NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2021
COVID-19 outbreak forces postponement of three Flames games, the three stars of the week are revealed plus updates on Blake Wheeler, Aleksander Barkov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
CALGARY SUN: Three Flames games (including last night’s scheduled match against the Chicago Blackhawks) were postponed after six players (Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka) and one member of the training staff tested positive for COVID-19. Flames general manager Brad Treliving said the players were doing well and asymptomatic but expressed concern for them and their families.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are the third team since mid-November to have games postponed because of COVID-19, joining the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders. Future outbreaks among other clubs resulting in postponements could adversely affect the schedule. That could jeopardize NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February. The league has until Jan. 10 to opt out without suffering financial penalties.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Winter Olympics, several NHL stars have joined Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo expressing concern over the possibility of spending a lengthy period quarantined in Beijing should they test positive for COVID-19 during the Olympics.
Toronto Maple Leafs captain and potential Team Canada candidate John Tavares said he felt more uneasy about potentially going to Beijing than he did several weeks or months ago. Teammate Auston Matthews, who is already selected for Team USA, shared those concerns. Meanwhile, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said it would be an honor to be selected for Canada’s squad but he’d like more clarity about the COVID protocols for the Winter Olympics.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chinese law states those who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for three to five weeks. There’s no word yet as to whether that will also apply to Olympic athletes from other countries. Clarification is expected in the coming weeks and could be a determining factor for some NHL stars selected to participate in the Winter Games.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to make its presence felt with some other NHL teams.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis entered COVID protocol yesterday. Defensemen Brett Pesce and Tony DeAngelo are expected to rejoin the roster today after being sidelined since Nov. 28 by the coronavirus.
SPORTSNET: Christian Jaros joined New Jersey Devils teammates Nico Hischier and Ryan Graves in COVID protocol. Forward Yegor Sherangovich has not entered protocol but was withheld from practice yesterday for precautionary reasons.
THE DETROIT FREE PRESS: Tyler Bertuzzi is rejoining the Red Wings after emerging from a 10-day COVID quarantine. The only unvaccinated player in the league, Bertuzzi isn’t reconsidering his position, saying he now has “natural immunity” from the coronavirus.
The US Centers for Disease Control says unvaccinated people who previously had COVID-19 are 2.34 times more likely to get reinfected than vaccinated people who’ve had it. Food for thought.
Speaking of the Red Wings, they signed Robby Fabbri to a three-year, $12 million contract extension. The annual average value is $4 million. The 25-year-old forward was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko, Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 12.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler will be sidelined for weeks with an apparent right-leg injury.
THE ATHLETIC: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov has returned to injured reserve after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury. He returned to the lineup last Tuesday after missing eight games with a knee injury.
The Panthers also claimed goaltender Jonas Johansson off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing in Johansson likely means promising Spencer Knight could be heading to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Sergei Bobrovsky’s solid performance has limited Knight to just nine starts this season. There’s no fear of losing him to another club because he’s exempt from waivers.
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zach Hyman is listed as day-to-day but hasn’t been ruled out from tonight’s game against his former club, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed goaltender Anton Khudobin on waivers yesterday. If he clears it’s expected he’ll be sent to their AHL affiliate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin struggled this season and was a healthy scratch in several recent games as the club stuck with the tandem of Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger. Teams were reportedly interested in trading for him but wanted to see him play more games first. Sending him to the minors will allow him to get some games in while also clearing room for the Stars to recall another player if needed.
NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed David Perron, Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn on injured reserve, activated Tyler Bozak and Justin Faulk from COVID protocol, and recalled forward Alexei Toropchenko from their AHL affiliate in Springfield.
The Los Angeles Kings recently placed defenseman Alexander Edler (lower body) on injured reserve.