NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2021

The Lightning thump the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, expansion and NHL draft TV info announced, information on special events for 2021-22 revealed, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The Bolts broke the game open in the third period as Nikita Kucherov scored twice and set up Steven Stamkos for the fifth goal. Brayden Point had three assists on the night.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

It was a rough game for Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher. He skated away with a bloodied head after tangling with Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.

Canadiens winger Joel Armia took a private jet from Montreal to Tampa Bay to rejoin his teammates after emerging from COVID protocol on Monday. He had been held out of the lineup after entering the protocol on Sunday. His spot in the lineup for Game 1 was taken by Jake Evans, playing his first game since being sidelined by a concussion in Game 1 of the Habs second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominating performance by Tampa Bay from start to finish. Despite the score being 2-1 after two periods, there was a sense that it was a matter of time before they blew the game open.

The Canadiens seemed tentative through much of this contest as they struggled to adjust to the Lightning’s game plan. This series will be over quickly if the Habs fail to find a solution.

Poor puck management proved costly for the Canadiens. The Lightning’s first three goals came from offensive-zone turnovers. Lightning coach Jon Cooper also used his home-ice advantage of having the last line change to good effect in keeping the Point line away from the Canadiens shutdown line.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended the performance of the league’s officiating during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. “It seems every season, it’s a playoff ritual for me to address some aspect of the officiating,” said Bettman. “Let’s be clear. Our officials are not only the best hockey officials in the world, they’re the best officials in any sport.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an annual playoff ritual because there’s an obvious difference over how games are called during the regular season and how they’re called in the playoffs. The commissioner, however, seems unconcerned that this is a growing issue for fans and pundits.

ESPN2, NHL Network and Sportsnet will broadcast the NHL expansion draft on Wednesday, July 21 at 8 pm ET. The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will be televised on ESPN 2, Sportsnet and SN NOW on Friday, July 23 at 8 pm ET.

The Vegas Golden Knights will host the 2022 NHL All-Star Game with the date to be determined. The 2022 NHL Winter Classic will be held on Jan. 1, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The 2022 Stadium Series game will be held Feb. 26 , 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville between the Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning. The league also plans to stage a Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic game in March 2022.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens will host the 2022 NHL Draft.

THE SCORE: The NHL’s participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing remains “a work in progress,” according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly. He suggested the continued uncertainty over COVID-19 and the games being held halfway around the world doesn’t make it necessarily an ideal Games to elect to go to. NHL participation remains contingent on negotiations with the International Olympic Committee as per the CBA extension agreement with the NHLPA.

YARDBARKER: The NHL confirmed the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division as part of its realignment with the addition of the Seattle Kraken. The decision to move the Coyotes was made by the league board of governors in December 2018.

CBS BOSTON: Bruins star David Pastrnak and his family are mourning the heartbreaking death of their infant son on June 23. He was five days old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Pastrnak and his family on their loss. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to lead an “independent review” of sexual assault allegations against former video coach Bradley Aldrich and the Blackhawks’ internal handling of those allegations.

SPORTSNET: Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league only recently learned of the allegations, adding it will await the results of the independent investigation before deciding how to proceed.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara was honored at a ceremony celebrating his home country of Slovakia’s 28th anniversary “for extraordinary merits in the field of sports and for extraordinary dissemination of the good name of the Slovak Republic abroad.”

NEW YORK POST: ESPN has hired Chris Chelios to join fellow Hockey Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier as part of the network’s top hockey studio team.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken announced the Charlotte Checkers will be their AHL affiliate starting in 2021-22.

TSN: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is moving forward with its induction ceremony for 2020-2021 on Nov. 15.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

More on the league’s potential plans for 2020-21, no Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2021, plus the latest on Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, Vince Dunn, Alexander Steen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league intends to take its time exploring its options for 2020-21 despite a tentative start date of Jan. 1. He also indicated it appears last season’s seven non-playoff clubs will get additional training camp time, though it hasn’t yet been finalized with the NHL Players Association.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

Daly also dismissed the idea that the NHL must crown a Stanley Cup champion before the Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 22, 2021. He said there’s a lot to be played out on the Olympic front, adding the league has models that extend beyond the Olympic period.

Border restrictions between Canada and the United States will also factor in what the 2020-21 schedule looks like. If travel for NHL teams remains difficult between the two countries, it could result in what Daly called a possibility to “create competition within the league among the Canadian clubs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting to note that Daly isn’t rejecting the notion of the NHL schedule coinciding with the Summer Olympics. However, I don’t think that’s going to benefit the league if the playoffs are going on during the two weeks when their main US broadcaster is putting its focus on the Tokyo Games. If the Olympics are canceled or the dates changed, however, it wouldn’t affect the league’s US TV coverage.

For now, of course, this is all speculation. We don’t know yet how long the NHL season will be, let alone when the puck drops for certain.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Bruins defenseman and NHLPA representative Brandon Carlo said the PA and its members remain committed to staging a full 82-games schedule for 2020-21.

Murphy believes one reason behind the 82-game push is to avoid the possibility of the league looking to amend the new collective bargaining agreement to prorate player salaries if the season is shortened by COVID-19.

Carlo also suggested there would be some hesitancy among the players to play under quarantine bubbles again, though they are open to ideas. However, they would be reluctant to be separated from their families as they were during the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One possibility recently raised is starting next season in several hub cities where the teams play for two weeks, followed by a week back in their home cities to practice and reunite with their families. That scenario could be acceptable to the PA membership.

SPORTSNET: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is postponing the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 to next year and will not name a new class for 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The induction weekend is a significant event that involves a Hall of Fame game in Toronto on the Saturday prior to the actual induction ceremony gala, which takes place in the Hall with family, friends and former teammates of the inductees, as well as NHL executives and established Hall of Famers in attendance. The pandemic makes it impossible to safely stage those events.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin is expected to undergo hip surgery next week. His recovery period could take four months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin labored through that injury (and a lingering knee injury) during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, during which he got some flak from fans and pundits for what they considered a sub-par performance on his part, with calls that he should “step up his play”. Once again, it’s worth remembering that an NHL player performing below expectations in the postseason could be nursing an injury that adversely affects their game.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said he hopes to have a new deal for Roope Hintz within the next week or two. The 23-year-old forward is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. Nill said he’s had great discussions with Hintz’s agent. The Stars have about $4 million in cap space. Hintz’s new contract could carry an annual cap hit of between $2.5 million and $3 million.

The Stars also signed Julius Honka to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. The 24-year-old defenseman spent last season playing in Finland and had asked for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Honka is well down the Stars’ blueline depth chart and faces a daunting challenge cracking the lineup. He must also clear waivers to be demoted to their AHL affiliate.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t concerned over Vince Dunn remaining unsigned, indicating the 24-year-old defenseman is still part of their plans for next season. He pointed out it’s not unusual for restricted free agents to wait until training camp to sign contracts.

The Blues are about $1.1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap. However, Armstrong pointed out they’ll have “an abundance of cap space” given the Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen “situations”. Tarasenko will miss the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Armstrong’s comments are a strong indicator Steen could miss the start of the season with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Tarasenko and Steen on injured reserve. Their combined salaries ($13.25 million) provides the Blues with ample room to re-sign Dunn. It could also provide sufficient room to make a short-term addition to their roster if necessary.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to a three-year contract (two-way in the first two seasons) worth an annual average value of $750K. They also signed unrestricted free agent goalie Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract worth $750K annually.

SPORTSNET: The Ontario government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact will not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) indicates it will follow scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie raises some important questions about the Ontario government’s plan:

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2020

The Rangers win the 2020 draft lottery, the Panthers formally part company with Dale Tallon, the opening round of the 2020 playoffs begin today and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

  NHL.COM: The New York Rangers won Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday, giving them the first-overall pick and the opportunity to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere of the QMJHL’s Rimouski Oceanic.

2020 NHL DRAFT ORDER

1. New York Rangers

2. Los Angeles Kings

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)

4. Detroit Red Wings

5. Ottawa Senators

6. Anaheim Ducks

7. New Jersey Devils

8. Buffalo Sabres

9. Minnesota Wild

10. Winnipeg Jets

11. Nashville Predators

12. Florida Panthers

13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)

14. Edmonton Oilers

15. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Hurricanes received the Leafs pick as part of the return in last June’s Patrick Marleau trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was 24 hours of suck for the Maple Leafs. They would’ve kept that pick had they won the lottery.

As a result of the Penguins acquiring Jason Zucker in February from the Wild, Pens general manager Jim Rutherford has seven days to decide if he’ll send this year’s first-rounder to the Wild or defer the pick to 2021.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with general manager Dale Tallon. He’d been with the club for 10 years, most of that period as GM. The club issued a statement indicating the decision was mutual. It’s believed they’ll look outside the organization for a replacement. Assistant GM Eric Joyce takes over on an interim basis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers made little progress toward their goal of becoming a Stanley Cup contender during Tallon’s tenure. His replacement must build around the club’s core talent (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad), addressing their weaknesses (such as their poor defensive play), and change the culture of losing that’s dogged this franchise for over two decades. 

NHL.COM: The opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs begins today with four games. The Columbus Blue Jackets face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning (3 pm ET), the Calgary Flames meet the Dallas Stars (5:30 pm ET), the Carolina Hurricanes square off against the Boston Bruins (8 pm ET), and the Chicago Blackhawks go up against the Vegas Golden Knights (10:30 pm ET).

SPORTSNET: Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins is sidelined indefinitely. As per league protocols, no information was revealed regarding his condition.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek (undisclosed) will be a game-day decision when his club faces off with the Canadiens in Game 1 of their opening-round series on Wednesday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Sammy Blais could miss the start of his club’s opening-round series against the Vancouver Canucks. He suffered an apparent leg injury during Sunday’s round-robin loss to the Dallas Stars.

TSN: The NHL reported no positive COVID-19 tests in its first two weeks in their secure zones in Edmonton and Toronto.

NHL.COM: The Hockey Hall of Fame has postponed its Induction Weekend ceremonies (Nov. 13-16) because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rescheduling plans will be made during the board of directors meeting on Oct. 29.

TSN: Long-time NHL insider Bob McKenzie is scaling back his schedule in what he deemed a “soft retirement”. He’ll still appear in special events like the World Juniors and the NHL Trade Deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McKenzie is the best-connected man in hockey and the most trusted insider. Best wishes in his future endeavors.










Notable Former NHL Stars Still Awaiting Induction Into Hockey Hall of Fame

Notable Former NHL Stars Still Awaiting Induction Into Hockey Hall of Fame

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 13, 2020

A Bruins player tests positive for COVID-19, Las Vegas will reportedly be confirmed as a hub city for the playoff tournament, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: In a statement yesterday, the Boston Bruins announced one of their players had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to using the club’s practice facilities as part of Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. The player subsequently underwent two more tests, which came back negative. The player remains asymptomatic and all other Bruins players have returned negative tests.

T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty points out this serves as a reminder of the challenges facing the league in its quest to complete this season. The Bruins also indicated they’ll continue adhering to CDC guidelines and the league’s Phase 2 protocols. I suspect the player will be under self-quarantine for the next two weeks. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Las Vegas is expected to be among the two hub cities to host the 24-team playoff tournament when the NHL announces its selections on June 22. MGM Resorts International is reportedly keeping its Las Vegas hotels available for the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston expects that announcement could come before June 22. While some fans will wonder why the NHL favors a Sun Belt location like Vegas, that city has a suitable arena, training facilities, accommodation, and transportation within a closely-contained area that meets the league’s requirements for a host city. 

Johnston also reports the league prefers placing the other hub city in Canada, with Toronto considered the front-runner. That will depend, however, on whether the Canadian government relaxes its strict border protocols to allow NHL clubs to travel to that hub city.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Tampa Bay received some buzz as a potential destination when there was talk of four NHL host cities. Once the league opted for two, however, Tampa slid down the list. The city and Amalie Arena lack the space the league needs to bring 12 teams together.

CALGARY SUN: Mark Giordano, Michael Stone, Dillon Dube, Matthew Phillips, and Mark Jankowski were the first Flames to hit the ice in Calgary for small-group training.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Former Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic is reportedly working on a two-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. The Capitals terminated the remainder of Leipsic’s one-year contract last month after his offensive remarks on social media about several current and former teammates were made public.

TSN: The Ottawa Sun recently issued a correction and an apology for errors in two recent columns regarding the Ottawa Senators Foundation’s decision to cut ties with the club’s ownership.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2020

Teams prepare for Phase 2 of Return-To-Play Plan, Patrick Kane donates to Chicago organizations to combat racism, Kyle Okposo undergoes surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TEAMS PREPARING FOR PHASE 2 OF NHL’S RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN

SPORTSNET: Maple Leafs players already in Toronto underwent COVID-19 testing yesterday in preparation for the second phase of the NHL’s Return-To-Play Plan on Monday. Teams will be allowed to reopen their training facilities (based on local and state/provincial medical protocols) to allow voluntary small-group training of up to six players per group. Those in the Toronto area include Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman, Jake Muzzin, and Kyle Clifford.

NHL training facilities can reopen on Monday.

The Vancouver Canucks will be keeping Rogers Arena closed until there is a demand from the players for ice and training space. Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Troy Stecher are the only Canucks to spend the coronavirus shutdown in Vancouver, while Josh Leivo stayed for medical treatment.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens players will have to wait until Thursday to begin skating at their practice facility as no ice has been laid there. The club claims it’s due to maintenance work at the facility, but a source said the ice crew had been laid off because of the pandemic. Another source indicated the ice would be ready for the players on Thursday. Paul Byron and Jonathan Drouin are the only Canadiens currently in Montreal.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Nearly every member of the Jets are currently at their homes in Canada, the United States, and Europe. There isn’t expected to be much activity at the Jets training facility in the near future owing to travel restrictions and the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine upon returning to Winnipeg.

STLTODAY.COM: After consultation with his players, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said his club won’t be opening their facilities until they request it. Approximately 10 of the Blues’ players remained in the St. Louis area since the NHL began its self-quarantine period on March 12.

TRIBLIVE.COM: All Penguins players and staff will be tested for COVID-19 before using the club’s training facilities. Medical evaluations for those who test negative will begin on Monday.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders will be ready to open their facilities on Monday, while the Rangers will require an extra day before opening theirs. Chris Kreider, Marc Staal, Brendan Smith, Adam Fox, and Brendan Lemieux are the only Rangers currently in the local area.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun (subscription required) has a full listing of each team’s status and how many of their players could use those facilities when they open next week.

Most players have resided at their off-season residences since the league paused operations in mid-March. Because participation in Phase 2 is voluntary and given travel restrictions and local health protocols, most will likely remain where they are during this period. Those who reside in NHL cities other than their respective teams’ have permission to train at those facilities if they wish.

OTHER NOTABLE HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane is donating to local Chicago charities combating racial injustice.

“Racism and injustice in our country must end,” Kane said. “As a white male in this society, I will never truly understand. But I want to help in this fight for change – and I know I cannot do that in silence.”

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports Kim Davis, the NHL’s executive VP for social impact, growth initiatives, and legislative affairs, announced the league is forming four committees to examine and address the diversity issues facing the league and the sport. The committees are the continuation of the work announced at last December’s board of governors meeting after several players reported racist language and physical abuse from coaches during their playing careers.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo underwent successful surgery on his right knee this week. He’s expected to make a full recovery in six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Okposo could be ready to participate in training camp, tentatively slated to open sometime in July.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Eric Duhatschek reports the Hockey Hall of Fame’s annual selection committee will be held as planned on June 23 and 24. This year’s prominent first-year eligible players are Jarome Iginla and Marian Hossa.

OTTAWA SUN: A debate over distribution of funds was among the main issues that led the Ottawa Senators Foundation to announce it was cutting ties with the club on July 3. The foundation’s focus is on supporting youth programs. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who underwent a successful liver transplant in 2015, wanted a portion of the proceeds to go toward organ donation awareness.

SPORTSNET: announced award-winning sports broadcaster Chris Cuthbert will be joining the network as an NHL play-by-play announcer.

KUKLA’S KORNER: The Athletic yesterday announced it was cutting eight percent of its staff. Among those laid off were hockey writers Ken Wiebe, George Richards, Scott Gordon, Tom Reed, Joe Yerdon, John Glennon, Craig Morgan, and Marc Dumont.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They are among some of hockey’s best pundits. Here’s hoping for better days ahead for all of them.