NHL players will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Senators sign Drake Batherson, the Red Wings ink Filip Hronek to a new deal, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The league has reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to take part in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. NHL players will be returning to the Olympics for the first time since the Sochi Games in 2014. The league will break from Feb. 3-22 to allow for the 2022 All-Star Game in Las Vegas followed by the Olympics.
NHL players will take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics (NHL.com).
The agreement also provides the league and the NHL Players Association the option for a possible later decision to withdraw from the Beijing Games in the event COVID-19 conditions render participation to be impractical or unsafe.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some hockey fans and pundits believe the NHL should boycott the Beijing Games for a variety of reasons. That decision, however, isn’t up to the league.
The players wanted Olympic participation as part of the extension to the CBA. As a result, the league had to work with the PA, IIHF and the International Olympic Committee to reach an agreement on the Beijing Games. It appears the only thing that will prevent it will be the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators winger Drake Batherson to a six-year, $29.85 million contract. The 23-year-old winger’s annual average value is $4.975 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Batherson enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020-21 after two short seasons with the Senators, tallying 17 goals and 34 points in 56 games. The report noted that the versatile two-way forward enjoyed terrific chemistry on a line with Brady Tkachuk and Josh Norris. That should continue in the coming years as the rebuilding Senators rise in the standings. Batherson’s new contract could also be a cost-effective deal if he continues to improve as management believes he will.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings signed Filip Hronek to a three-year, $13.2 million contract. That’s a $4.4 million annual average cap hit for the 23-year-old defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable new deal for Hronek, who developed into the Red Wings’ best blueliner over the past two seasons. He’ll likely be joined on their top pairing by Nick Leddy, who was acquired earlier this summer from the New York Islanders.
STLTODAY.COM: After signing an eight-year contract extension, Colton Parayko assured nervous Blues fans that he’s fully recovered from the back injury that hampered him last season. The 28-year-old defenseman missed 21 games but said he required minimal offseason treatment, relying instead on rest and building up the muscles around it.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins invited forward Brian Boyle and defenseman Matt Bartkowski to training camp on professional tryout offers. Boyle is attempting a comeback after sitting out last season while Bartkowski spent all but one game last season with the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Rocky Thompson has stepped down as an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks. Medical reasons prevent him from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, making it difficult for him to perform his duties under the league’s COVID protocols for the coming season.
USA HOCKEY: John Hynes, David Quinn, Todd Reirden and Ryan Miller will serve as assistant coaches to head coach Mike Sullivan for the 2022 USA Men’s Olympic hockey team.
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.
The New Jersey Devils yesterday fired head coach John Hynes (Photo via NHL.com).
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.