NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 14, 2021
Check out the latest on Auston Matthews, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Ryan Kesler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews explained why he waited until mid-August to undergo surgery for a nagging wrist injury. He said he wanted to see if it would heal following a period of rest. After ramping up his on-ice training, it still didn’t feel right and the decision to undergo the procedure was made following consultation with specialists and the Leafs’ medical staff.
“It’s nothing serious. So I’m happy we got it done,” said Matthews. The 2021 Richard Trophy Winner indicated he’s not worried about it and anticipates being fully recovered for the opening night of the season next month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Matthews won the goal-scoring crown while plagued by that injury during the 2020-21 campaign. He could be on pace for another Richard Trophy this season.
Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois admitted keeping quiet about his reasons for requesting a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets opened the door for false rumors last season. He still believes maintaining his silence on the matter was the mature thing to do. “Maybe one day, when I retire, maybe I’ll write a book,” he said.
Dubois also acknowledged he never felt comfortable last season because of the mental and physical roller coaster from the trade and subsequent injuries. He’s looking forward to turning the page and believes the adversity will help him in the long run.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is entitled to this privacy but the lack of details over why he wanted out of Columbus was going to generate conjecture from fans and pundits. I anticipate he’ll be motivated for a strong bounce-back performance this season.
NHL.COM: Ryan Kesler acknowledged he’ll never play in the NHL again as he’s still recovering from resurfacing surgery on his left hip in February. He also underwent a similar procedure on his right hip in 2019. The 37-year-old center also admitted he was in so much pain during his final two NHL seasons that he hated playing the game.
Kesler and his family have moved back to Michigan. He was recently named a volunteer assistant coach with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kesler is entering the final year of his contract with the Anaheim Ducks. His last active NHL season was 2018-19 and he’s been on long-term injury reserve since then.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets have parted ways with assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre after he opted not to get a COVID-19 vaccine and will not be able to coach as a result. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen explained the NHL’s strict COVID-19 protocols are most stringent on those with direct access to the players. Lefebvre has been replaced by Steve McCarthy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicates Kekalainen declined to reveal Lefebvre’s reason for not getting vaccinated. In a statement, he said the team respects Lefebvre’s decision as a personal one.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Colorado Eagles assistant coach Brett Clark has departed his job after he also declined to get vaccinated. The Eagles are the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL’s COVID protocols also extend to its AHL affiliates.
NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Noah Gregor to a one-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a two-way deal worth $750K at the NHL level.
TSN: An American advocacy group is calling upon the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USPOC) to suspend Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman from his role as GM of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team. Bowman faces allegations of covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players by their former video coach.
NHL ALUMNI: announced the passing of former NHL right wing Jack “Smokey” Egers on Sep. 10 at age 72. Egers spent seven seasons with the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals from 1969-70 to 1975-76, tallying 64 goals and 133 points in 284 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following his playing career, Egers moved back to Kitchener, Ontario, and became a firefighter, rising to the rank of captain. My condolences to his family, friends, former teammates and co-workers.