NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2023
The Blue Jackets refute a privacy violation accusation against coach Mike Babcock, Carey Price admits his playing career is likely over, the Blues’ Torey Krug will miss the start of training camp, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Columbus Blue Jackets released statements from head coach Mike Babcock and team captain Boone Jenner refuting allegations that he invaded his players’ privacy.
“Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast host Paul Bissonnette said he got a text from an unnamed player claiming Babcock called Jenner into his office asking to see his phone in order to view the photos on it to determine the type of person he was.
After looking into the allegation yesterday, the Blue Jackets released statements from Babcock and Jenner with their versions of what happened, stating Bissonnette’s depiction wasn’t delivered in the proper context.
Babcock said that he asked players and staff to share family photos off their phones as a way of getting to know them better. He called Bissonnette’s depiction of events “a gross misrepresentation of those meetings and extremely offensive.”
Jenner, meanwhile, said he was “happy to share” some of his photos of his family, pointing out Babcock had done the same with him. “I thought it was a great first meeting and a good way for us to start a relationship. To have this blown out of proportion is truly disappointing.”
Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau fully supported Babcock and Jenner. He said the coach also asked him to share some of his family photos. “It was his way of kinda getting to know me, and I got to know him,” said Gaudreau, adding he had no problem with it.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock was hired as the Blue Jackets coach earlier this summer. He is under a harsher spotlight following allegations in 2019 that he bullied players during his coaching tenures with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bissonnette is standing by his comments claiming “tons of players” have confirmed the accusation. However, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league doesn’t consider this to be an issue. He also said the NHLPA has followed up, claiming Bissonnette’s depiction of the events wasn’t consistent with what the players reported to the PA.
Babcock and Jenner also spoke to the media yesterday after their statements were released. They insisted what happened was taken out of context and blown out of proportion.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price admitted that his knee injury has likely ended his playing career. He missed all of 2022-23 and is expected to be sidelined again this season.
Price, 36, said his knee feels good on a day-to-day basis and he can do things that are strenuous for a short period of time. However, he cannot handle the brunt of a full season of goaltending as he still gets tremendous swelling in his knee as a result. Price indicated that it was swollen for two weeks following his participation in a charity softball event this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price still has three seasons remaining on his contract with an average annual value of $10.5 million. He will be placed on long-term injury reserve this season once he completes his training camp medical next week.
STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug will miss the start of training camp after injuring his right foot during off-season training. He’ll be reevaluated on Oct. 1.
Krug, 32, has been hampered by injuries in recent years. He missed 19 games last season and 18 contests in 2021-22.
NHL.COM: Seth Jones said he’d be honored if he were to be named the next captain of the Chicago Blackhawks. “I’ve always wanted to be a captain,” said Jones, adding he’d learned from some great leaders such as Shea Weber, Nick Foligno and Jonathan Toews over this career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have yet to name a replacement for Toews, who captained the club from 2008 to April of last season. Jones could be the front-runner for the role.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets named center Adam Lowry as their new team captain. Lowry, 30, takes over from Blake Wheeler, who was bought out of the remaining year of his contract in June.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets head coach Rick Bowness cited Lowry’s work ethic, competitiveness and ability to communicate with his teammates as reason why he was tapped as the new captain. The Athletic’s Murat Ates cited Lowry as “a level-headed, inclusive, passionate, honest and consistently hard-working player.”
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed free-agent winger Tomas Tatar to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rumors linked Tatar to the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. Instead, he lands with one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
The 32-year-old winger has a reputation as a solid regular-season performer who struggles in the postseason. Perhaps he’ll have better luck in the playoffs with the Avalanche.
CALGARY SUN: Mikael Backlund hasn’t closed the door on signing a contract extension with the Flames. The 34-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Backlund is taking a wait-and-see approach to this season to determine if the Flames are ready to become a Stanley Cup contender.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backlund could be shopped by the March 8 trade deadline if the Flames are out of playoff contention by then.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights signed winger Maxime Comtois to a professional tryout offer (PTO).
TSN: Speaking of the Golden Knights, Nick Holden is joining their front office after announcing his retirement yesterday. The 36-year-old defenseman played 654 career regular-season games over 12 seasons (2010-11 to 2022-23) with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, the Golden Knights and Ottawa Senators, finishing with 178 career points.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Adam Erne to a PTO contract.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken prospect Shane Wright will be granted an exemption from the OHL allowing him to play for the club’s AHL affiliate if he fails to make the Kraken roster this season. In other words, he won’t have to return to his junior club because he missed the age eligibility cutoff by just five days.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins announced their “Historic 100” list of the 100 most legendary players in franchise history ahead of its “All-Centennial” all-star roster reveal on Oct. 12. Among the notables are Bobby Orr, Raymond Bourque, Phil Esposito, Eddie Shore, Brad Park, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Gerry Cheevers, Tim Thomas, Brad Marchand, Jean Ratelle, Rick Middleton and Joe Thornton.
ESPN.COM: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly believes a third attempt at operating an NHL franchise in Atlanta could be more successful than the previous two attempts. He indicated the market demographics have significantly improved in that area but noted that the rink location would be important.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicated that league commissioner Gary Bettman has said that expansion isn’t a priority for the NHL right now.
Nevertheless, there’s been speculation among some pundits that another franchise in Atlanta could become a possibility down the road. In addition to the construction of an arena in a suitable location, it will also require a deep-pocketed ownership group willing to pay over $1 billion in expansion fees.
TSN: The NHL and NHLPA are planning on staging a scaled-down version of the World Cup of Hockey in February 2025 given the timeframe and uncertainty over the participation of Russian players. It will not be a “typical tournament” of eight national teams playing over 16 days.