NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 24, 2020

The latest on the return-to-play discussions, four Golden Knights test positive for COVID-19, the Bruins sign Jake DeBrusk and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch cited NHL insider Nick Kypreos saying there were no discussions over the weekend between the league and the NHL Players Association for the first time in weeks regarding the 2020-21 season.

 

The league remains focused on a Jan. 1 start but NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly suggested several times that date is flexible and could be pushed back a week or two.

Garrioch believes it’s been quiet of late because the two sides have likely retreated to their offices to come up with a plausible agreement acceptable to the owners. Senators owner Eugene Melnyk last week indicated not all the 31 owners are on board with the plan put forward because of the losses they’ll face for 2020-21. The players last week rejected two requests from the league for increased escrow and salary deferral rates.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reported “a prominent agent” said talks are currently at a standstill. Three other player agents wondered when is enough with the constant concessions the players have made since the 2004-05 lockout. One accused league commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners of using the pandemic to squeeze more out of the players. Another agent claims he knows of five or six owners seriously questioning if it makes sense to stage a season.

Murphy feels the longer negotiations drag on, the more NHL and AHL players could head overseas to play in Europe, particularly those on two-way contracts who finished last season in the AHL. He also cites a league source suggesting a Feb. 5 start date for the season remains an option.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports Bettman is dealing with a handful of disgruntled owners, with some believing they got a bad deal in the new collective bargaining agreement and a few telling the commissioner they’d prefer not to play if there are no fans because of operating losses.

According to a source, Bettman is “managing” those owners, telling them sitting out the season isn’t an option because of the damage to the league’s long-term health. However, he is trying to address their concerns, which include an infusion of cash to start the season, hence the league’s requests to the players last week.

Kaplan reports sources indicated the players remain willing to work with the league because it’s in everyone’s best interest to stage a season. If the league is trying to borrow money from the players, the PA could seek concessions such as increased health insurance for players in retirement. Kaplan also notes the NHL owners will be getting $650 million in expansion fees in 2021-22 plus a new U.S. Television deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This stalemate between the league and the PA could stretch on for weeks and put the 2020-21 season into jeopardy. But as long as Bettman and the players remain determined to return to play, the less likely the season will be canceled. There appears a genuine desire on both sides to get this done, though there’s no denying the league’s recent requests have stalled negotiations.

Barring a significant breakthrough by the end of this week, I think we can forget about the Jan. 1 start date. As Garrioch pointed out, Daly has previously suggested that start date was flexible. It could be anywhere between mid-January and mid-February, though the earlier the better if they hope to stage a meaningful schedule.

OTHER NOTABLE NHL HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Four Vegas Golden Knights players have tested positive for COVID-19. The club confirmed their status but declined to identify them. The four are in self-isolation and “recovering well.” The club is taking precautionary measures by closing their off-ice training facilities and player areas to players and staff through Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This serves as a reminder that the pandemic will still affect the players if the 2020-21 season takes place. Without playing in a quarantine bubble as they did during the 2020 playoffs, they risk exposure to the coronavirus even with increased testing and strict health and safety protocols.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins signed restricted free agent winger Jake DeBrusk to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $3.675 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk had the bad luck to complete an entry-level contract in the midst of a pandemic that adversely affected the NHL salary cap. While his agent had suggested his client was worth $6 million per season, there was no way he was going to get that much from the Bruins or from another club via an offer sheet under the current economic conditions.

It’s a good deal for the Bruins because they get DeBrusk under contract at a reasonable short-term deal that also leaves enough cap space for other moves. The young winger still gets a decent raise and a chance for a much better deal in two years times when he’ll have arbitration rights in a potentially better economic climate.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is leaving Finnish club Pori Assat and returning to Montreal in what’s considered a sign the club is preparing to stage its training camp soon. Kotkaniemi will begin a 14-day quarantine upon his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s not the only player skating in Europe coming back to North America. If more players follow suit it’ll signal the league and the PA are close to a return-to-play agreement.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks hired Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist. She’s the organization’s first-ever female development coach. They also hired former NHL player Erik Condra as a player development coach.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets hired Dave Lowry as an assistant coach. The father of Jets center Adam Lowry said he doesn’t expect any issues with the two working for the same team.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers hired Shane Churla as their director of amateur scouting. The former NHL player spent the past seven seasons with the Canadiens scouting staff. He also spent seven seasons as an amateur scout with the Dallas Stars and another five in the same role with the Arizona Coyotes.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2020

The NHL and NHLPA look ahead to the second phase of transition from the self-quarantine period, plus updates on the Hurricanes, Islanders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE LATEST ON THE POSSIBLE RESUMPTION OF THE NHL SEASON

NHL.COM: The league and the NHL Players Association released a statement indicating they haven’t made any decisions or set a timeline for a possible return to play scenario. However, they are looking ahead to Phase 2 to transitioning out of its current self-quarantine period.

The NHL and NHLPA have not established a timeline to return to action.

“The precise date of transition to Phase 2, during which Players might return to small group activities in NHL Club training facilities, remains undetermined. However, provided that conditions continue to trend favorably – and, subject to potential competitive concerns as between disparately situated markets – we believe we may be able to move to Phase 2 at some point in the mid-to-later portion of May. Specific guidelines governing Player and Hockey Staff activity would be provided at that time.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA are pumping the brakes on recent speculation suggesting they could resume the season in July. That option floated last week by league commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly, sparking the recent media chatter. Although they stressed nothing was set in stone, resuming the schedule in July appears to be their best-case scenario. 

Reopening the season still depends upon approval from state and provincial health officials in the cities proposed as hosts for NHL divisional games. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading health expert on the U.S. COVID-19 task force, is expressing caution over a possible return of pro sports in North America this season. “If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season,” said Fauci.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector reports the planning work by the NHL during this period will allow them to be ready out of the gates if they get approval to resume the schedule. A sticking point is trying to get games back on television without requiring players to be quarantined away from their families for weeks at a time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Family separation has emerged as a concern for several NHL players. Winnipeg Jets forward Adam Lowry is the latest to speak publicly about this issue. While Lowry is single and doesn’t have any children, he feels it would be unfair to expect married players to spend perhaps up to four months quarantined from their families.

Spector points out fulfilling local television contracts is an incentive for non-playoff NHL clubs to resume the season. If completing the regular season isn’t possible, a popular playoff scenario would see the top six teams in each division meeting in one city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski pointed out that scenario would mean the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks would be playoff clubs, while the New York Rangers (who have a better record) would not.

TORONTO SUN: Joe Warmington believes Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area would be the perfect hub as a neutral-site divisional host city. It has everything the league needs: “NHL and television-ready arenas, and plenty of accommodation for players and team staff.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto is rumored to be among the host city favorites, but that depends upon the approval of Ontario’s health minister.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran recently explored how escrow might help the NHL keep teams intact if the pandemic crashes league revenue, especially for next season. He doubts the players would accept rolling back salaries, while the owners probably wouldn’t go for a system that would accept an exemption to allow players to collect salary outside the cap. Lowering the cap and allowing compliance buyouts would gut rosters, especially those of playoff contenders.

McGran suggests leaving the salary cap at around $80 million and setting escrow at 40, 50, or even 70 percent, thus leaving rosters and contracts intact. Everyone takes a hit, but escrow can be reduced throughout the season as revenues come back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Higher escrow clawbacks could be among the options whenever the league and the PA discuss next season’s salary cap. It’ll be interesting to see how they address reduced revenue and its effects upon salary cap payrolls.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes could soon be cutting ties with the Charlotte Checkers as their AHL affiliate. It’s believed the Hurricanes could soon have a deal with the Chicago Wolves, while the Checkers could become the new affiliate of the Florida Panthers.

ESPN.COM: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise is getting close to revealing its name, team colors, and logo.

NHL.COM: “The new arenas for NHL Seattle and the New York Islanders remain on schedule for opening for the 2021-22 NHL season.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2020

The Red Wings and Hurricanes pull off upset victories, Sportsnet and NBC Sports make NHL history with all-female broadcast crews, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri carried the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-4 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force overtime and the shootout frame. Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and three assists. Brayden Point tallied twice for the Lightning (92 points), who sit six points back of the league-leading Boston Bruins. Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury, but Victor Hedman (lower body) missed the game and is listed as day-to-day.

Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha had a four-point performance in a 5-4 upset over the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images).

Carolina Hurricanes rookie Morgan Geekie scored twice in his NHL debut to help his club down the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2. Justin Williams also scored twice for the Hurricanes (76 points), who surged ahead of the New York Islanders into the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The slumping Penguins (84 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division, but they’ve dropped eight of their last 10 contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were playing better when their roster was depleted by injuries. They’re struggling despite a healthier lineup bolstered by recent additions made before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen turned in a 29-save shutout in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Robert Bortuzzo and Alex Pietrangelo were the goal scorers. Blues defenseman Justin Faulk missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist left the game with a suspected concussion after being elbowed in the head by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. In the subsequent scrum, Chicago forward Drake Caggiula left the game after injuring his wrist in a fight with the Blues’ Vince Dunn. The Blues (92 points) remain two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, kept pace with the Blues by nipping the San Jose Sharks 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog led the way with a goal and two assists each. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game after being struck in the face with the puck. He was placed in concussion protocol but could return to action on Wednesday.

The red-hot Vegas Golden Knights (84 points) defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 to regain first place in the Pacific Division. Third-period goals by Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault carried Vegas to victory after the Flames overcame a 3-1 deficit. The Flames (79 points) sit third in the Pacific.

An overtime goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was Fiala’s second goal of the game for the Wild (77 points), who moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell each had three points for the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala is blossoming into a star for the Wild this season. He’s their leading scorer with a career-high 54 points and is tied with Zach Parise and Joel Eriksson Ek for second in game-winning goals with four.

Elvis Merzlikins returned to the Columbus Blue Jackets net for the first time since Feb. 24 to backstop his club to a 2-1 victory over the slumping Vancouver Canucks. With 81 points, the Jackets moved into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot, while the Canucks (76 points) cling to the second Western wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are in trouble, winning just three of their last 10 contests. They definitely miss starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who’s been sidelined since late February with a knee injury.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Sportsnet and NBC Sports made NHL history yesterday with all-female broadcast crews calling the Golden Knights-Flames and the Blue-Blackhawks games.

NBC SPORTS: Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry on Saturday.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes’ playoff hopes took a hit as leading scorer Conor Garland is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets forward Adam Lowry is expected to return to action tonight after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: The Detroit Red Wings re-signed Alex Biega to a one-year, $875K contract.

SPORTSNET: The NHL has tentatively finalized April 9 as the date for the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2020

Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Jacob Markstrom, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored twice and set up another as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-3. Nathan MacKinnon also tallied twice for the Avs while Dylan Larkin had a three-point outing for Detroit. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is winless in his last 15 games (0-13-2).

Nazem Kadri’s three-point performance powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings (Photo via NHL Images)

A late goal by Noel Acciari lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle collected four points. Luke Kunin scored two goals for the Wild.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 19.

THE SCORE: In an upcoming Sportsnet documentary, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid reveals the knee injury he suffered at the end of last season was more serious than originally reported.

Doctors told McDavid he was facing surgery and a 10-month recovery period to repair a torn PCL ligament, a torn lining at the back of his knee, and a crack at the front of his tibia. He instead opted for a rigorous rehabilitation schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rehab obviously worked for McDavid. He hasn’t missed a game this season and is the NHL’s leading scorer, on pace for a career-high 127 points.

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks assistant general manager John Weisbrod said his club has started contract extension talks with goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Markstrom is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He’s won 18 of 34 starts with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage while facing the sixth-most shots.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Dominik Kahun was diagnosed with a concussion during Sunday’s game against Boston.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Adam Lowry will be sidelined at least a month with an upper-body injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2020

Patrick Kane reaches 1,000 points, Justin Williams tallies the game-winner in his return to the Hurricanes, the latest on Gerard Gallant, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane collected an assist for his 1,000th career point in a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Alex Nylander, Erik Gustafsson, and Connor Murphy led the way with two points apiece while Robin Lehner made 36 saves. Jets forward Adam Lowry left the game in the first period with an injured arm. The surging Blackhawks are tied with the Jets (54), sitting just three points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

Patrick Kane is the fourth player in Chicago Blackhawks history to reach 1,000 career points (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks and Jets are moving in opposite directions approaching the All-Star break. The Hawks have won five in a row and seven of their last 10, while the slumping Jets dropped two in a row and six of their last 10.

Justin Williams scored the deciding goal during a shootout in his first game of the season as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the New York Islanders 2-1. Andrei Svechnikov also scored for the Canes while Anders Lee countered for the Isles. The Hurricanes snap a three-game losing skid and hold a one-point lead (59) over the Philadelphia Flyers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

The Pittsburgh Penguins rallied from a 3-0 deficit to nip the Boston Bruins 4-3. Sidney Crosby picked up two assists while Bryan Rust tallied the winning goal.

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks picked up a win in his NHL debut backstopping his club to a 2-1 over the New York Rangers. Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied both Jackets goals.

JOURNAL-PIONEER: Former Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant said he was surprised and disappointed by his firing last week. Gallant has returned to his hometown of Summerside, PEI, and is hoping to quickly return to coaching. He said if the right opportunity came up for himself and long-time assistant coach Mike Kelly, he’d definitely consider it. Kelly was also relieved of his duties by the Golden Knights.

Gallant was slated to coach the Pacific Division in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game. “I talked to the NHL about it and they sort of left it up to me, but I didn’t really feel comfortable (going),” said Gallant. “I just said I’d sooner pass.” Arizona Coyotes bench boss Rick Tocchet will replace Gallant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given his credentials, the 2018 Jack Adams Award winner won’t be unemployed for long. I expect he’ll be back behind an NHL bench before the end of 2020.

NJ.COM: Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood suffered a concussion and lost four teeth when struck in the mask by a shot during Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers. He was symptom-free by Friday and briefly played in Saturday’s loss to Columbus.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers assigned defenseman Matt Benning to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield on a conditioning stint.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2019

The Capitals snuff out the Flames, the Blackhawks edge the Ducks, Milan Lucic receives a two-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jakub Vrana’s first career NHL hat trick powered the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson each collected two assists. The league-leading Capitals have won four straight games.

The Flames played without winger Milan Lucic. He received a two-game suspension by the department of player safety for sucker-punching Columbus Blue Jackets winger Kole Sherwood. Flames general manager Brad Treliving disagreed with the decision, claiming Lucic was responding to Sherwood slashing goaltender David Rittich.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With three suspensions and two fines on his resume, Lucic doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt for questionable tactics.

Patrick Kane’s overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks (Photo via NHL Images).

The Chicago Blackhawks blew a 2-0 lead but Patrick Kane scored in overtime as they edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Blackhawks rookie Adam Boqvist scored his first NHL goal. It was Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf’s 1,000th career regular-season game. He picked up an assist in this contest.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS: Ottawa Senators winger Scott Sabourin was released from the hospital yesterday after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Boston Bruins winger David Backes on Saturday. The Senators announced he suffered a fractured nose.The club also announced Logan Brown is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Backes left the game with an upper-body injury and is expected to miss the next couple of games.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) was placed on injured reserve.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Adam Lowry will not face supplemental discipline for a questionable hit on Vegas Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch, who left the game and didn’t return.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens have called up forward Ryan Poehling and placed center Jesperi Kotkaniemi on IR with a groin injury.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres placed defenseman Marco Scandella on injured reserve and called up blueliner Lawrence Pilut.

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL winger Dean Prentice has passed away at age 87. Prentice played 22 seasons with the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Minnesota North Stars from 1952-53 to 1973-74. He tallied 391 goals and 860 points in 1,378 games.

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