NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 16, 2021

The Lightning tie their semifinal series with the Islanders, Oskar Lindblom win the Masterton Trophy, plus the latest on Jeff Petry, Taylor Hall and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov collected three assists as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2 to tie their semifinal series at a game apiece. Brayden Point tallied his playoff-leading 10th goal and Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson replied for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov was briefly replaced by Ilya Sorokin in the Isles net after being shaken up in a collision with Point but returned to finish the final two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a rough game culminating in a scrum at the end of the third period that saw Anthony Cirelli head directly to the Lightning bench following an altercation with Isles forward Travis Zajac. Bolts coach Jon Cooper said Cirelli should be okay.

The officiating was terrible in this contest. The Isles scored a power-play goal in the first period after Brayden Point was tagged for goaltender interference after being pushed into Varlamov by Isles blueliner Adam Pelech. The Lightning scored their second goal with seven men on the ice that somehow went unnoticed by the officials.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom is this year’s winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance. He overcame a rare form of bone cancer last year to play 50 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Lindblom, who was declared cancer-free during a scan in March. Here’s hoping he has a long, productive and happy life on and off the ice.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry will be a game-day decision for Game 2 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Petry is recovering from a hand injury suffered in the previous series against the Winnipeg Jets. Center Jake Evans (concussion) and defenseman Jon Merrill (undisclosed) are also game-day decisions for the Habs.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The province of Quebec will allow up to 3,500 fans at the Bell Centre for the Canadiens upcoming home games against the Golden Knights. The same ruling also applied to venues hosting shows and other sporting events as pandemic restrictions continue to ease in the province.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney indicated there is mutual interest with Taylor Hall regarding a new contract. The 29-year-old winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall proved to be a good fit with the Bruins following his acquisition from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. It’s believed the winger is interested in term over dollars.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Joel Hanley underwent core-muscle surgery on Tuesday. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for the 2021-22 season.

TSN: Forward Linus Wallmark has signed with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow. Wallmark split this season between the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks added former Calgary Flames bench boss Geoff Ward to their coaching staff.

CBS SPORTS: Drew Shore announced his retirement yesterday. The center played 98 NHL games with the Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Carolina Hurricanes from 2012-13 to 2020-21.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Shore in his future endeavors.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets arena is changing its name from Bell MTS Place to the Canada Life Centre.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2020

Updates on negotiations for the 2020-21 season, two people arrested for stealing Wayne Gretzky memorabilia, Mark Messier loses money on a cannabis investment deal, the latest on Oskar Lindblom and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports issues such as roster size and taxi squads are slowing down negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA aimed at starting the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13. Frank Seravalli said the effect on the salary cap of transferring a player between the roster and the taxi squad is also part of the discussion. At this point, it would be handled similar to the rules regarding a demotion to the AHL.

Pierre LeBrun points out teams are at the mercy of local health restrictions, especially in Canada. As of Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators each have over 30 players that have returned, while the Winnipeg Jets have nine, the Montreal Canadiens under 10, the Edmonton Oilers have 12 and the Calgary Flames 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those health restrictions vary from city to city and province to province. It’s affecting quarantine rules and use of training facilities, which could explain why the Jets and Canadiens have a low number of players in their respective cities.

Dreger reports the league is looking into allowing a limited number of fans to attend games in select markets depending on the restrictions of each city in each state. Seravalli points out that will be only if the league can open in all 31 of its cities. That remains in doubt as some teams, like the San Jose Sharks, are planning to open training camp in Arizona because of restrictions in their own market.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports sources are saying the concept of hub cities is no longer on the drawing board. He said each team will play their regular-season home games in their own buildings with travel limited only to games within a team’s division.

Because of the new COVID-19 vaccines, the NHL feels confident it can stage a regular season in which teams travel from city to city despite the strict protocols. The league remains adamant it will not attempt to jump the queue to obtain vaccinations ahead of others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This NH season is going to open but the projected Jan. 13 start date could change. A vote approving the format for ’20-’21 needs a vote of approval by the league board of governors and the NHLPA’s 31-member executive. It’s required by the end of this week to meet the timeline for a Jan. 13 start. That date could be pushed into late January if more time is required to work out the details.

SPORTSNET: Two people were arrested by Brantford, Ontario police after Wayne Gretzky memorabilia was stolen from his father’s home. A three-month investigation involving searches of homes in Ontario and Alberta by police (including the RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police) recovered several items with an estimated combined value of over $500K USD. The investigation is ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walter Gretzky is the world’s most famous hockey dad and among the kindest people in hockey. Shame on those people for stealing from him.

YAHOO SPORTS: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier is suing the CEO of an Alberta cannabis company after he allegedly lost his $500K investment. Messier claimed the company also used his celebrity to raise $30 million in funding.

THE SCORE: Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom is cancer-free just over a year after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. He finished his treatments on July 2 and suited up with the Flyers in the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Lindblom enjoys a long, cancer-free life.

TSN: cites The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Minnesota Wild are close to signing free-agent goaltender Andrew Hammond. He speculates this could mean Wild backup Alex Stalock could be hurt entering training camp. Stalock reportedly hasn’t been on the ice.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Former San Jose Sharks forward Melker Karlsson has signed with Swedish club Skelleftea AIK for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication if Karlsson has an out-clause if he signs with an NHL club. The report indicating it’s for the remainder of the season suggests he didn’t get any NHL offers to his liking. The flattened salary cap for this season could be a factor, which doesn’t bode well for comparable players still available in the UFA market.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have promoted Ryan Miller (no, not the NHL goaltender) as their new assistant general manager.

WHL.COM: The Western Hockey League has delayed the start of its 2020-21 season because of public health restrictions across Western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest. The board of governors will meet in January to discuss possible start dates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the development of WHL players hoping to be selected in the 2021 NHL Draft.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, recaps of Wednesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin,  Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Micheal Ferland, and more.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jeff Petry scored his second game-winning goal as the Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3, taking a 2-1 lead in their qualifying-round series. Habs captain Shea Weber led the way with a goal and two assists.

 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens seemed done like dinner midway through the second period. They’re now poised to eliminate the Penguins in Game 4 on Friday. And speaking of potential upsets…

The Chicago Blackhawks got two unanswered third-period goals by Matthew Highmore and Jonathan Toews to nip the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and take a 2-1 lead in their qualifier. Toews finished the game with two goals while teammate Corey Crawford made 25 saves to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to record his 50th career playoff win. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another for the Oilers. Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson was unfit to play while Oilers winger Tyler Ennis left the game in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bounces went the Blackhawks’ way as Highmore’s goal was a deflection from a point shot while Toews’ deflected shot bounced in off an Oilers’ defenseman. They’re now poised to eliminate the Oilers if they win Game 4 on Friday.

The Boston Bruins won’t be the top seed in the 2020 playoffs after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round-robin play. Tyler Johnson tallied the winning goal late in the third period. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 32 saves in his return to action after being unfit to play in their first round-robin game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first time in NHL history the season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner won’t be the top seed in the playoffs. The Bruins are 0-2 in round-robin play. While they are guaranteed a playoff spot, they risk drawing a tougher first-round opponent the lower they sink in the round-robin seedings.

The Florida Panthers avoided elimination by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Third-period goals by Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle broke a 1-1 tie while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the win. A rare penalty by Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov for playing the puck beyond the trapezoid behind his net led to Hoffman’s power-play goal. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Panthers’ first postseason victory since the 2016 playoffs. It certainly came at the right time. They also shook up their lineup yesterday, scratching Mike Matheson and Frank Vatrano after their disappointing performances in the first two games.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Conor Garland, Taylor Hall, and Carl Soderberg lifted the Arizona Coyotes over the Nashville Predators 4-1. The Coyotes hold a 2-1 series lead. Darcy Kuemper enjoyed a bounce-back effort in this contest with a 39-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes weathered the first-period onslaught from the Predators and opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. They finally got some productions from Hall and Garland, who’d been held goalless in the first two games.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz kicked out 27 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0 in round-robin action. Cale Makar tallied the game-winner while Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were without starting goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman John Klingberg in this game. Both were declared unfit to play. Under league protocols, no reason was given for their absence, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s COVID-related.

HEADLINES TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin won’t be available for the remainder of his club’s qualifying-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was injured in Game 2 and taken to hospital with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Muzzin was released yesterday and returned to the Leafs hotel within the safety zone and will remain in quarantine until cleared. Martin Marincin will replace him in the lineup for today’s match with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois won’t face supplemental discipline for the hit that sent Muzzin to hospital after colliding awkwardly with Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstand.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets aren’t ruling out Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for Game 4 of their qualifier with the Calgary Flames later today. Both players have been sidelined since Game 1. The Flames hold a 2-1 series lead and could wrap it up with a win today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets need some help following a dispiriting loss in Game 3. They also need Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor to start cashing in or this series will be over later tonight.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is out of action and has returned to his home in Brandon, Manitoba. He’s been declared “unfit to play”, raising speculation it’s tied to the concussion symptoms that sidelined him for most of this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Lars Eller returned to Washington to be with his wife as she gives birth to their second child. He’ll rejoin his teammates following a period of quarantine and testing in the first round of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: A report from a Swedish media outlet indicates winger Oskar Lindblom will be traveling to the Toronto bubble to join his Philadephia Flyers teammates. He missed the bulk of this season battling a rare form of bone cancer and finished his treatment on July 2. He could return to action in September if the Flyers are still in the playoffs by then.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl has resumed skating for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in January.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has re-signed a one-year contract with Finland’s Karpat. It’s believed the deal contains an out-clause should Puljujarvi return to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports suggest the relationship between Puljujarvi and the Oilers has improved after he spent last season in Finland. With the NHL tentatively planning a full 82-game schedule in December, it makes sense for him to get in some meaningful playing time in Finland before NHL camps open in November.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The general managers of the seven non-playoff teams have submitted a proposal to the league allowing their clubs a two-week mini-camp before training camp for all clubs open in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a reasonable proposal. Those teams haven’t played since the regular season was derailed in mid-March and they’re now amid an unusually long off-season.  










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 27, 2020

Updates on John Chayka’s messy departure from the Coyotes, 24 teams travel to hub cities for the upcoming playoff tournament, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CHAYKA TERMINATES CONTRACT WITH COYOTES

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes yesterday released a blunt statement indicating John Chayka terminated his contract as their general manager. “Chayka has chosen to quit on a strong and competitive team, a dedicated staff, and the Arizona Coyotes fans, the greatest fans in the NHL,” the statement read. Assistant GM Steve Sullivan is taking over the role on an interim basis.

Former Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka (NHL.com)

Chayka countered with his own statement, indicating how much he enjoyed his four years in the role, his work in building the club into a playoff contender, how much he loved the players, coaches, staff, and fans, and how he wished he could be with the club in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “Sadly, the situation created by ownership made that an impossibility”.

The relationship between Chayka and Coyotes ownership recently soured over a possible job opportunity. The club originally gave Chayka approval to explore the opportunity but then changed its mind.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports multiple sources are claiming Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo will ask NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to adjudicate the split between the club and Chayka. Friedman heard rumors linking Chayka to the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. The job offer was reportedly for a much larger role than a general manager position.

TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted sources told him the Sabres weren’t the mystery team supposedly expressing interest in Chayka.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think anyone’s surprised this has quickly deteriorated into a “they said-he said” situation following several days of speculation over Chayka’s status with the Coyotes. What’s clear is things fell apart quickly. This is yet another chapter in the years of uncertainty plaguing the Coyotes, providing fodder for critics to cast doubt over the club’s long-term stability in their current market.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

NHL.COM: The league yesterday released the Phase 4 player rosters for the 24 teams participating in the playoff tournament that opens this Saturday. Each club was limited to 31 players it could bring into the Secure Zones in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Concerns over a potential spike in positive COVID-19 cases during the recent two-week training camp period of Phase 3 proved unfounded. That’s a credit to the league, the teams, and the players for maintaining the strict health and social-distancing guidelines. A COVID outbreak could occur in one of those secure zones during Phase 4, but the teams will be better protected in those zones that they were in their home cities during Phase 3. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is remaining in Tampa Bay to deal with a personal matter. He’s expected to join his teammates in Toronto on Friday.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Lightning, captain Steven Stamkos remains day-to-day with an injury suffered during Phase 2 training. He’ll miss the exhibition game Wednesday against the Florida Panthers but is expected to suit up when the post-season begins.

CBS SPORTS: Oskar Lindblom was included in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 31-team roster and traveled to Toronto with his teammates. Lindblom recently completed treatment for a rare form of bone cancer. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to play when the playoff tournament begins Saturday.

THE SCORE: Pictures have emerged showing the inside of the secure zones for NHL players in Edmonton and Toronto.

HAWERCHUK ILL, SHACK PASSES AWAY

TSN: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Dale Hawerchuk is battling a recurrence of his stomach cancer. He’s completed chemotherapy in April.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hawerchuk for a speedy recovery.

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL forward Eddie Shack passed away Saturday at 83 following a battle with throat cancer. Nicknamed “Eddie the Entertainer”, the popular Shack spent 17 seasons with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, and Pittsburgh Penguins from 1958-59 through 1974-75. He won four Stanley Cups with the Leafs in the 1960s. In 1,047 games, Shack tallied 239 goals, 465 points, and 1,431 PIMs. He went on to become a successful businessman and NHL Alumni participant following his career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shack was a character but also a very effective and tough depth player. I met him briefly as a kid in the 1970s when he was doing promotional work for The Pop Shoppe and again at an NHL alumni game in Calgary in 1995. He was funny and kind to everyone, taking time to chat and sign autographs. My condolences to his family, friends, and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 23, 2020

Check out the latest on David Pastrnak, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely doesn’t expect wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the ice before the club flies to Toronto on Sunday for the upcoming playoff tournament under Phase 4 of the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Pastrnak’s been quarantined after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Kase, meanwhile, has been deemed unfit to play with no explanation as per league health protocols.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (Photo via NHL Images).

Both players were seen together socially in Boston’s North End and skating together locally before their disappearance from Bruins’ training camp. Neely said he wished both players had returned to Boston from the Czech Republic a little earlier but noted the club had no control over that. The previous phase of the return-to-play plan didn’t require players to be in their NHL cities until the days leading up to the July 13 start of Phase 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak and Kase are expected to travel with their teammates to Toronto for Phase 4. Fortunately for the Bruins, both players will have roughly two weeks to get back into game shape. That because they’re already assured of a playoff berth and will be taking part in the round-robin seeding round during the qualifying round.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins fans can breathe a little easier. Captain Sidney Crosby returned to practice yesterday for the first time since leaving the ice during a scrimmage on Saturday. He skated on his own but didn’t take part in team practice. As per league protocols, coach Mike Sullivan did not explain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby’s absence was not COVID-related. He appears to be nursing what could be a minor injury.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Jonathan Toews was reportedly one of two NHLPA player reps to vote against the return-to-play plan and CBA extension. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Blackhawks captain was among the most vocal of the player reps, asking relevant questions and challenging whether it was safe enough to return to play. Carolina Hurricanes’ Jordan Martinook was the other PA rep to vote against it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews’ questioning shouldn’t be surprising. He also took an active interest in CBA negotiations during the 2012-13 lockout. By the sound of things, his position was well-intentioned. He now has more pressing concerns as he was listed as “unable to participate” since leaving practice on Monday.

CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty has missed his club’s last three practices. Coach Pete DeBoer indicated Pacioretty was dealing with a minor issue and could resume skating soon.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar missed his third straight practice since leaving the ice on Saturday. Coach Jared Bednar provided no update as per league protocols.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Oskar Lindblom’s comeback from a rare bone cancer continued yesterday as the Flyers re-signed him to a three-year, $9-million contract. The annual average value is $3 million. Management also isn’t ruling anything out if the winger travels to Toronto with his teammates for the upcoming playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could be the feel-good story of the postseason if Lindblom returns to action during the upcoming tournament. The Flyers will leave that decision up to him.

SPORTSNET: Andreas Johnsson will be joining his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates inside the team bubble for Phase 4. He intends to continue his recovery from knee surgery with the team and hopes to return to the lineup during the playoffs if the Leafs get that far.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The NHL’s Seattle expansion franchise is expected to reveal their team name later today. A live-streamed news conference is slated for 9 AM PT today for a “significant” event. The club teased the event on Twitter yesterday.

WINGING IT IN MOTOWN: The Detroit Red Wings are open to loaning winger Filip Zadina to the Czech League’s HC Ocelari. The Wings could be waiting until December at the earliest for the start of the next NHL season. Loaning out Zadina would allow the youngster to get in some meaningful gameplay before then.

NEW YORK POST: Swiss investment bank UBS has secured the naming rights for the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park. The arena is expected to be ready for the 2021-22 season.

IIHF.COM: Former Soviet defenseman Alexander Gusev passed away at age 73. Gusev was part of two World Championship clubs in 1973 and 1974, won gold at the 1976 Winter Olympics, and was part of two Summit Series with Canadian NHL stars in 1972 and WHA stars in 1974.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Gusev’s family, friends, and former teammates.










2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists