Domingue with the Coyotes when he struggled filling in for sidelined starter Antti Raanta, forcing the Coyotes to acquire Scott Wedgewood from the New Jersey Devils. He’ll become the Lightning’s third-string goalie. 

Devan Dubnyk picked up his third straight shutout and also collected an assist as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.

Sidney Crosby snapped an 11-game goalless skid and Conor Sheary scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Buffalo Sabres 5-4. Sam Reinhart had a three-point performance for the Sabres.

Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist to give the Nashville Predators a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. T.J. Oshie potted two goals for the Capitals. The loss spoiled the return of Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, who missed 13 games with a left hand injury.  Earlier in the day, the Predators learned winger Scott Hartnell and defenseman Yannick Weber will be sidelined several weeks with lower-body injuries.

Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck’s shootout goals gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo made 40 saves and Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice for the Panthers. Jamie Benn tallied twice for the Stars.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Mirco Mueller fractured his left clavicle during Sunday’s game against Chicago and will be sidelined indefinitely.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Martin Frk could be sidelined for a week with a groin injury. 

TSN: Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion doesn’t expect winger Clarke MacArthur to play this season. MacArthur failed his team medical upon reporting to training camp in September and has since moved with his family to Florida. He’s been hampered by concussions in recent years.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs called up forward Nikita Soshnikov and demoted forward Frederik Gauthier.