NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 23, 2021

The fallout from the NHL’s withdrawal from the 2020 Winter Olympics, questions over the league’s plans to address the current COVID outbreak among its teams, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NOTE: The NHL expanded its annual holiday break to begin on Dec. 22 and ending on Dec. 26.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr believes it’s a “real shame” NHL players will miss out on another Winter Olympics. However, he acknowledged the inevitability of Wednesday’s decision to withdraw from the Games due to the COVID-19 outbreaks around the NHL and the “profound disruption” to the league’s schedule.

While the decision was out of the players’ control, Fehr said they were devastated and frustrated by the news. He declined to say whether current or former players would still attempt to participate in the Olympics. There’s also no indication whether the Bejing Games would be postponed to 2023.

NBC SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane are among the notable NHLers to lament the league’s decision to withdraw from the Games.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports the decision caused some internal strife with the NHLPA ranks. A player agent told Murphy the players he spoke to were “ticked off”. Murphy also cited Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck telling the Winnipeg media he believed the league’s COVID protocols were “a little overkill”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players who are “ticked off” are likely in a minority. This wasn’t the NHL yanking the rug from beneath their Olympic aspirations for spite or a change of heart. The recent COVID wave and its effect upon the league’s schedule is the culprit.

This decision was based on the effect this wave could have on hockey-related revenue. Two weeks ago, league commissioner Gary Bettman projected revenue for 2021-22 could reach $5 billion, an increase over the initial projection of $4.8 billion earlier in the fall.

Rising COVID numbers around the league, however, threaten those projections. With 48 postponed games to be made up (and possibly more if the outbreaks are sufficiently contained), the league also risked being unable to complete a full 82-game schedule on time. Going to the Olympics would eat up three valuable weeks in February that can be put toward staging those postponed games.

Shortening the schedule isn’t an option here, especially for the players. They still have to repay the owners for the overage of their share of the HRR they collected last season. That’s because the salary cap was set artificially high to ensure teams could maintain their rosters. However, it didn’t reflect actual revenue.

Under Bettman’s recent projection, the players would pay that share back in two years’ time. Shortening the season to accommodate Olympic participation would see those HRR projections fall short, meaning it would take another year for the players to pay that money back. That also means continued marginal increases in the salary cap until such time as that debt to the owners has been repaid.

The players may be disappointed in not getting a shot at Olympic gold in February but they care more about their paychecks.

The NHL’s withdrawal from the Olympics also meant a change of management and coaching for Canada and the United States. St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has stepped down as GM of Team Canada while Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin did the same for Team USA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong hands the reins over to Hockey Canada to find suitable staff to ice a Canadian team of amateurs and former NHL players at the Beijing Games. USA Hockey will also be finding replacements for Guerin and his staff.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL and NHLPA have discussed the potential reimplementation of the taxi squad and adoption of salary-cap exemptions for COVID-related roster issues for the remainder of this season.

Brooks believes ESPN is the reason why the 2022 All-Star Game remains a go in February. He also thinks the league and the PA will have to consider whether there will come a time to allow asymptomatic players who have tested positive to continue playing.

TSN: The NHL could consider rescheduling some of the Montreal Canadiens home games in January to later in the season if they cannot play in front of fans in their home arena.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The province of Quebec has banned fans from indoor sporting events until the end of January. The Canadiens would lose considerable revenue without fans at those games, in turn affecting the league’s hockey-related revenue for this season.

SPORTSNET: has a daily updated COVID tracker of all NHL teams. Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane were the latest notable players to enter COVID protocol.

TSN: Salim Valji wonders if there’s a glimmer of hope of keeping the Calgary Flames arena deal alive. According to Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek, the club’s ownership walked away from its partnership with the city of Calgary over a projected $9.7 million increase in the projected cost of the $600 million project. However, Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation CEO John Bean claimed there were $19 million in additional infrastructure costs that he said were introduced after their July 2021 agreement, with the city seeking an additional $10 million in funding from CSEC.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Valji indicated Mayor Gondek said the city wasn’t closing the door on the deal. “We’re simply waiting for them to come back and say they found the money,” she said. By the sound of things, CSEC isn’t going to come up with it.

Still, this could be simply public posturing by Flames ownership to put the squeeze on the city. Perhaps league commissioner Bettman will get involved to sort things out if this drags on.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

The Bruins and Avalanche take commanding series leads, the Jets take a 2-0 series lead over the Oilers, the Predators battle back against the Hurricanes, Nazem Kadri gets an 8-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins pushed the Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 of their first-round series. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 19 saves to set a franchise record for most career playoff wins with 54. Charlie McAvoy had three assists and David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist. Alex Ovechkin tallied the sole Capitals goal. The series heads back to Washington for Game 5 on Sunday with the Bruins up three games to one.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller left the game following a high hit to the head by Capitals blueliner Dmitry Orlov. Miller was sent to a local hospital for tests. Orlov received a double-minor for roughing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Orlov could face supplemental discipline for that hit. Meanwhile, his club played what I consider one of the worst postseason games of the Ovechkin era. After three closely contested contests that could’ve gone either way, the Capitals were listless in Game 4 and find themselves facing elimination on home ice on Sunday.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops as his club beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in their opening-round series. Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves celebrated his birthday with a goal and two assists. Tyler Bozak replied for the Blues. The Avalanche can close out this series on Sunday.

The Blues played without defensemen Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn. Faulk and Bortuzzo were both sidelined in Game 2 by hits to the head.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wants a serious discussion in the offseason about player safety. That could become a front-burner topic within the league this summer following several puzzling decisions handed down this season by the league’s department of player safety and the growing criticism of those rulings.

Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 38-save shutout as his Winnipeg Jets blanked the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 on an overtime goal by Paul Stastny. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the score sheet for the second straight game. With the Jets up 2-0, the series shifts to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are doing a good job neutralizing the Oilers’ dynamic duo of McDavid and Draisaitl. Hellebuyck is reminding everyone why he won the Vezina Trophy last year.

Matt Duchene scored in double-overtime as the Nashville Predators nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 for their first win in this series. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis each had a goal and an assist. Sebastian Aho collected a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who still lead the series two games to one. Game Four goes tomorrow in Nashville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game that seesawed back and forth between the two clubs. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour claimed his team was “fighting the refs”, pointing out his club had been whistled for more penalties (14) than the Predators (six) over the last two games. Meanwhile, Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson missed this matchup with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri received an eight-game suspension from the department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during Game 2 of their opening-round series. The suspension began in Game 3 last night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Kadri’s third suspension for reckless postseason play. If the Avalanche sweeps their series with the Blues, he could return for Game 7 of their next series if it goes that far.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was released from the hospital yesterday but is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. Tavares was injured during the first period of Game 1 of the Leafs’ opening-round series with the Montreal Canadiens after being accidentally struck in the head by the knee of Canadiens winger Corey Perry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Tavares makes a complete recovery and returns to action soon.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders are mulling a goaltending change after starter Semyon Varlamov’s shaky performance in Game 3 of their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rookie Ilya Sorokin was in goal for the Isles’ Game 1 victory filling in for the sidelined Varlamov, who returned for the next two games.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Chris Tanev spent the final month-and-a-half of the regular season playing with two broken ribs and a torn pectoral muscle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with access to the best medical treatment, that still had to be painful for Tanev. Unreal.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Johansson suffered a broken left arm during Game 3 of his club’s 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Zach Parise will make his debut in this series. He was a healthy scratch in the first three games.

THE PROVINCE: As expected, the Vancouver Canucks signed head coach Travis Green to a contract extension. It’s believed the new deal will keep him in Vancouver until at least 2023.

WGR 550: Former NHL coaches Bruce Boudreau and Rick Tocchet are among those the Buffalo Sabres will interview for their head coach position. Interim bench boss Don Granato is also in the mix.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action following the trade deadline, the stars of the week are revealed, the Kings re-sign Alex Iafallo, the Flyers re-up Scott Laughton, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for Colorado as they’ve won 16 of their last 19 contests. With 62 points, the Avalanche sit atop the Honda West Division and the NHL’s overall standings. The Coyotes (43 points) remain one point back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted his 300th career NHL goal as his club scored four unanswered goals to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the first-place Avs in the West Division.

A franchise-record 46-save shutout performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks over the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alexander Volkov scored two goals for the Kings. The loss leaves the Sharks (40 points) four points behind the Blues.

The Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to snap Leafs goalie Jack Campbell’s 11-game winning streak. Montreal winger Tomas Tatar scored twice while Leafs star Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 32nd of the season. The Canadiens sit in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 45 points, 14 back of the first-place Leafs.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals in a 4-2 upset of the Winnipeg Jets. Senators forward Connor Brown extended his goal-scoring streak to eight games. The Jets remain in second place in the North with 53 points.

An overtime goal by Brandon Hagel gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets, who sit eight points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Discover Central Division. The fifth-place Blackhawks, meanwhile, sit just two points back of the Predators.

The Detroit Red Wings spoiled the 1,000th career NHL game of Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal by dropping the Hurricanes 3-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves as his teammates tallied three third-period goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes tied with the Tampa Bay Lighting with 58 points but the latter holds first place in the Central Division on the basis of wins.

The NHL postponed Monday’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. The game is rescheduled for May 12.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz are the three stars for the week ending April 11, 2021.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed forward Alex Iafallo to a four-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks between the Kings and Iafallo went through most of Monday before an agreement was reached before the 3 pm ET trade deadline. Having traded long-time veteran forward Jeff Carter to Pittsburgh, the Kings cleared sufficient cap room to keep the 27-year-old Iafallo as they continue their rebuild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed forward Scott Laughton to a five-year contract extension worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Iafallo, Laughton’s contract talks carried on until close to the trade deadline. Both players were considered potential trade candidates if their respective teams failed to re-sign them before the 3 pm ET deadline. This is an affordable signing by the Flyers, retaining a versatile, energetic 26-year-old player who could help them rebound from this difficult season going forward.

WIVB.COM: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Jack Eichel will remain sidelined for a while. The Sabres captain has been out since March 7 with an upper-body injury. With 15 games remaining, this could be season-ending for Eichel.

THE ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm could miss the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist suffered on Feb. 27 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Branden Tanev could be sidelined for the rest of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators claimed defenseman Victor Mete off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.

NJ.COM: The Dallas Stars claimed blueliner Sami Vatanen off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.










NHL Betting: Andrei Vasilevskiy Sets The Bar High In Vezina Trophy Race

NHL Betting: Andrei Vasilevskiy Sets The Bar High In Vezina Trophy Race

 










Why Don’t More NHL Teams Grow Their Own Goalies?

Why Don’t More NHL Teams Grow Their Own Goalies?

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, the league introduces enhanced COVID-19 protocols, two more Flyers are added to the protocol list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Sidney Crosby’s shootout winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Penguins Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist while teammate Zach Aston-Reese scored in his first game since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.

The Florida Panthers picked up a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to snap the latter’s six-game winning streak. Alex Wennberg and Aaron Ekblad each tallied a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who were playing without winger Anthony Duclair as he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Lightning played without captain Steven Stamkos, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have 18 points (8-1-2) and sit one point behind the Lightning in the Central Division.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Jack Roslovic (NHL Images).

A four-goal third period rallied the Columbus Blue Jackets from a 4-2 deficit to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5, ending the latter’s three-game win streak. Cam Atkinson scored and collected three assists while Jack Roslovic tallied twice. Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without Andrew Shaw as he suffered another concussion during Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars. They also learned defenseman Connor Murphy will miss 10-14 days with an injured right hip.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shaw has a history of head injuries. It may be time for him to consider retirement rather than risk further serious injury by continuing his playing career. Roslovic, meanwhile, has four goals and nine points in eight games since being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets and now centers the Jackets’ top line.

The Nashville Predators ended a three-game losing skid by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Dante Fabbro netted the game-winner in the final minute of the third period. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm missed the game with an undisclosed injury and was placed on injured reserve.

Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves backstopping the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 5-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. The Senators also lost goalie Matt Murray as he left the game after two periods following a collision with teammate Nikita Zaitsev. More information about his condition could be released later today.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 38 saves for his 40th career shutout to blank the slumping Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Jujhar Khaira, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie were the goal scorers. The start time for the game was pushed back an hour after Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi was held out of the game-day skate and placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The game was allowed to proceed following rapid testing of his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have returned to earth after their red-hot start. They’ve dropped three of their last four games and managed just six goals during that period. Opponents have neutralized the Habs’ offense by clogging the neutral zone and outworking them in their own zone. In recent years the Canadiens have started strong only to suffer setbacks during the second quarter of the schedule that leaves them struggling over the remainder of the season. Time will tell if the latest slump is a minor speed bump or the harbinger of yet another collapse.

The Carolina Hurricanes dumped the Dallas Stars 5-3 to hand the latter their four straight loss. Nino Niederreiter broke a 3-3 tie with a breakaway goal early in the third period. Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera returned to the lineup after spending a week on the COVID-19 protocol list while goalie Anton Khudobin played his first game after being scratched from Sunday’s game for missing Saturday’s practice.

Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves to give the Calgary Flames a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Markstrom and teammates Chris Tanev and Josh Leivo were playing their first game in Vancouver since the former Canucks signed with the Flames last fall. Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano each collected two points for the Flames while the spiraling Canucks suffered their sixth straight defeat.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their first win in six games by thumping the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Drew Doughty collected three assists for the Kings while Tomas Hertl scored both goals for the Sharks. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced goaltender Devan Dubnyk was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks coach Bob Boughner called out goalie Martin Jones following this game, saying his performance was “not up to our standard.” Jones (5-3-0) has been erratic, playing well in his victories and getting pulled early in each of his defeats this season.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 21 saves to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0. Max Comtois tallied the lone goal as Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (27 saves) suffered his first loss of the season. The Golden Knights played without netminder Robin Lehner, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL is adding game-day rapid testing for players, team personnel and on-ice officials as part of its expanded safety protocols in hope of stemming potential COVID-19 outbreaks.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The number of Flyers on the COVID-19 protocol list rose to five as Jakub Voracek and Morgan Frost were added on Thursday. The club’s next scheduled game is Feb. 18, after which they’re slated to travel to Nevada to face the Boston Bruins in an outdoor game at Lake Tahoe.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL could be forced to find a replacement for the Flyers in that game or postpone that contest and shift it to an indoor venue at a later date.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild are cleared to resume team activities today though 12 players remain on the protocol list. They are scheduled to return to action against the Kings on Tuesday.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Steve Sullivan, adding they would not be seeking a replacement for him. Sullivan was interim GM after John Chayka left his role with the club last summer.

CBS SPORTS: A lower-body injury will sideline Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk against the New York Rangers tonight.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery today.

NHL.COM: Willie O’Ree’s number retirement ceremony has been rescheduled to Jan. 18, 2022, to allow for in-person attendance. A trailblazer for players of color, O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018. He’ll become the 12th player in Bruins history to have his number retired.