NHL Gold & Mold: More Coaches For The Guillotine, More Chances for Kovalchuk
The Devils fire head coach John Hynes, the Canadiens snap a lengthy losing skid, changes could be coming for NHL coaches, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Hours before their game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the New Jersey Devils fired head coach John Hynes, replacing him on an interim basis with Alain Nasreddine. The move, however, could prevent the Devils from dropping a 4-3 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault tallied a natural hat trick in the third period for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Devils’ poor performance thus far, it’s not surprising Hynes was fired. He deserves his fair share of the blame, but can’t be faulted for the lousy goaltending, weak secondary scoring, and lack of defensive depth. Nevertheless, the club’s lack of effort in his final two games was indicative that he’d lost the players.
The Montreal Canadiens snapped their eight-game winless skid by doubling up the New York Islanders 4-2. Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber each had a goal and an assist for the Habs, who commemorated their 110th anniversary by honoring 11 former captains in a pre-game ceremony. Among the notables were Hall-of-Famers Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Guy Carbonneau. Saku Koivu, the captain from 1999 to 2009, received the biggest cheer.
Four first-period goals powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Antoine Roussel scored on his first shift in his season debut after being sidelined eight months by a knee injury. Before the game, former Canucks winger Alex Burrows’ name was added to the club’s ring of honor.
Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak turned in a 24-save shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Charlie Coyle and David Krejci tallied both goals in the third period. The Bruins have won eight straight games.
Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen kicked out 44 shots in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Wild are unbeaten in their last 10 games (7-0-3).
Five third-period goals powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers collected three assists while Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere each had a goal and an assist. Before the game, the Leafs placed Nick Shore on waivers, recalled defenseman Martin Marincin, and announced Trevor Moore (shoulder injury) is weeks away from returning to the lineup.
A three-point performance by Carl Soderberg helped the Arizona Coyotes defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves for the win.
Nikita Kucherov scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Nashville Predators 3-2. Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each had two points on the night. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist for the Predators. Nashville center Ryan Johansen was ejected from a game for elbowing Lightning center Brayden Point in the face.
The Winnipeg Jets picked up their seventh win in their last nine contests by downing the Dallas Stars 5-1. Jets winger Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will be sidelined for two months with an upper-body injury.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson collected three points while teammates Jakub Vrana and Garnet Hathaway each scored twice in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
TSN: Former NHL player Akim Aliu believes big changes are coming to the NHL after meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman and other officials at the league’s office in Toronto yesterday. Aliu’s claims that Bill Peters made racist remarks to him a decade ago led to the latter’s stepping down last week as Calgary Flames head coach.
Frank Seravalli reports some of the topics discussed at the meeting include “comprehensive harassment and discrimination policy, whistleblower and retaliation protection for players, encouraging more diversity and inclusion and breaking the culture of silence.”
The NHL Coaches’ Association released a statement yesterday affirming there is no room for abusive behavior by coaches at any level. They are working with the league and the NHL Players Association to ensure respectful working environments for everyone.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Sean Avery spoke out in support of Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford, who was placed on leave as the club investigates allegations of abuse against him. Avery recently said Crawford kicked him during a game but defended the coach’s actions. “He had every right in the world to kick me in the ass. He should have spanked my ass a little bit more. I deserved it. I loved Crow.” He went on to call Crawford his second-favorite NHL coach.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators players Dylan DeMelo and Mark Borowiecki claim they had a good relationship with Crawford during his tenure with the club. Former Senator and Canucks Alex Burrows praised Crawford for helping him become an NHL player.
Another former Canuck, Harold Druken, accused Crawford of physical and verbal abuse when he broke into the league. “I can’t believe he’s still coaching, I wouldn’t let him coach my dog,” said Druken.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings coach Todd McLellan believes players and coaches do their best not to cross the line between right and wrong. However, he acknowledged the changes in the game and society means that line has also changed. He believes it’s important to build trust and treat his players with respect, and expecting it in return.
“The line between pushing a player — I’m not talking physical — but getting the player to maximize his physical talents and to get a team to pull together and go further into their toolbox than they ever have, is delicate,” McLellan said. “Sometimes feelings are hurt. There’s never an intention behind it, but there are feelings that get hurt.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no place in the league, or anywhere else. for racism, which was what resulted in Peters’ downfall. There’s no place for physical abuse, which is what he was also accused of by two other former NHLers.
Crawford, Mike Babcock, and Darryl Sutter weren’t accused of racism, but emerging stories of alleged physical and verbal abuse toward their players have made headlines in recent days. Those tactics may have been effective but it appears they sometimes went too far. Some players shrugged it off or accepted it as part of the game, but others felt tormented by those actions.
Just because many former players tolerated unnecessary abuse by a few coaches doesn’t mean today’s players have to. A coach can motivate and improve their players without resorting to bullying, humiliation or threats.
CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith could miss at least two more games with a nagging groin injury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist will be sidelined “longer term” with an undisclosed injury.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Matt Stajan announced his retirement. Stajan played 14 seasons and 1,003 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. He spent last season playing in Germany for EHC Red Bull Munchen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s wishing Stajan and his family all the best in his future endeavors.
The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Kyle Turris, Jake Muzzin and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LATEST TSN “INSIDER TRADING”
TSN: Darren Dreger reports there’s a growing sense of optimism that Dustin Byfuglien could return to the Winnipeg Jets. There’s still no guarantee or timeline for the big defenseman’s return. Byfuglien would be a welcome addition to the Jets’ struggling blueline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will give Byfuglien the time and space he needs to reach a decision. You can bet they’re hoping his return comes sooner rather than later.
Bob McKenzie believes it’s worth watching Kyle Turris’ situation with the Nashville Predators. The 30-year-old center is earning $6 million annually with five seasons remaining on his contract but he’s also seeing fourth-line minutes. McKenzie doesn’t think it’s any secret general manager David Poile was trying to move Turris this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Turris’ reduced ice time he has four points in six games this season. That puts him on a 54-point pace and could make him attractive to clubs in need of depth at center ice. That hefty cap hit, however, could make Turris difficult to move. Poile doesn’t pick up part of a player’s salary to facilitate a deal but he might have to break with that tradition in this case.
Pierre LeBrun believes the Toronto Maple Leafs could find it challenging to re-sign Jake Muzzin. The 30-year-old defenseman is due to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
LeBrun said there have been no contract discussions, in part because the Leafs were focused on re-signing their restricted free agents this summer. Blueliners Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci are also slated for UFA status. LeBrun thinks the Leafs want to take some time to evaluate and prioritize those rearguards. They can’t afford to re-sign all three and might not be able to re-sign two of them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Leafs have over $65.5 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21. Muzzin and Barrie could cost at least a combined $13 million to re-sign. That won’t leave much for the rest of the roster. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas did a good job juggling his limited salary cap space this summer. It’ll be interesting to see if he can pull it off again.
LeBrun and McKenzie reported the struggling Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils will remain patient with their respective head coaches. Speculation arose in recent days over the future of Wild coach Bruce Boudreau and Devils bench boss John Hynes, with false reports yesterday claiming Hynes was fired. Dreger also noted the Dallas Stars have stumbled from the gate but there’s no sense of panic coming from the front office or the coaching staff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hynes could feel the heat much sooner than the others. Expectations were high following the summer’s acquisitions of P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and promising Jack Hughes. Many observers predicted they would be a playoff contender. If they don’t turn things around soon, calls for Hynes’ firing will grow among Devils followers.