NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 16, 2022

Remembering the late Mike Bossy, Carey Price returns to action with the Canadiens, an independent report clears NHLPA of wrongdoing in Kyle Beach investigation, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL COMMUNITY HONORS MIKE BOSSY

NHL.com: Hall-of-Fame scorer Mike Bossy passed away yesterday at age 65 of lung cancer. He spent his entire 10-season NHL career with the New York Islanders, helping them win four straight Stanley Cups from 1980 to 1983. Bossy also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1982 and was a three-time winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

New York Islanders hall-of-famer Mike Bossy (NHL.com).

Retiring in 1987, Bossy scored 573 goals and 553 assists for 1,126 points in 752 games, along with 85 goals and 160 points in 129 playoff games. He became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in the first 50 games of a season. Bossy is tied with Wayne Gretzky as the only players to score 50 goals nine times but is the only one to do it in nine consecutive seasons.

Gretzky, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (who has eight 50-goal seasons) and former teammates Denis Potvin, Glenn “Chico” Resch and Bryan Trottier were among those in the NHL community paying tribute to Bossy as a player and a person.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bossy was the purest goal scorer I ever saw. Others may have tallied more career goals but only because a back injury cut short his career. His streak of nine consecutive 50-goal seasons are testament to his greatness.

Along with Potvin, Trottier, Billy Smith, Butch Goring and the late Clark Gillies, Bossy was instrumental in turning the Islanders into the last true Stanley Cup dynasty. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, former teammates, the Islanders organization and his broadcasting colleagues at TVA Sports.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Carey Price returned to action for the first time since the 2021 Stanley Cup Final but he couldn’t prevent his Montreal Canadiens from being blanked 3-0 by the New York Islanders. Price stopped 17 of 19 shots but Isles goaltender Ilya Sorokin stole the show with a 44-save performance. Zach Parise and Noah Dobson beat Price with Brock Nelson getting an empty-net goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens honored Mike Bossy with a video tribute and a moment of silence.

Price didn’t look too bad considering he’d been sidelined for nearly the entire season. He couldn’t be faulted for Parise’s 3-on-0 goal or Dobson’s screened wrister that beat him on the stick side. His teammates dominated much of the play through the first two periods. However, Sorokin was on top of his game in this contest, picking up his seventh shutout to tie a franchise single-season record.

The Florida Panthers picked up their ninth straight win by thumping the Winnipeg Jets 6-1. Jonathan Huberdeau extended his points streak to 13 games with two goals and an assist. Claude Giroux collected three assists and Gustav Forsling scored twice as the Panthers (112 points) moved within two points of the first-overall Colorado Avalanche. Jets captain Blake Wheeler returned to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau now has 108 points and sits two behind the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid in this season’s scoring race.

This loss could be the dagger in the heart of the Jets’ playoff hopes. They have 81 points with seven games remaining in their schedule, sitting eight points behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with the Stars holding a game in hand.

HEADLINES

TSN: An independent report into the NHLPA’s handling of the Kyle Beach investigation did not find any “individual wrongdoing or institutional failures of policy or procedure”. The Toronto law firm Cozen O’Connor was hired to investigate PA executive director Donald Fehr’s response to concerns raised by two player agents about former Chicago Blackhawks winger Kyle Beach’s allegations he was sexually assaulted by the club’s former video coach Brad Aldrich.

Fehr denied any recollection he’s received a call from one of those agents. However, he didn’t deny the call may have happened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was critical of the report’s findings. He pointed out Dr. Brian Shaw, a program administrator for the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, found Beach’s account to be a credible report of sexual assault. “After reading this passage, I don’t understand how anyone can claim there wasn’t any ‘systemic failure’ here,” writes Friedman.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche can clinch first place in the Western Conference with a win tonight over the Carolina Hurricanes.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames get another chance to secure a playoff berth when they face the Arizona Coyotes. They sit atop the Pacific Division with 99 points.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat has been sidelined for the remainder of the regular season after taking a shot off his left leg on Thursday against the Coyotes. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks when the schedule has ended.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting five points out of a wild-card berth, the Canucks already face an uphill climb to reach the playoffs. Losing Horvat makes that pursuit more difficult.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (upper-body injury) will be sidelined for today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brandon Carlo could be in the lineup after the defenseman returned to practice on Friday after missing Thursday’s game.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: Penguins starting goaltender Tristan Jarry is being evaluated for a lower-body injury and didn’t travel with his teammates to Boston.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin will miss this weekend’s games against the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders due to an undisclosed injury.

CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks center Kirby Dach suffered a sprained right shoulder on Thursday. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed goaltender Brian Elliott to a one-year contract extension worth $900K.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2022

The Penguins and Lightning clinch postseason berths, Auston Matthews hits the 100-point plateau, NHLPA votes to release findings of Kyle Beach investigation, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel scored twice and set up two others and Sidney Crosby had a three-point game as they led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders. With the win, the Penguins sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 97 points, securing a playoff spot for the 16th consecutive season. Zdeno Chara scored his first goal of the season for the Islanders while teammate Brock Nelson collected two assists.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched a postseason berth by nipping the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime after Nikita Kucherov tied the game for Tampa Bay in the final seconds of regulation. Cirelli, Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn finished the night with two points for the Lightning as they sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 98 points. Adam Henrique scored twice for the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was pulled in the second period after giving up three goals on 13 shots, marking the first time he’s gotten the hook since March 2018. He’s 0-3-1 in his last five starts.

John Tavares collected three assists while William Nylander, Michael Bunting and Ilya Mikheyev each scored two goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Washington Capitals 7-3. Auston Matthews picked up two assists to reach 101 points, becoming the third player in Leafs history to reach the 100-point plateau. The Leafs sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 102 points. John Carlson had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 92 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews sits fourth among this season’s points leaders and remains in first place in the goal-scoring race with 58. He joins Darryl Sittler and Doug Gilmour as the only Leafs with 100-point seasons.

St. Louis Blues forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas each collected five points in a 6-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Tarasenko tallied a hat trick and two assists while Thomas had five helpers. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and two assists while Jordan Binnington got the win with a 35-save effort. With seven straight wins, the Blues sit in third place in the Central Division with 98 points.

Leon Draisaitl scored a hat trick and Mike Smith kicked out 30 shots as the Edmonton Oilers shut out the Nashville Predators 4-0. Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had two assists for the Oilers as they sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 92 points. The Predators, meanwhile, cling to the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 89 points.

An overtime goal by Frederick Gaudreau lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Kevin Fiala scored twice for the Wild while Jason Robertson netted both goals for the Stars. The Wild are tied with the Blues with 98 points but hold second place in the Central Division with a game in hand. The Stars, meanwhile, are tied with Nashville but hold the final Western wild-card spot because the Predators have more regulation wins.

The Vegas Golden Knights remain two points back of the Stars after snuffing out the Calgary Flames 6-1. Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson each had a goal and two assists while Logan Thompson made 35 saves for the win. The loss prevented the Flames from clinching a playoff spot. They remain in first place in the Pacific with 99 points, sitting seven up on the second-place Oilers.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller picked up five assists in a 7-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes. Quinn Hughes picked up three assists while Vasily Podkolzin and Alex Chiasson each tallied two goals. The Canucks remain in the Western playoff chase with 84 points, five behind the Predators and Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canucks captain Bo Horvat left the game in the second period after taking an Anton Stralman slapshot off his right ankle. He was seen following the game wearing a walking boot. No word yet on his status but his potential absence from the Canucks’ remaining games could be a big blow for their postseason hopes. Head coach Bruce Boudreau remains optimistic over his captain’s condition.

The Ottawa Senators netted three unanswered second-period goals to defeat the Boston Bruins 3-2. Tim Stutzle led the way for the Senators with a goal and two assists while Anton Forsberg made 40 saves. Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark left the game with an injury following the first period after taking a shot to the mask. No further word on his condition following the game. With 95 points, the Bruins remain three points ahead of the Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic turned in a 46-save shutout to upset the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0. Moritz Seider, Adam Erne and Filip Zadina were the goal scorers. The loss leaves the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes just two points up on the second-place New York Rangers with 104 points.

The league-leading Colorado Avalanche picked up their eighth straight win by beating the New Jersey Devils 3-1. Pavel Francouz made 26 saves and Artturi Lehkonen had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, who hold a four-point lead over the Florida Panthers in the overall standings with 114 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche need just two more wins to tie their single-season franchise record of 118 points.

Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists and Alex DeBrincat collected three helpers as the Chicago Blackhawks snapped an eight-game losing skid with a 5-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks to officially eliminate the latter from playoff contention. DeBrincat tallied the winning goal in the shootout as the Blackhawks handed the Sharks their eighth straight loss.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL Players’ Association executive board voted yesterday to release the findings of an independent investigation into the association’s handling of former Chicago Blackhawks winger Kyle Beach’s sexual assault allegations against the club’s video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010. PA executive director Donald Fehr was contacted twice about Beach’s allegations against Aldrich. Fehr said he couldn’t recall the conversations but didn’t deny that they had taken place.

THE ATHLETIC: Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek defended Ducks center Trevor Zegras’ lacrosse-style goals he’s scored this season, which drew criticism from some circles amid the widespread attention and praise those goals have garnered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some “old school” critics can’t handle the fact that the game, like everything in life, is evolving and changing. Zegras’ goals aren’t against the rules and require a certain amount of skill to pull off. His critics accuse him of disrespecting the game or “hotdogging” but what he’s really doing is using creativity to score goals, which is what the game is about. Those supposed gatekeepers of hockey should be appreciative of Zegras’ skill and the positive attention it’s bringing to the NHL in its efforts to grow the game while entertaining the current fans.

ESPN.COM: Minnesota Wild center Ryan Hartman is flattered by the outpouring of donations to help him pay his $4,500.00 fine for recently flipping off Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane in a recent game. He indicated he can afford to pay off the fine and will donate the money sent by the fans to a pediatric hospital located two blocks from the Wild’s home arena.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Former Minnesota North Stars forward Tom McCarthy passed away yesterday at age 61. McCarthy spent nine seasons in the NHL from 1979-80 to 1987-88, spending seven seasons with the North Stars and two with the Boston Bruins. He tallied 179 goals and 399 points in 460 games before injuries cut short his career, including a career-best 39 goals and 70 points in 66 games in 1983-84.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to McCarthy’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2022

How much could it cost for the Canucks to re-sign J.T. Miller? How will Alex Goligoski’s new contract affect the Wild’s salary-cap payroll for 2022-23? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma suggested it could cost the Vancouver Canucks an annual average value of $8 million over five or six years to sign J.T. Miller to a contract extension. He considers that to be the going rate and term against comparable players such as the New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks Tomas Hertl.

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Miller, 29, has one year remaining on his current contract with a $5.25 million cap hit. Kuzma believes the Canucks cannot allow their catalyst on and off the ice to test the 2023 free-agent market.

Doing so, however, will require some creativity by Canucks management to free up sufficient cap space for 2023. Winger Brock Boeser is a restricted free agent this summer who is due a $7.5 million qualifying offer while captain Bo Horvat is also slated to become a UFA in 2023.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That creativity could involve shopping Boeser this summer if they cannot reach an agreement on a new contract. It could also involve trading players signed beyond 2023-24 such as Conor Garland ($4.95 million AAV) or Tanner Pearson (3.25 million).

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien pointed out the Minnesota Wild’s signing defenseman Alex Goligoski to a two-year contract extension worth $2 million per season leaves the club with less salary-cap wiggle room for next season.

The Wild’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last year will eat up a big chunk of their cap space for 2022-23. They now have six defensemen under contract for next season with promising Calen Addison waiting in the wings.

Goligoski’s signing prompted O’Brien to wonder if blueliner Matt Dumba’s days with the Wild could be numbered. He also speculated they could be forced to trade the rights of winger Kevin Fiala, who is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer. In addition, O’Brien pondered whether recent additions Marc-Andre Fleury and Jacob Middleton will be playoff rentals or if the Wild will try to bring them back this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild will be a team to monitor during this summer. The additions of Fleury and Middleton could be general manager Bill Guerin going for it this season because he knows cap constraints could hamper the Wild’s progress in 2022-23. That could also involve moving parting ways with Fiala and with Dumba, who is slated to become a UFA following next season.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 14, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – March 14, 2022

Will the Avalanche use LTIR to help them land a player or two before the trade deadline? Should the Rangers wait until the offseason to make a big move? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WILL THE AVS USE LTIR TO BOLSTER THEIR ROSTER?

THE ATHLETIC: Peter Baugh wonders if the Colorado Avalanche will use long-term injury reserve to their advantage at the upcoming NHL trade deadline. Captain Gabriel Landeskog will undergo knee surgery today while defenseman Samuel Girard is sidelined for four weeks with a lower-body injury. Landeskog carries a $7 million salary-cap hit while Girard’s is $5 million.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

The Avs could simply try to accrue cap space before the March 21 trade deadline but that could be affected if they call up players from their AHL affiliate to replace Landeskog and Girard. They could put those two on LTIR and use the combined $12 million to go shopping at the trade deadline but would have to become cap compliant if one or both return before the end of the regular season.

A third option could involve placing Landeskog on LTIR. There’s no timetable yet for his recovery from surgery. If he’s not expected back until early May they could use his $7 million to exceed the cap ceiling and pursue a player such as the Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux (if the Flyers agree to retain some of his salary) or the Winnipeg Jets’ Andrew Copp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what Avalanche GM Joe Sakic does here. I expect he’ll wait and see what the timeline is for Landeskog’s return and perhaps put him on LTIR if he’s out for the remainder of the regular season.

SHOULD THE RANGERS MAKE A BIG MOVE NOW OR IN THE OFFSEASON?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests Rangers general manager Chris Drury should hang onto his trade chips until the offseason if pending free-agent center Ryan Strome isn’t signed to a contract extension by the March 21 trade deadline. He feels Drury will need them to replace Strome this summer as their second-line center, with the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele and Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat as primary trade targets and the Chicago Blackhawks’ Kirby Dach as a secondary target.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting suggestion by Brooks, who acknowledged the Rangers’ ongoing need for a scoring right winger and how their third line will need to be rebuilt from scratch this summer. Horvat is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2022-23 while Scheifele is signed through 2023-24 and carries a 10-team no-trade list. Dach is completing his entry-level contract.

Horvat could be the easiest of that trio to acquire as he lacks no-trade protection and could prove too expensive for the Canucks to re-sign. The Jets aren’t in any hurry to trade Scheifele given his contract status but perhaps a core shakeup could be coming if they miss the playoffs this season. I don’t see the Blackhawks trading Dach as they’ll want to rebuild with young players like him.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 14, 2021

Are trades coming for the Canucks while they search for a new general manager? What’s the latest on the Canadiens hunt for a new GM? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: Kevin Woodley reported Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford received calls from other clubs interested in making trades even before he arrived in Vancouver. The former general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, he was hired for the job last week and met with the Vancouver media for the first time yesterday.

Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford (NHL.com).

Rutherford acknowledged there are holes in the Canucks roster that must be addressed but he’s not going to rush into making any deals nor will he make a lot of calls. His primary focus is on improving the hockey department.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports Rutherford is busy compiling a list of potential candidates to replace Jim Benning as the Vancouver Canucks’ general manager. He hopes to hire someone in the near future and also indicated he’d like to hire a new assistant general manager later this week.

Rutherford said he’s not there to be the general manager but he’s capable of doing the job. He indicated he’d like to take some time to evaluate his roster. He also stated he doesn’t want to move draft picks unless they’re in the later rounds because it’s not the cycle the club is in.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a well-earned reputation as a wheeler-dealer but he also understands the reality of the club he’s taking over in Vancouver. Kuzma points out they’re already capped out and their young core must be supported by players in the same age group.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Canucks like J.T. Miller, Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson were being floated as trade candidates. I daresay they’re off the market for now and perhaps for the remainder of the season.

Any significant moves by Rutherford and his new general manager will likely take place during the offseason. Much will depend on who becomes the next Canucks GM and the club’s performance over the rest of this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin report there are at least three women on the Montreal Canadiens long list of potential general manager candidates. Even if a woman isn’t hired for the position, there’s a good chance they could be eligible for other roles in the organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A woman has never held a general manager role in the NHL. She would have to be bilingual to become the Canadiens GM.

The Canadiens recently hired former New York Ranger GM Jeff Gorton as their executive vice president of hockey operations. He would work in tandem with whoever becomes their next GM. If they’re lacking NHL experience, he will mentor them until they’ve become accustomed to the role.

The leading candidates are believed to be Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere. Darche is the director of hockey operations for the Tampa Bay Lightning while Briere manages the day-to-day operations of the ECHL’s Maine Mariners.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 29, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – November 29, 2021

Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat surfaced in recent Canucks trade speculation PLUS some musing over whether the Avalanche should acquire Evander Kane in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOESER, HORVAT POP UP IN CANUCKS RUMORS

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser topped Jimmy Murphy’s recent list of popular names floating in the NHL rumor mill. He said Boeser was rumored to be available around the time of this summer’s draft and free-agent period.

Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

Other forwards believed available are the New York Rangers’ Ryan Strome and the Arizona Coyotes’ Phil Kessel. Defensemen include the Buffalo Sabres’ Will Butcher, the Los Angeles Kings’ Olli Maatta and the Vegas Golden Knights’ Brayden McNabb.

THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Dhaliwal recently reported on Sportsnet 650 that the Canucks are fielding plenty of trade calls, with the bulk of those focused on center Bo Horvat. The 26-year-old Canucks captain is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023 and lacks no-trade protection. Dhaliwal doesn’t see Horvat sticking around if the Canucks start rebuilding.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: First it was the Wild reportedly calling about J.T. Miller, then Boeser and now Horvat. Before long we’ll probably hear rumors of clubs calling about Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko. That’s the way it is when a team is struggling like the Canucks. As one pundit put it, the vultures start circling hoping to steal away a good player.

The uncertainty surrounding the Canucks right now also stirs up the rumors. Everyone’s anticipating a change of management or a new coach or perhaps a trade involving a core player. The longer the losing goes on and the more the Canucks sink in the standings the more the pressure and anticipation ratchet up.

SHOULD THE AVALANCHE ACQUIRE EVANDER KANE?

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater mused over whether the Colorado Avalanche should put in a waiver claim for Evander Kane or perhaps attempt to acquire the San Jose Sharks winger via trade.

Dater acknowledged Kane’s serious personal baggage and the risks involved. However, he also pointed out that big, physical 20-goal scorers aren’t easy to find. Given his $7 million cap hit, it would make more sense to acquire him via trade as the Sharks are reportedly willing to retain half of his annual average value.

THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Dhaliwal yesterday reported the Sharks are working on trading Kane and are willing to absorb half of the winger’s salary to facilitate a deal. He also indicated Kane’s agent is reaching out to teams, including the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Avalanche maxed out for cap space. Assuming general manager Joe Sakic was interested in Kane (which I doubt), the deal would have to be dollar-for-dollar. Otherwise, a third team would have to get involved to help the Avs shed sufficient salary, or Sakic would have to make a separate cost-cutting move.

I really don’t see the Canucks getting involved in Kane. They’ve got enough problems without adding a PR nightmare into the mix.

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported Saturday there was an Eastern Conference club quite interested in Kane. We’ll find out soon enough if there’s a deal to be made there.