NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 18, 2020

The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final, the Coyotes have a new general manager, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015. Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime as the Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final to win the series 4-2 and the Prince of Wales Trophy as the Conference champions.

Islanders defenseman Devon Toews opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it with his ninth goal of the playoffs. Hedman is tied with Bobby Orr and Brad Park for the third-most goals in a single postseason by an NHL defenseman.

The Islanders were playing without defenseman Adam Pelech, who suffered a broken wrist in Game 5 that will require surgery. He was replaced by Noah Dobson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Lightning, whose depth of talent proved the difference in this series. The Isles also deserve praise for their impressive playoff run.

The Lightning will face the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final which begins Saturday with Game 1 at 7:30 pm ET. The league has released the full schedule for the Final. Game 7 (if necessary) would be played on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially named Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. Armstrong is the former assistant GM and director of scouting for the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this move by the Coyotes. Armstrong is an experienced and successful NHL executive, which is what the Coyotes need right now.

Armstrong began as an amateur scout with the Blues in 2004, became their director of scouting in 2010. He’s also a former AHL and ECHL coach. During his tenure, the Blues drafted such notables as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Binnington, Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes were behind on their payments to the company that manages the Gila River Arena. The club had layoffs and furloughs of employees in mid-August, citing the pandemic. Several players were also late receiving their bonus payments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes are the most noteworthy team that appears to be having financial difficulties tied to the pandemic. It’ll be interesting to see if reports of similar problems emerge for other NHL clubs in the coming weeks and months.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs hired Manny Malhotra as an assistant coach.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a two-year, $2.15-million contract extension.

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals re-signed forward Brian Pinho to a two-year contract, with the second year being a one-way deal. He’ll earn $700K at the NHL level in the first year and $750K in the second.

WGR550.COM: The Rochester Americans hired Adam Mair and Mike Weber as assistant coaches. The Americans are the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.

IIHF.COM: The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship will be staged as a single-venue format in Edmonton under similar quarantine bubble conditions as the NHL’s return-to-play tournament.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2020

NHLPA executive board approves tentative CBA, three games per day are planned for the playoff tournament, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST CBA AND RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

NHLPA: announced its executive board (which includes the 31 player representatives) approved the tentative extension to the collective bargaining agreement. It moves today to a ratification vote by the full PA membership. The results will be announced on Friday, July, 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The CBA extension is packaged with the return-to-play plan that requires the approval of the players and the NHL board of governors. A simple majority by the PA membership is needed to approve the CBA extension. Despite recent reports suggesting some players weren’t happy with the process of negotiations, this package is expected to be approved.

No word yet when the board of governors will vote. That will require a two-thirds majority but it is also expected to sail through.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports the return-to-play plan will see three games a day in both Edmonton and Toronto with local start times at noon, 4 pm and 8 pm. Given the two-hour time difference between those cities, it means six games spread over 15 hours per day, perhaps longer if games go into overtime.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talk about hockey overdose! My wife is telling me to enjoy the rest of this month because she knows she won’t see much of me in August and September. That’s assuming COVID-19 doesn’t derail the planned tournament. 

The seeding games involving the top-four clubs in each conference during the qualifying round won’t go into unlimited overtime to decide a winner. They’ll instead follow the regular season rules of a brief overtime period followed by a shootout if necessary.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 16 teams involved in the qualifying round will be under playoff overtime rules.

Will players with pre-existing medical conditions, like Montreal’s Max Domi, be prevented from skating in the upcoming playoff tournament? (Photo via NHL Images)

McKenzie also reports the league has the power to deem players unfit to play if they think there’s a higher risk of that player becoming extremely ill if they contract COVID-19. He cites Montreal Canadiens’ center Max Domi and New York Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko as examples. Both are type 1 diabetics with celiac disease. To the best of McKenzie’s knowledge, Domi and Kakko intend to play, but doctors will have to sign off on that first.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams has concerns over the coronavirus, but he’s still keen to contend for the Stanley Cup. “I didn’t come back to play 20 games,” said Williams during a video media call. “I came back for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”

Williams also stressed the need for the players to take responsibility to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

You need to tighten up the bubble of people you’re hanging out with,” Williams said. “You need make your inner circle is pretty darn small because what you do affects everybody else.

That’s pretty much the basis of what a team is anyway. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, but at this point your weakest link can take down your whole team.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s probably going to be the approach for all the teams throughout Phase 3. Despite the increase in detection, disinfection, and social-distancing protocols during the phase, the players will still be at risk because they’re still living at home, traveling to and from their team arenas and training facilities, and still in contact with the general public.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Seth Rorabaugh provides further details about the league’s protocols for Phases 3 and 4.

Some of the noteworthy Phase 3 rules include the independent media being allowed at team facilities but prohibited from direct contact with the players, the players being discouraged from socializing with one another outside team facilities, and tighter restrictions on commonly-used items and food.

In Phase 4, everyone must use league-provided and approved transportation with the secure zone. There are detailed guidelines on the use of masks and face coverings, and a limited number of media allowed access to the games, with interviews conducted remotely. Speaking of the media…

CBC: Broadcasters and print journalists still have questions over how they’re going to cover the playoff tournament in the two host cities. Rob Corte, VP of Sportsnet and NHL Production, said those details have yet to be finalized. Frank Seravalli, president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, said the situation remains in flux.

It’s believed the broadcasts will be handled like the Olympics, with only cameramen, technicians, and production staff allowed inside the bubble while commentators call the games elsewhere from a live feed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The media won’t have the usual access during these two phases that they enjoy in normal situations. It will be challenging to provide the usual in-depth coverage. The teams might prefer the absence of media intrusion, especially during and immediately following the games.

ESPN.COM: Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, doesn’t expect any hurdles in negotiations with the league regarding its intention to return to the Winter Olympics. Issues such as health insurance, travel costs, and marketing rights must be worked out before NHL players can participate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The IIHF desperately wanted the NHL to take part in the 2018 Winter Games, even offering to pick up the tab for travel, insurance, and so on. 

IN OTHER NEWS…

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks released a statement indicating they intend to keep their name and logo but are committed to raising the bar even higher in their efforts to increase awareness of Native American culture. The statement comes amid discussions by the NFL’s Washington Redskins and MLB’s Cleveland Indians about changing their names.

TSN: The NHLPA will be in court today attempting to dismiss a lawsuit by a former employee alleging the cover-up of more than $100K from union funds by one of its executives between 2008 and 2019.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 27, 2019

The Jets edged the Flames in the Heritage Classic, the Bruins blank the Blues in their Stanley Cup Final rematch, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Josh Morrissey’s third-period goal set the stage for Bryan Little’s overtime winner as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Calgary Flames 2-1 in the 2019 Tim Horton’s NHL Heritage Classic at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan. Elias Lindholm scored for the Flames. It was the 28th outdoor game in NHL history and the first neutral-site game of the seven played in Canada.

Bryan Little’s overtime goal gave the Winnipeg Jets a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames in the 2019 Heritage Classic (Photo via NHL Images).

The Boston Bruins gained a measure of revenge over the St. Louis Blues with a 3-0 shutout in their first game since the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Tuukka Rask kicked out 26 shots and David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 11th goal.

Jonathan Drouin scored two breakaway goals to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Joel Armia scored a goal and collected an assist while Carey Price made 29 saves. Earlier in the day, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported the Canadiens have opened contract extension talks with defenseman Victor Mete. 

The Nashville Predators nipped the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on an overtime goal by Ryan Ellis. Predators captain Roman Josi scored the game-tying goal and added two assists.

A five-goal third-period outburst lifted the Philadelphia Flyers from a 4-2 deficit to a 7-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. James van Riemsdyk scored twice and added an assist while Jakub Voracek and Kevin Hayes each had a goal and two assists. Boone Jenner scored twice for the Blue Jackets, who also lost winger Alexandre Texier to a leg injury

The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a three-game losing skid by downing the Dallas Stars 3-0. Matt Murray turned in a 25-save shutout while Bryan Rust scored in his season debut. Earlier in the day, the Penguins activated Rust and Nick Bjugstad off injured reserve and assigned Zach Trotman to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek had a 32-save performance as his club blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. Andrei Svechnikov scored two goals as the Hurricanes snapped a three-game losing skid while the Blackhawks have dropped four straight.

The Anaheim Ducks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Colorado Avalanche 5-2. Ryan Miller made 35 saves for the win while teammate Hampus Lindholm collected three assists. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored to extend his points streak to 11 games. 

Alex Stalock turned aside 30 shots to give the Minnesota Wild a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Matt Dumba had two assists for the Wild, who’ve won three of their last four contests. 

SPORTSNET:  NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, IIHF president René Fasel and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr will all be in Stockholm, Sweden next month for the NHL’s Global Series between the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re expected to discuss the Olympics and other international play. 

Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL could start up a women’s league when the time is right. Bettman has consistently said he won’t get involved as long as the NWHL continues to operate. The players have pushed for a unified league, with over 200 of them staging a boycott to get the league they want.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2019

Game recaps, Mikko Koivu suffers a season-ending injury, Devils trade Brian Boyle to Nashville, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs blew a 4-2 lead but Morgan Rielly’s third-period goal gave them a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. Magnus Paajarvi scored twice for the Senators. During the game, CBC’s long-time play-by-play man Bob Cole was given a standing ovation as he called his final Leafs game. 

Morgan Rielly’s third-period goal gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images)

The New York Rangers edged the Boston Bruins 4-3 on a shootout goal by Tony DeAngelo. 

SPORTSNET: Speak of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk vows his club will spend close to the salary cap from 2021 to 2025 once the club’s current rebuild is completed. “The Senators will be all-in again for a five-year run of unparalleled success – where the team will plan to spend close to the NHL’s salary cap every year from 2021 to 2025,” according to a statement released by the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remains to be seen if Senators fans will buy into Melnyk’s vision. They’ve been disappointed by the club’s direction in recent years and unhappy with Melnyk’s ownership of the Sens. 

The Minnesota Wild yesterday announced captain Mikko Koivu is expected to undergo season-ending surgery Friday on his right knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koivu’s absence leaves a big hole at the second-line center position that could prove difficult to fill. It will affect their efforts to hang onto a playoff spot in the Western Conference

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators made two trades yesterday. The first saw them acquire forward Brian Boyle from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. They also reacquired forward Cody McLeod from the New York Rangers in exchange for a seventh-round selection in the 2020 draft. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Austin Watson sidelined indefinitely while undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction and Zac Rinaldo undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery the Predators had a need for more size and grit on their checking lines. Boyle and McLeod should address those issues. Boyle also brings in additional leadership and playoff experience plus he also has a decent scoring touch, with 13 goals in 47 games this season. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray is questionable for the club’s upcoming three-game road trip after suffering an upper-body injury. Head coach Mike Sullivan said it’s not a concussion and Murray will travel with the team. Goalie Tristan Jarry has been recalled on an emergency basis

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien returns to action tonight against the Montreal Canadiens after missing 15 games with a foot injury. Blueliner Josh Morrissey is questionable after blocking a shot during Tuesday’s overtime loss against San Jose. 

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot apologized to his teammates for remaining in the dressing room after being pulled in the third period of their 6-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. 

CSNPHILLY.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers placed forward Jori Lehtera on waivers. He’s expected to clear and be sent to their AHL affiliate.

Former NHL stars Mike Modano, Miroslav Satan, and Ziggy Palffy are among the eight members of the International Ice Hockey Federations’ Hall of Fame Class of 2019. 

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks forward and captain Andre Boudrias has passed away at age 75. He spent 12 seasons in the NHL from 1963-64 to 1975-76 with the Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota North Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and St. Louis Blues. His most successful period was with the Canucks, with five straight seasons of 61-plus points. He was also an assistant general manager with the Montreal Canadiens and was part of their Stanley Cup championship teams in 1986 and 1993. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Boudrias’ family, friends, and former teammates and associates. He was the Canucks first scoring star, netting a career-best 78 points in 1974-75 and leading them to their first playoff appearance in 1975. He also spent two seasons in the WHA, helping the Quebec Nordiques win the Avco World Trophy in 1977. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 13, 2017

Calgary Flames announce they won’t pursue a new arena deal with the city.

Flames not pursuing new arena deal plus latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Flames president and CEO Ken King said Tuesday the team’s ownership will no longer pursue a new arena deal with the city of Calgary. The club will continue playing in the 34-year-old Scotiabank Saddledome but will no longer invest in the building.  “We’ll just go on and run our business and do what we can to operate and try and figure out what the future will look like at some point later,” said King.

League commissioner Gary Bettman believes there would be long-term consequences, suggesting Calgarians make their voice heard on the subject in the upcoming municipal election. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is seeking a third term and has clashed several times with King over a new arena.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames ownership looked north to Edmonton, saw the Oilers get a brand new, state of the art arena with the city picking up half the cost and want the same thing. The city of Calgary, however, was reportedly willing to front $200 million of a proposed $890 million arena project.

In my opinion, the timing of King’s announcement and Bettman’s talk of consequences are designed to to turn the arena issue into an election topic in hopes of either bringing about a change of municipal leadership or forcing the current one to bend on the issue.

NBC SPORTS: The city of Seattle was scheduled yesterday to hold a press conference announcing the unveiling of a new NHL-friendly $660 million arena. However, the presser was cancelled as Seattle mayor Ed Murray resigned over sexual abuse allegations. It’s unclear how Murray’s resignation affects these plans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If this proposal goes through you can bet Seattle will be linked to the Flames as a relocation option if there’s no resolution to that club’s arena issues. 

OTTAWA SUN:  Senators president Tom Anselmi predicts it could take four to five years for his club to move to a proposed downtown arena at LeBreton Flats.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are reducing their seating at Canadian Tire Centre this season because of lower than expected attendance last season. One has to wonder if that will affect the seating in their proposed new venue. 

SPORTSNET: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he was willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Calgary Flames before last season’s trade deadline. Fleury, however, hoped to finish the season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the club opted to keep him. By the time the playoffs were over, it was a foregone conclusion he was going to the Vegas Golden Knights. Fleury said he’s fine with how things turned out. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Speaking of the Penguins, defenseman Kris Letang is cleared to join his teammates in training camp. He underwent neck surgery last April that sidelined him from the 2017 playoffs. 

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild are bringing free-agent forward Daniel Winnik to training camp on a tryout basis. 

NBC SPORTS: New York Islanders forward Alan Quine will miss the next four-six weeks with an upper-body injury. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Former Coyotes star Shane Doan is among the 2017 inductees into the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. 

SUNSENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning partnered with the NHL and NHLPA to donate $2.7 million for Hurricane Irma relief. 

CSN MIDATLANTIC: The International Ice Hockey Federation assured the NHL that it won’t allow players under NHL contract to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. 

 











Bettman’s Olympics Brinkmanship

Bettman’s Olympics Brinkmanship

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman seems to be in a staredown with the IOC & IIHF over Olympic participation.

The National Hockey League continues to play coy over allowing its players to take part in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Some observers suggest the likelihood is growing dimmer after a recent “courtesy” meeting in New York involving officials from the NHL, the NHL Players Association, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

For weeks, league commissioner Gary Bettman has repeatedly claimed there’s “strong, negative sentiment” toward Olympic participation by the team owners. Various factors, from shutting the season down during the Olympic period, to travel accommodation and insurance costs for the players, to rumored league-wide unhappiness over a lack of revenue from the Olympics are cited as the chief concerns.

So if the NHL isn’t keen on taking part in the 2018 Games, why this ongoing slow dance with the IOC and the IIHF? Why hasn’t Bettman firmly stated that the league won’t be sending its best players to South Korea?

I believe it has to do with money, as it always does. 

Despite the overall feelings of the NHL team owners, Bettman is the one who rules the roost. The league commissioner may represent the owners, but he has the final say in these matters.

Some of the owners are likely openly hostile to the notion of future Olympic participation, but I believe Bettman has an eye on the future. He knows the NHL has pretty much tapped out the North American market. If the league is to continue “growing the game” – and by that, I mean generate more revenue – it must turn to the international market.

The NHL has already made inroads in Europe by attracting that continent’s best players. It’s only rival is the feeble Kontinental Hockey League, a money-losing venture propped up by Russian oil oligarchs.

Next season, the NHL intends to stage a couple of regular-season games, possibly involving the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators, in one of the European hockey nations. The league has staged regular-season contests in Europe before. If the latest excursion goes well, more regular-season match-ups could be in store down the road.

The possibility of an NHL franchise or two has long been kicked around. While it’s no closer to a reality, the league can cash in by attracting more eyeballs through broadcasting and advertising.

China is considered the biggest untapped market. The KHL is attempting to garner a foothold there. The NHL is already involved in sponsorship programs in China, and apparently have an eye on staging preseason games in the near future. 

While the NHL isn’t keen to get into the 2018 Games, there’s a belief its preference is to take part in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

Bettman is a savvy negotiator. He sees the possibilities of expanding the NHL brand into the Chinese market by having its best talent skating in the Beijing Games. It’s likely a key reason behind his willingness to chat with the IOC and IIHF. Perhaps he’s hoping those organizations will bless the NHL skipping South Korea next year to return in Beijing in 2022.

That’s not the only money Bettman could be looking at. His concerns about travel and insurance already prompted the IIHF to step up and say they’ll cover those costs. Perhaps he’s hoping the same tack will squeeze the IOC for more broadcasting and advertising revenue. 

The IOC and IIHF can make do without the NHL’s participation. But both organizations know the 2018 Men’s Olympic Hockey Tournament will be a better sell to a worldwide audience with NHL stars taking part. Otherwise, the IOC wouldn’t be travelling to New York for a “courtesy” visit and the IIHF wouldn’t have agreed to cover the players’ travel and insurance.

Bettman also knows the players really want to take part in the Olympics. That’s why he recently offered to extend the current collective bargaining agreement by three years in exchange for a robust schedule of international competitions with the Olympics as the centerpiece.

The players, of course, balked at that notion because of their unhappiness over the hated escrow clawbacks from their paychecks under this CBA. However, the presence of PA director Donald Fehr at the meeting with the IOC and IIHF suggests that window isn’t fully closed yet.

A decision will be required soon from the league in order to prepare its schedule for next season, plus the IOC and IIHF will also need to be informed in order to update their own plans. Brinkmanship plays a significant role in Bettman’s negotiating style. He likes to take things right up to the deadline in order to hammer out an agreement with favorable terms for the NHL owners. 

How this ultimately plays out will keep pundits and hockey fans guessing. But if the league decides to take part, I believe it’ll be due to the PA, IOC and IIHF making significant concessions to Bettman.