Laviolette Latest To Find A Ride On NHL Coaching Carousel
The Islanders stave off elimination, the Capitals hire Peter Laviolette as their new head coach, the Wild re-sign Jonas Brodin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders live to play another day after edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in double overtime during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Jordan Eberle tallied the game-winner, forcing a sixth game on Thursday. The Lightning hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves for the win. Ryan Pulock opened the scoring in the first period but Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman tied it with his eighth goal of the postseason. Lightning center Brayden Point missed the game with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled the play for most of this game but the Isles hung in there for the win. They blew a couple of opportunities to score the go-ahead goal during regulation, including Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s lame attempt to pass on a two-on-one that was broken up by Zach Bogosian and a long opportunity on a delayed penalty where they failed to find the back of the net with six attackers. Nevertheless, they prevailed and have another chance to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive on Thursday.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday named Peter Laviolette as their new head coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals general manager Brian McLellan sought an experienced no-nonsense bench boss and he’s got one in Laviolette. He has 18 seasons of NHL experience with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and guided the Flyers and Predators to the Stanley Cup Final.
There was a sense the Capitals were lackadaisical this season, especially during the playoffs. They won’t get away with that under Laviolette.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday re-signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodin was mentioned as a possible trade candidate this season. This signing indicates GM Bill Guerin sees him as a key part of the Wild’s roster. Brodin also has a full no-movement clause in the first four years of his new contract, which extends the one he has for 2020-21.
This signing sparked speculation over Matt Dumba’s future with the Wild. You can read more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.
RDS.CA: The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly close to re-signing recently-acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson. The deal could be between three-to-five years, with a cap hit of $3.5 million or $4 million, depending on the duration.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of Edmundson has generated rumors suggesting the Canadiens could move a left-side defenseman for a scoring forward. Check out the details in today’s Rumor Mill.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed goaltender Adin Hill to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes insider Craig Morgan speculates Hill will become the leading candidate as the club’s backup next season if they trade Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.
Speaking of the Coyotes, the leading candidate for their vacant general manager position is St. Louis Blues assistant GM Bill Armstrong.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said interim head coach Rick Bowness has earned the right to return as head coach. Nill and Bowness have an agreement to discuss the matter following the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the job is Bowness’ if he wants it.
TSN: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with assistant coach Mike Kitchen for allegedly kicking a player on the bench during a game this season.
CALGARY SUN: Noted NHL author Kirstie McLellan Day is taking Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald to court after he withdrew his approval of a biography at the last minute. She’s seeking a court order to have the book published.
The Stars, Islanders, and Golden Knights are on the verge of advancing to the Conference Finals. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars took a 3-1 series lead over the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-4 victory in Game 5 of their second-round series. Goals by Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov within 32 seconds in the third period opened a 5-2 lead for the Stars, who held off a late surge by the Avs. Radek Faksa had a goal and two assists for the Stars while Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin scored twice. Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz was lifted in the third after giving up five goals on 26 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars can wrap this up with a win in Game 5 later tonight. They won this game in the first period, jumping to a 3-0 lead and out-shooting Colorado 10-5. The Avs were forced to play catch-up for the remainder of the game. While they dominated most of the next two periods and narrowed the Dallas lead to 3-2 entering the third, those two quick goals by Hintz and Gurianov were the game-breakers.
Brock Nelson scored twice as the New York Islanders held on for a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 and a 3-1 series lead. Jean-Gabriel Pageau broke a 1-1 tie in the third period followed by Nelson’s second goal which proved to be the game-winner. Isles goalie Thomas Greiss made 36 saves for his first playoff win since 2016.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, most of the Flyers’ leading scorers struggled to find the back of the net. Jakub Voracek’s four goals all came in the previous series against Montreal. Two of Kevin Hayes’ three playoff goals came in Game 2 against the Isles. Couturier’s two goals have come in this series, but Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, and James van Riemsdyk still seek their first goals of this postseason.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves in just his third start of this postseason to backstop the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks and a 3-1 series lead. The Golden Knights overcame a 3-2 deficit with three unanswered third-period goals by Nate Schmidt, Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Canucks. They played well through two periods but defensive breakdowns in the third proved costly against the Golden Knights, who maintained their poise despite blowing 1-0 and 2-1 leads.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Boston Bruins winger Nick Ritchie won’t receive supplemental discipline for boarding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde in Game 4 of their second-round series on Saturday. Ritchie received a five-minute major for the hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if Ritchie plays tonight. His undisciplined play in Game 4 didn’t help the Bruins.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins named Evgeni Malkin as their MVP for 2019-20.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports former NHL coach Peter Laviolette is “very much a contender” for the Washington Capitals’ vacant head-coach position.
Training camps slated to open on July 10, CBA updates, and the latest on Patrick Kane, David Pastrnak, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL TRAINING CAMP TO OPEN JULY 10
NHL.COM: The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced yesterday Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan will see training camps open on July 10. Both parties agree this will take place provided medical and safety conditions allow, and the two sides reach an agreement on resuming play (Phase 4).
Earlier this week, the league and PA implemented Phase 2, allowing small-group workouts at team facilities voluntarily.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks listed the outstanding issues that must be addressed before Phase 4 (24-team playoff tournament) begins. They include travel and quarantine restrictions when crossing the Canada-United States border, determining the location of two hub cities to stage the tournament, various health and safety issues, as well as escrow and salary cap issues.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun cautions the start date for Phase 3 could change if negotiations drag between the league and the PA. They’re also hoping for the Phase 4 start date to be around August 1.
Darren Dreger reports Las Vegas is considered a front-runner as one of the two hub cities. Toronto could have the inside track among the three Canadian cities because of its experience hosting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Vancouver and Edmonton also made pitches to be a host city.
SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports those three Canadian cities could learn by today if the Canadian government’s quarantine restrictions will be loosened for NHL teams.
If those restrictions aren’t lifted entirely, they could consider extending the quarantine area to include the team employee’s home and arena, thus allowing them to practice while serving out their 14-day quarantine period.
If a Canadian city is chosen as a hub, teams from the United States participating in the tournament could quarantine inside an “NHL bubble” created between the team hotel, practice arena, and the NHL arena.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks star Patrick Kane wants the league to take a cautious approach toward resuming play.
“The NHL is putting out these dates and whatnot, and as players, we’re taking a step back and saying, ‘Why are these dates being put out when we haven’t really agreed to anything yet?’ ” Kane said. “We just want to be cautious.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The PA also agreed to those dates, but as the joint statement yesterday indicated, it’s based on whether medical and safety conditions are met and both sides have reached an agreement on resuming play.
This can still be derailed at any time by the pandemic. The players could also vote against it if they feel their health and safety cannot be assured.
Yesterday’s announcement of training camps opening on July 10 is a positive step, but significant hurdles remain between now and then.
NHL CBA UPDATES
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the two sides are believed discussing a four- or five-year CBA extension. A four-year one would push the CBA to the end of the 2025-26 season. Whatever news rules are agreed upon would be implemented right away.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports escrow and the salary cap are the key issues before a CBA extension can be reached before the playoff tournament begins in August.
NHL players could potentially face escrow deductions of 40 percent or more next season. The league and the PA are attempting to negotiate an escrow cap that would allow the players to make their payments over a longer period.
The two sides are also discussing keeping next season’s salary cap at a flat rate ($81.5 million). Without it, Brooks speculates the cap could drop by $10 million. That would produce chaos and instability around the league as teams shed salary, flooding the free-agent market and depressing salaries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A CBA extension would ensure labor peace for the next six years. It would be the silver lining to the dark cloud of COVID-19 hanging over the league right now.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SCORE: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak won the Golden Hockey Stick as the Czech Player of the Year for the fourth straight season, tying the record set by future Hall-of-Famer Jaromir Jagr.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports Peter Laviolette could be the front-runner for the role of New Jersey Devils head coach. Laviolette is among four candidates, including Devils interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports sources claim NBC Sports broadcaster Ed Olczyk was among those interviewed for the Devils GM position. When asked, Olczyk said he speaks to a lot of people in the NHL. Interim GM Tom Fitzgerald remains a candidate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are leaving Nasreddine and Fitzgerald twisting in the wind. Those two should be commended for how well they’re handling this situation.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan is expected to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery to participate in the playoff tournament in August.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights re-signed goaltender Oscar Dansk to a one-year, two-way contract extension worth $700K at the NHL level.
TSN: Kim Pegula will be staying on as president of the Buffalo Sabres.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Former San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels announced his retirement. Wingels spent 337 of his 448 career NHL games with the Sharks from 2010-11 to 2016-17, as well as stops with the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, and Boston Bruins from 2016-17 to 2017-18. He had 62 goals and 143 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wingels in his future endeavors.
Sabres captain Jack Eichel grows weary of constant losing, four regular-season awards are handed out, the latest updates on the league’s return-to-play format, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
EICHEL AND RISTOLAINEN TIRED OF LOSING IN BUFFALO.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen are growing weary of missing the playoffs. Eichel, a five-year NHL veteran who has yet to make a post-season appearance, said he’s “fed up with the losing”. Ristolainen, a seven-year veteran, said he’s never been part of a winning culture in Buffalo. Both players, however, praised first-year coach Ralph Krueger and his staff for the improvements the club made this season despite missing the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres have been mismanaged for years, and it’s taking a toll on Eichel and Ristolainen. While I don’t believe Eichel will demand a trade in this off-season, his patience probably isn’t limitless. He could decide his NHL future lies elsewhere if the Sabres fail to improve over the next couple of seasons.
Ristolainen, on the other hand, could be playing elsewhere whenever next season begins. I’ll have more on that in the Rumors section.
FOUR NHL AWARDS WINNERS ANNOUNCED.
NHL.COM: With the regular season over, the NHL released a list of four award winners. Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is the winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s points leader (110). Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak share the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy as the leading goalscorers (48 each).
Bruins goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak share the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals (174), while the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for the best overall record with 44 wins.
UPDATES ON NHL’S RETURN-TO-PLAY FORMAT
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the NHL told the NHL Players’ Association that Phase 3 of its return-to-play plan, which includes training camps, won’t begin before July 10. The league hopes to begin Phase 2, which includes small group workouts at team facilities, as early as next week.
TSN: Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s top health official, said proposals are being reviewed from sports leagues (including the NHL) to resume play, but the mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place for now. Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among 10 cities on the NHL’s shortlist of two host locations for its 24-team playoff tournament. Many NHL players are still in Europe and the United States.
Pierre LeBrun reports Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning suggested holding training camps in the United States because of Canada’s current border guidelines. Many players, such as Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and goalie Frederik Andersen, are working out in the US and won’t be in a big hurry to return to Canada and undergo a 14-day quarantine before they can resume training.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The United States deemed professional athletes and their training staff as essential workers, making it easier for players in Canada and Europe to travel into that country for training camps.
Darren Dreger reports the NHL and NHLPA are negotiating to push the June 1 deadline for signing entry-level players to July 1. There’s also a debate between the league and the PA over allowing players recently signed to entry-level contracts (such as Montreal’s Alexander Romanov) to take part in the playoff tournament.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: To no one’s surprise, the league is against it while the PA is for it.
Bob McKenzie reports Alexis Lafreniere, considered to be the top prospect in this year’s NHL draft, is considering all his options for next season. That could include perhaps playing in Europe if the NHL, AHL, or CHL 2020-21 seasons haven’t begun by this fall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If he does play in Europe this fall you can bet his contract will contain an out-clause enabling him to return to the NHL whenever the puck drops on the ’20-’21 season.
LeBrun reports the seven teams not eligible to participate in the 24-team playoff format can begin making trades with each other. He points out non-playoff clubs usually wait until closer to the draft to begin dealing, but if there’s a fit among those seven teams for whatever reason, they can go ahead.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on this later today in the Rumor section.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers rookie winger Kaapo Kakko might not be able to participate in the playoff tournament. Kakko is a type-1 diabetic and has a higher-than-normal risk of contracting COVID-19. Rangers president John Davidson said they’ll listen to their medical people to determine if Kakko will be able to play.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman reported collective bargaining talks between the league and the PA are expected to ramp up enough for the latter to form a negotiating committee. Ryan Miller and Ron Hainsey remain active from the 2012-13 version.
Costs for COVID-19 testing during the playoff tournament could cost as much as $3 million.
Friedman thinks there’s a decent chance the tournament could be re-seeded following the qualifying round instead of going to a bracket format.
The New Jersey Devils are believed to be considering at least four candidates for their head coaching job. Current interim coach Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette, and John Stevens, are believed to be in the running.
The Chicago Blackhawks could be making some cuts to the professional scouting department.
TSN: Player agent Mike Liut is advising any player who’ll listen to review their disability insurance before they return to the ice.
IN OTHER NEWS…
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights announced their new AHL affiliate will be named the Henderson Silver Knights.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect center Josh Norris, 20, was selected as the AHL’s rookie of the year for 2019-20.
Updates on Thomas Greiss, Andy Greene, Peter Laviolette, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss is offering food, toilet paper, and other items to people in need during this coronavirus pandemic.
NEWSDAY: Islanders defenseman Andy Greene expects to continue his NHL career next season. Whether it’s with the Isles, however, remains to be seen.
The 37-year-old Greene was acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 16. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.
NBC SPORTS: Peter Laviolette hopes to return to the NHL coaching ranks. With 637 wins, he’s only the fourth coach in league history to guide three different teams (Carolina, Philadelphia, Nashville) to the Stanley Cup Final. He was selected to coach Team USA at the 2020 World Championships, but that tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Laviolette’s record, he’ll return behind an NHL bench at some point within the next year or two.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are among the only four players remaining from the Jets’ 2011-12 roster. Dustin Byfuglien and Bryan Little are the other two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Judging by recent reports, that number will be down to three whenever next season opens. Byfuglien’s contract is expected to be terminated soon.
Saturday, April 4th was to be the last day of the NHL regular season…but we missed the final 24 days and 189 games…including 15 games on this Saturday…a season or non-season like no other.
— John Shannon (@JShannonhl) April 4, 2020
“Nobody gives a shit right now… Better to turn hockey rinks into makeshift hospitals or morgues.“ — Dr. Alan Drummond of the Canadian Association of Emergency Room Physicians on when the NHL & other leagues should resume play. pic.twitter.com/TVH3wjUTdt — Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) April 4, 2020