NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

Jack Eichel changes agents plus the latest on John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Bo Horvat and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Still in a dispute with the Buffalo Sabres over treatment for his neck injury, center Jack Eichel has changed agents. He will now be represented by Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency, who also represents high-profile players such as Sidney Crosby and John Tavares.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s former agents released a statement a month ago that was critical of the Sabres’ handling of their now-former client’s situation. With no end of the stalemate in sight, hiring Brisson has sparked speculation over its effect upon his trade status. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

NHL.COM: Speaking of Tavares, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain said he’s “doing fantastic” in his recovery from a concussion and knee injury suffered during the playoffs. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to hear that Tavares is healthy and gearing up for the start of the new season. He’ll be under considerable pressure this season to lead the Leafs to playoff success after the club’s stunning first-round collapse against the Montreal Canadiens three months ago.

THE SCORE: After signing Sean Couturier to a contract extension on Thursday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated contract talks with captain Claude Giroux will be held off until the end of 2021-22. Giroux, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher also said both sides are comfortable with that decision. It will allow the Flyers to evaluate their captain’s performance and his future with the club. Giroux will use this season to prove his worth to the Flyers (or other clubs) in his contract year.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is determined to reach the playoffs this season. He believes they have the team to do it. “Enough is enough, we can talk all we want, at the end of the day we have to go out there and prove it on the ice,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expectations were high for the Canucks entering last season after reaching the second round of the 2020 playoffs. A shortened season, an outbreak of COVID-19, the offseason departures Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, and Elias Pettersson’s season-ending injury were critical factors that scuttled their 2021 postseason hopes.

General manager Jim Benning shook up the roster, bringing in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Jaroslav Halak and Jason Dickinson while shedding Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby, Loui Eriksson and several others. Time will tell if those moves improve the Canucks, especially their porous blueline.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes some Jets fans are being overly critical of Josh Morrisey. While the 26-year-old defenseman was accused of slacking off last season after landing a big contract, he was in fact dealing with his father’s fight with brain cancer that eventually took his life on Aug. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrissey didn’t use that as an excuse for his inconsistent play but McIntyre believes it’s a justifiable reason. “How could it NOT have impacted his on-ice performance?”, he asked his readers.

We fans and pundits are quick to criticize players when their performance is not up to their usual standard. Sometimes it’s justified, but more often than not there are genuine reasons behind the decline. Sometimes they’re dealing with a loved one’s life-threatening illness or death. Sometimes they’re trying to play through a serious injury.

Sure, a handful of them can find the physical and mental toughness to overcome those issues and continue playing at a high level of competition. Most, however, will struggle to cope. That doesn’t make them weak. It just makes them normal. We tend to forget that.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed defenseman Jordie Benn to a one-year, $900K contract.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are reportedly close to signing defenseman Libor Hajek.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Ryan Poehling to a two-year contract. That leaves Jesperi Kotkaniemi as their only remaining restricted free agent.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2021

The Canucks win their first game in their return from COVID-19 pause, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Bo Horvat scored two goals, including the winner in overtime, as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. It was the Canucks first game since March 24 as an outbreak of COVID-19 paused their schedule on March 30. Braden Holtby made 37 saves for the win. Canucks defenseman Alex Edler received a five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for a knee-on-knee hit on Leafs winger Zach Hyman in the second period. Hyman left the game and there was no immediate update on his condition following the game.

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hyman’s injured knee is the same one he had surgically repaired in 2019. It remains to seen if Edler will receive supplemental discipline. That aside, it was a big win for the Canucks coming off a traumatic three weeks that threatened to derail the remainder of their schedule. The Leafs, meanwhile, remain in first place in the Scotia North Division with 61 points.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand reached his 700th career point with a four-point performance in a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals. Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each scored twice and David Pastrnak collected three assists. T.J. Oshie scored two goals for the Capitals, who lost Justin Schultz to a lower-body injury. They also played without Zdeno Chara, who is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed ailment. The Capitals sit atop the MassMutual East Division with 62 points while the fourth-place Bruins (56 points) have won four straight and sit three points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins.

The New York Islanders got a 30-save shutout from Ilya Sorokin to nip the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 on Nick Leddy’s overtime goal. The Isles (60 points) are two points behind the Capitals and one up on the Penguins.

Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Buffalo Sabres. Sam Reinhart scored twice and Dustin Tokarski made 34 saves as the Sabres have a record of 3-1-1 in their last five contests.

The New York Rangers blew a 3-0 lead but rallied to down the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Goals by Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome late in the third period gave the Blueshirts the victory. With 52 points, they’re four points behind the Bruins.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone extended his multi-point game streak to four games as his club down the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Stone had a goal and an assist. Teammate Reilly Smith left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day. Vegas moved into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche with 64 points but the Avs sit in first place in the Honda West Division with a game in hand.

YARDBARKER: A report in Sports Business Journal claims NHL jersey advertising could begin as early as 2022-23, though nothing has been approved or finalized yet by the league board of governors. The location of a jersey patch is being discussed and evaluated. It could be placed on the shoulder or chest. The size of the patch remains unclear.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as that patch doesn’t detract from the team logo I don’t think it’s going to be an issue. The league must find as many new streams of hockey-related revenue as possible given the effect of COVID-19 upon its coffers.

SPORTSNET: Seventeen NHL teams are currently using long-term injury reserve for cap relief. The league is going to closely monitor those clubs over the remainder of the season to ensure there’s no cap circumvention.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports the Coyotes will sign defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin to a one-year, $1.35 million contract extension.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, referee Tim Peel will no longer work NHL games, the Lightning and Ducks makes a trade, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Zach Aston-Reese each had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. A further evaluation of his condition is expected today. With 42 points, the Penguins sit two points behind the second-place Washington Capitals in the MassMutual East Division. The Sabres have dropped a league-record 15 straight games in the shootout era. It’s also a franchise record for the beleaguered club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this point, I almost wish there was a mercy rule so the Sabres could just end their schedule today and start the rebuild process. It’s just so painful watching this club flounder through the remainder of a lost season.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp scored a career-high four goals to lead his club to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Bo Horvat returned to the Canucks lineup after leaving the previous game between the two clubs with a lower-body injury. The Jets (42 points) move into a three-way tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers with the Leafs holding first place in the Scotia North Division with a game in hand over the Jets and two on the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Canucks (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens, who hold six games in hand.

The Ottawa Senators staged their second straight upset of the Calgary Flames with a 3-1 victory on second-period goals by Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Nikita Zaitsev. Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves for his second straight win. The Flames have dropped three straight and remain two points behind the Canucks. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced winger Austin Watson (hand injury) will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the sidelined Canadiens hold games in hand, victories aren’t assured for them in what becomes a more compact, difficult schedule. The Canucks and Flames had golden opportunities to overtake the Habs in the standings. These recent losses could prove costly to their playoff hopes.

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Ryan Suter collected his 600th career point as the Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, handing the latter their 10th straight loss on home ice. With 41 points, the Wild sit two back of the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. 

The San Jose Sharks got two goals from Evander Kane and a 42-save performance by Martin Jones to double up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game in the final minutes of the third period following a late hit by Kings forward Jeff Carter.

HEADLINES

The NHL yesterday announced referee Tim Peel will no longer be working games after he was got on a hot mic stating his desire to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peel wasn’t fired but simply relieved of his duties until his intended retirement following what was slated to be his final game on April 24. The incident has raised concerns from Predators players and from pundits over how games are managed by on-ice officials. Some observers believe this could be an opportunity for the league to address this issue but there’s no guarantee we’ll see significant change. The league could simply dismiss this incident as a one-off and move on.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Alexander Volkov to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward prospect Antoine Morand and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois explained this move as a way of providing some short-term salary-cap flexibility and insurance against dressing only five defensemen in the event some of their blueliners suffer multiple short-term injuries. Volkov saw his ice time decline over the course of this season. Ducks GM Bob Murray believes he’ll benefit from a fresh start in Anaheim as the Ducks add more youthful talent.

NBC SPORTS: Bob McKenzie reports contract talks have started between the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov’s representatives. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer. McKenzie suggests they could be working toward a mid-range deal of five or six years or possibly longer. A bridge contract might not work here because it’ll take Kaprizov up to his UFA eligibility age.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There is no definitive timeline for his return.

STLTODAY.COM: Former Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed yesterday in a traffic accident in St. Louis. He was 78. An original member of the Blues renowned for his hip checks, Plager spent 11 of his 14 seasons in St. Louis and three seasons before that with the New York Rangers, finishing his career with 146 points in 644 NHL games. He and his brothers Barclay and Bill skated for the Blues from 1967 to 1972. Plager was one of the most popular players in franchise history and among the most popular of their alumni.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former NHL linesman Swede Knox passed away on Monday from lung cancer at the age of 73. Knox worked 2,248 NHL games from 1972 to 2000, including five Stanley Cup Finals and one NHL All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Plager and Knox families, as well as their friends and former teammates and colleagues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2021

Patrick Kane honored for his 1,000th career game, Andrei Vasilevskiy sets a franchise record, three more Canadiens games are postponed by COVID-19 concerns, changes to the NHL Draft and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrick Kane collected two assists to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Florida Panthers 3-2. Goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves as Chicago snapped a four-game losing skid. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored Kane for recently playing in his 1,000th career NHL game. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov missed the game with a lower-body injury. The Hawks (35 points) hold a two-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth place in the Discover Central Division while the Panthers (44 points) remain one point behind the second-place Carolina Hurricanes.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 16 saves for his franchise-record 12th consecutive win as his club edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Second-period goals by Steven Stamkos and Yanni Gourde gave the Lightning the victory. With 50 points, they sit atop the NHL’s overall standings and hold a five-point lead over the Hurricanes in the Central Division. Before the game, Stars coach Rick Bowness announced forward Joel Kiviranta will be sidelined “for a while” with a lower-body injury.

The Nashville Predators got a 31-save performance Juuse Saros to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Mikael Granlund and Mathieu Olivier were the goal scorers while captain Roman Josi collected an assist in his first game in two weeks. The Predators (31 points) are four back of the Blackhawks in the Central. Meanwhile, the NHL is investigating an incident during this game when one of the referees was overheard on a hot mic apparently admitting to targeting the Predators for a penalty in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The incident didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it would be a concerning issue for the league if its officials give the impression they’re singling out teams or players for questionable infractions.

Shootout goals by Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, snapping the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Arizona overcame a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals by Lawson Crouse and Phil Kessel to force extra time. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was placed on injured reserve before the game with a lower-body injury. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists with the Avs (43 points), who sit two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Jonas Johansson made 28 saves in his debut with Colorado. The Coyotes (33 points) are four back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

The New Jersey Devils got a 30-save effort from Mackenzie Blackwood to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Yegor Sharangovich and Travis Zajac each had a goal and an assist for the Devils. Sean Couturier scored twice for the Flyers (34 points), who remain two back of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers had won just three of their last 10 games. They’ve failed to gain ground on a Bruins team sidelined by COVID-19 protocols.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens next three games have been postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. They were scheduled to play the Edmonton Oilers today and Friday and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Their game this past Monday with the Oilers was also postponed when Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID protocol list. They remain the only two Habs on the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will have a difficult time making up those games. The Gazette reports they’re scheduled to play 16 games in 30 days in April and four games in eight days in May. It will also be a problem for the Oilers.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Four Anaheim Ducks – Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and Anthony Stolarz – were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The total number of players on the list has grown to 15.

TSN: The NHL’s proposed changes to the draft lottery were formally approved yesterday by the league’s board of governors.

Starting this year, only the top-two spots in the draft will be determined by the lottery, down from the previous number of three.

Starting in 2022, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots, meaning only 11 of the 16 non-playoff teams will be eligible for the first-overall pick. Also starting in 2022, a team can win the lottery no more than twice in a five-year period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pierre LeBrun reports the changes are meant to augment the chances of the bottom teams getting the first-overall pick. That became an issue in three of the last four drafts when teams with the worst record in the league slid to fourth overall in the draft lottery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skipped practice yesterday dealing with a lower-body injury. Head coach Peter Laviolette downplayed Ovechkin’s absence by claiming it was “more just maintenance than anything.”

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury and hasn’t been ruled out for tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Austin Watson could be sidelined for a while with an injured left arm. He was spotted in the stands during practice yesterday with a cast on that arm.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks forward Kurtis Gabriel was fined $3.017.24 by the NHL’s department of player safety for a pre-game altercation with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid on Monday. Head coach Bob Boughner was fined $5,000.00 and the team received a $25,000.00 fine.










NHL Playoffs: These 10 Players Are Shining In The Stanley Cup Spotlight

NHL Playoffs: These 10 Players Are Shining In The Stanley Cup Spotlight

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2020

Recaps of Friday’s action, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask opts out of return-to-play, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (Photo via NHL Images)

  NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat opened and finished the scoring as he led his club to a 4-3 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues, taking a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round series. Horvat’s game-winner came after the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz tied the game in the dying seconds of regulation. Canucks forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser each had two points, as did the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues outhit the Canucks 41-27 but struggled at times to keep up with their speedy young opponents. They’re also getting no production from sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. The Canucks have an opportunity to take a stranglehold on this series in Game 3 on Sunday.

Tomas Tatar and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 to square their first-round series at one game apiece. Carey Price kicked out 30 shots for his second shutout of the postseason. Flyers winger Travis Konecny left the game in the third period after injuring his left foot blocking a shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Determined to win this game for sidelined coach Claude Julien, the Canadiens came out flying with a rare dominating performance. Flyers coach Alain Vigneault expressed his displeasure following the game over Habs interim coach Kirk Muller putting his top power-play unit on the ice late in the game. Muller said it was merely to give a little more work to his club’s erratic play with the man advantage.

Vigneault indicated he’d try to use that as motivation for his players in Game 3. If that’s his intended rallying point, the Flyers could be in worse shape than we thought. They’re a better team than what we’ve seen thus far in this series, but most of their scoring forwards have fired blanks thus far in this postseason. If those players don’t start scoring soon, the Flyers could be in big trouble against the underdog Habs.

Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot made 35 saves to shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 3 of their series, putting his club up two games to one. Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie were the goalscorers for the Flames, who hope to have sidelined winger Matthew Tkachuk back in their lineup for Game 3 on Sunday. Earlier in the day, the Flames announced forward Austin Czarnik has returned home to attend to a personal matter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot stole this one for the Flames, as the Stars dominated the play for most of this contest. They were also their own worst enemies, missing several quality scoring chances.

Three unanswered goals by Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, and Anders Lee powered the New York Islanders over the Washington Capitals 5-2, giving the Isles a 2-0 series lead. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied both goals for his club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders were the better-disciplined team in this contest, as the Capitals were sloppy defensively and took too many unnecessary penalties. Without a better effort in Game 3, the Caps could fall into a hole too deep to climb out of against the determined Isles.

The Colorado Avalanche took a 2-0 series lead over the Arizona Coyotes with a 3-2 victory. Andre Burakovsky snapped a 2-2 tie with 2:53 remaining in regulation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a disappointing defeat for the Coyotes, who had a strong bounce-back effort after being dominated by the Avs in Game 1. Game 3 now becomes a must-win for the Desert Dogs.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has opted out of participating further in the return-to-play plan. In a statement released by the team, Rask indicated he’s making the decision for family reasons. “I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family.”  Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Rask’s priorities are in the right order, noting the goalie had a newborn baby daughter born just months ahead of the return-to-play in Toronto. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their starting goaltender is a significant blow for the Bruins in the midst of their opening-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Backup Jaroslav Halak will take over the starter’s role, and NBC Sports suggests Daniel Vladar will be Halak’s understudy.

Some will rush to criticize Rask’s actions, but we don’t know the full story other than it’s for family reasons. He may have found being isolated from his family for weeks simply too difficult to bear. The Bruins and the league are respecting his decision. We should too. 

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and New Jersey Devils blueliner P.K. Subban are the finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins winger David Pastrnak didn’t practice yesterday and remains uncertain for Game 3 today against the Carolina Hurricanes. The 48-goal scorer was unfit to play in Game 2 following an apparent left injury in the previous game.

TSN: The Florida Panthers plan to interview former Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Mike Futa as they search for a replacement for former general manager Dale Tallon.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs have let go of assistant coaches Paul McFarland and Andrew Brewer.

WGR550: The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly hiring Seth Appert as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have suspended the mascot actor who performs as team mascot Bailey. He is being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct.