NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2021

The latest on Nikita Kucherov and Philipp Grubauer, Pierre McGuire accepts a front-office role with the Senators, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NBC SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov trolled critics of his club for spending over the salary cap this season. He posted a photo to his Instagram account wearing an “$18 million over the cap” t-shirt while lounging on a boat with the Stanley Cup and the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans and pundits suggest the Lightning cheated by employing a loophole allowing them to use long-term injury reserve to spend over the cap. However, The Hockey News pointed out the Lightning proposed a vote following the 2015 Stanley Cup to end that loophole. During that year, the Blackhawks used it to spend over the cap by $5 million to bolster their roster for the playoffs. No other team joined their cause. 

THE DENVER POST: Goaltender Philipp Grubauer’s first choice is to remain with the Colorado Avalanche. The Vezina Trophy finalist is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28 but he hopes to sign a new contract before then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The writer of that piece wondered if it would be a good thing for the Avs to bring back Grubauer, pointing to his struggles during their second-round series meltdown against the Vegas Golden Knights. If there are no better options via this summer’s trade or free-agent markets (and there aren’t), they’re better off sticking with him.

OTTAWA SUN: Pierre McGuire is joining the Senators as their Senior Vice-President of Player Development. McGuire worked as an assistant coach for the Senators in 1995-96 and was a scout and assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1990-1992) and a coach and assistant general manager with the Hartford Whalers from 1992 to 1994. He’s been an NHL broadcaster since 1997.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGuire is more familiar to NHL fans for his often excitable in-game analysis for NBC Sports since 2006. He has a deep knowledge of players that few can match, but he hasn’t held an NHL front-office job in over a quarter-century.

It’s an interesting move by the Senators. We’ll have to wait and see what effect his hiring has upon the club’s ongoing rebuild.

NHL.COM: U.S. National Team Development Plan defenseman Luke Hughes could become the third member of his family to be a first-round pick in the NHL Draft. He’s the younger brother of New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (first-overall, 2019) and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (seventh overall, 2018). NHL’s Central Scouting ranks him fourth overall among North American skaters. It would be the first time an American family would have three sons chosen in the first round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a chance Luke could join one of his brothers. The Devils have the fourth-overall pick while the Canucks have the ninth-overall selection.

THE ATHLETIC: On the 20th anniversary of the Washington Capitals acquiring Jaromir Jagr (July 11, 2001), Tarik El-Bashir looks back on the trade and its effect upon the Capitals during Jagr’s tenure in Washington.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 9, 2021

The latest on Nikita Kucherov and Brendan Gallagher, the 2021 draft order is complete, the Leafs sign Travis Dermott, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: cited The Athletic’s Joe Smith reporting Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov played through the 2021 Stanley Cup Final with a fractured rib that required multiple injections. He still managed to put up five points in the five-game series against the Montreal Canadiens.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images)

Kucherov had originally denied playing hurt after taking a cross-check from New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield in Game 6 of their semifinal series. He left that game but returned to play in Game 7.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov did seem off his game somewhat during the Cup Final. He tallied 27 points through the first three rounds.

CTV MONTREAL: Hours after losing in the Stanley Cup Final, Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher discovered he’d been robbed after returning to his home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At least Gallagher was able to make light of the incident in a Tik Tok video. Still, that incident was insult to injury.

DAILY FACEOFF: According to numbers released by Sportsnet, this year’s Stanley Cup Final was the most-watched in the company’s history since taking over the NHL’s national broadcasting rights in 2014-15. Over 70 percent of Canadian viewers tuned in to that series.

NHL.COM: The order for the 2021 NHL Draft has been finalized. The Canadiens hold the 30th overall pick and the Lightning the 31st pick. The first round is scheduled for Friday, July 23, and rounds 2-7 on Saturday, July 24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reason there are 31 picks in the first round instead of 32 is that the Arizona Coyotes forfeited their pick as punishment for violating last year’s draft combine rules.

TORONTO STAR: The Toronto Maple Leafs signed defenseman Travis Dermott to a two-year, $3 million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dermott may be under contract with the Leafs but he could end up with the Seattle Kraken if left unprotected in the July 21 expansion draft. Perhaps general manager Kyle Dubas swung a side deal with the Kraken to ensure they select someone else. Teams must submit their protection lists to the league by 5 pm EST on July 17.

THE ATHLETIC’S Scott Powers reports the Chicago Blackhawks don’t intend to buy out any players. The buyout period began at 11 pm EST last night and runs to July 27.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: The Florida Panthers are the first NHL team, and perhaps the first U.S. Major sports team, to establish an opportunity for college athletes to align with them as part of recent rules changes allowing those athletes to profit off their name and celebrity.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 8, 2021

The Tampa Bay Lightning repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, Andrei Vasilevskiy wins the Conn Smythe Trophy, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup champions for the second straight year following a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of the Final, winning the series four games to one.

Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2021 Stanley Cup Champions (NHL.com).

Ross Colton scored the game’s only goal while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 22-save shutout. Vasilevskiy was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 29 saves.

THE SPORTING NEWS: Lightning winger Pat Maroon became just the fourth player in NHL history to win three straight Stanley Cups with two different teams. Maroon won his first with the St. Louis Blues in 2019 before joining the Lightning as a free agent.

SPORTSNET: Lightning winger Alex Killorn revealed he suffered a fractured fibula during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. He underwent surgery last week to have a rod inserted in his leg and hoped to be ready to play in Game 6 or 7 if the series went that far.

THE SCORE: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov ripped Montreal fans for the wild celebration of their club’s victory in Game 4 during his post-game press conference. “I didn’t want to go back to Montreal, but they acted, the fans in Montreal, come on. They acted like they won the Stanley Cup last game. You kidding me? Their final was last series.”

Appearing shirtless and chugging a beer, Kucherov also tore into Vezina Trophy voters for selecting Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury over Vasilevskiy. “I was telling him every day, ‘Vasy, you’re MVP. You’re the best player.’ And then they gave it to whatever the guy in Vegas, the Vezina. And then last year, they gave (the) Vezina to somebody else. No. 1 bullshit!”

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Montreal goalie Carey Price blamed himself for his club’s loss in the Stanley Cup Final. “At the end of the day I just don’t think I played well enough at the start of the series,” he said during a post-game press conference.

Seated next to Price, Canadiens captain Shea Weber disagreed. “I don’t think that’s the case at all”, said Weber. “To be honest, I think that we weren’t good enough in front of Carey.” He also praised the Lightning. “Give them credit, they’re a heck of a team. They’re here for a reason and they were better than us in the end.”

Habs coach Dominique Ducharme revealed Weber played with a thumb injury. He also said Jeff Petry had an injured finger, Tyler Toffoli suffered a groin injury while Brendan Gallagher had a groin injury “and more.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Lightning on becoming the third team to win consecutive Cups since the Pittsburgh Penguins (2016, 2017) and the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998) within the last 25 years. They were unquestionably the best team in this series and throughout this year’s postseason.

Changes will be coming to the Lightning this summer as salary-cap constraints and the expansion draft could cost them two or three players. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.

This was also a heck of a run for the underdog Canadiens, overcoming the odds and defying the critics by upsetting three heavily-favored opponents to reach the Final. Whether they can build on this going forward will in part depend on whatever moves they make in the offseason.

NBC SPORTS: This year’s Stanley Cup Final marked the end of a 16-year affiliation between NBC Sports and the NHL. The league recently signed new broadcasting deals with ESPN and Turner Sports starting next season.

CALGARY SUN: Plans for a new arena in Calgary are running as much as $60 million over its $550 million budget.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Newell Brown has returned to the Anaheim Ducks for his third stint as an assistant coach with the team. He was an assistant in 1998-2000 and from 2005-2010. He spent the past four seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 29, 2021

The Lightning thump the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, expansion and NHL draft TV info announced, information on special events for 2021-22 revealed, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The Bolts broke the game open in the third period as Nikita Kucherov scored twice and set up Steven Stamkos for the fifth goal. Brayden Point had three assists on the night.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

It was a rough game for Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher. He skated away with a bloodied head after tangling with Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.

Canadiens winger Joel Armia took a private jet from Montreal to Tampa Bay to rejoin his teammates after emerging from COVID protocol on Monday. He had been held out of the lineup after entering the protocol on Sunday. His spot in the lineup for Game 1 was taken by Jake Evans, playing his first game since being sidelined by a concussion in Game 1 of the Habs second-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominating performance by Tampa Bay from start to finish. Despite the score being 2-1 after two periods, there was a sense that it was a matter of time before they blew the game open.

The Canadiens seemed tentative through much of this contest as they struggled to adjust to the Lightning’s game plan. This series will be over quickly if the Habs fail to find a solution.

Poor puck management proved costly for the Canadiens. The Lightning’s first three goals came from offensive-zone turnovers. Lightning coach Jon Cooper also used his home-ice advantage of having the last line change to good effect in keeping the Point line away from the Canadiens shutdown line.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defended the performance of the league’s officiating during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. “It seems every season, it’s a playoff ritual for me to address some aspect of the officiating,” said Bettman. “Let’s be clear. Our officials are not only the best hockey officials in the world, they’re the best officials in any sport.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an annual playoff ritual because there’s an obvious difference over how games are called during the regular season and how they’re called in the playoffs. The commissioner, however, seems unconcerned that this is a growing issue for fans and pundits.

ESPN2, NHL Network and Sportsnet will broadcast the NHL expansion draft on Wednesday, July 21 at 8 pm ET. The first round of the 2021 NHL Draft will be televised on ESPN 2, Sportsnet and SN NOW on Friday, July 23 at 8 pm ET.

The Vegas Golden Knights will host the 2022 NHL All-Star Game with the date to be determined. The 2022 NHL Winter Classic will be held on Jan. 1, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. The 2022 Stadium Series game will be held Feb. 26 , 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville between the Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning. The league also plans to stage a Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic game in March 2022.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens will host the 2022 NHL Draft.

THE SCORE: The NHL’s participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing remains “a work in progress,” according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly. He suggested the continued uncertainty over COVID-19 and the games being held halfway around the world doesn’t make it necessarily an ideal Games to elect to go to. NHL participation remains contingent on negotiations with the International Olympic Committee as per the CBA extension agreement with the NHLPA.

YARDBARKER: The NHL confirmed the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division as part of its realignment with the addition of the Seattle Kraken. The decision to move the Coyotes was made by the league board of governors in December 2018.

CBS BOSTON: Bruins star David Pastrnak and his family are mourning the heartbreaking death of their infant son on June 23. He was five days old.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Pastrnak and his family on their loss. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks have hired the law firm Jenner & Block to lead an “independent review” of sexual assault allegations against former video coach Bradley Aldrich and the Blackhawks’ internal handling of those allegations.

SPORTSNET: Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league only recently learned of the allegations, adding it will await the results of the independent investigation before deciding how to proceed.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Zdeno Chara was honored at a ceremony celebrating his home country of Slovakia’s 28th anniversary “for extraordinary merits in the field of sports and for extraordinary dissemination of the good name of the Slovak Republic abroad.”

NEW YORK POST: ESPN has hired Chris Chelios to join fellow Hockey Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier as part of the network’s top hockey studio team.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken announced the Charlotte Checkers will be their AHL affiliate starting in 2021-22.

TSN: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is moving forward with its induction ceremony for 2020-2021 on Nov. 15.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 28, 2021

Nikita Kucherov denies he was injured in the semifinals, Joel Armia in COVID protocol again, Jean-Gabriel Pageau faces surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov denied suffering an injury during Game 6 of the semifinal series against the New York Islanders. He left the game early following a hit by Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and didn’t return. He was back in the lineup for the Lightning’s series-clinching win in Game 7. “There was no injury, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said during yesterday’s media conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov left that game in obvious pain and didn’t return. Lightning coach Jon Cooper wasn’t sure if his leading scorer would return for Game 7. So yes, he suffered an injury, though it wasn’t serious enough to keep him out of the lineup for the final game of that series. He logged the fourth-most ice time among Lightning forwards in Game 7.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Joel Armia missed practice on Sunday and didn’t travel with the team to Tampa Bay after being placed in COVID-19 protocol. The club will release more details on Armia’s status today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armia was placed on the COVID protocol list back in March and missed eight games.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he was not aware of sexual assault allegations made during the 2010 playoffs by a former player during his tenure as the club’s director of pro personnel.

It came out recently,” said Bergevin. “There was a meeting that I’ve heard was done in Chicago. I was not part of any meeting and I was not part of any decision based on that. I was not aware of what was going on at the time. You can go on the record with that.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin was not among the Blackhawks senior front office personnel listed by TSN to have attended that meeting to address the allegations. A former Blackhawks marketing official recently said the alleged sexual assault of two players was an open secret among the staff within and outside the organization.

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple reports a league source claims New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau deal with multiple injuries during the semifinal series against Tampa Bay. One of them will likely require surgery.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders captain Anders Lee said he’s ahead of his initial recovery timeline and expects to join his teammates for the start of training camp in September. He underwent season-ending knee surgery in March.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

The Canadiens advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Seattle Kraken introduce Dave Hakstol as their first head coach, the latest on Nikita Kucherov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. Artturi Lehkonen’s overtime goal gave the Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 to win their best-of-seven series four games to two. Habs goalie Carey Price made 37 saves for the win.

Montreal Canadiens pose with Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in six games (NHL.com).

Montreal captain Shea Weber opened the scoring in the first period but Vegas winger Reilly Smith quickly tied it. The Canadiens regained the lead in the second on a Cole Caufield goal but Alec Martinez tallied the equalizer in the third period.

The Canadiens were presented with the Clarence Campbell Bowl, usually awarded to the winner of the Western Conference Final. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve won this award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Canadiens for once again defying the odds and the doubters with another series victory over a very talented opponent. They’ve reached this point thanks to Price’s goaltending, a superior penalty kill, and a strong five-man system based on solid defensive play and a speedy transition game. They’re playing very well and deserve to be where they are.

The Golden Knights’ failure to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year could bring about some roster changes in the offseason. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

The Canadiens now await the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is slated for Monday, June 28.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced Dave Hakstol as their first head coach in franchise history. The former coach of North Dakota in the NCAA, he’s was the bench boss of the Philadelphia Flyers for over three seasons. Hakstol spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hakstol was rarely mentioned in media speculation as a candidate for the Kraken coaching gig. As the Times observed, he did have connections with the Kraken front office. He worked with general manager Ron Francis during their tenure with Team Canada at the 2019 World Championships. Jason Botterill was the GM of that squad and now works as an assistant general manager with the Kraken.

NHL.COM: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s status for Game 7 against the Islanders remains unknown. He left early in Game 6 with an undisclosed injury following a cross-check from Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield and hitting Mathew Barzal as his shift was ending. He’s this postseason’s leading scorer with 27 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning played with Kucherov throughout the regular season so they shouldn’t have much difficulty adjusting without him. Still, the potential absence of their leading scorer could be a crucial factor tonight.

ESPN.COM: Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier will join ESPN as a studio analyst beginning next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if he’ll accept cold calls

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed Blake Lizotte to a one-year, $800K contract extension.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed center Rhett Gardner to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson will have a third interview with the Arizona Coyotes for their head-coaching position. More talks could also be in store with Ottawa 67s coach Andre Tourigny.

St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn and Providence Bruins coach Jay Leach are no longer in the running for the job.