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 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.