NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 29, 2022

The Rangers retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30, the Stars retire Sergei Zubov’s No. 56, plus the latest on Evander Kane, Jonathan Toews, Nathan MacKinnon, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers retired Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a pregame ceremony before dropping a 3-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. Frederick Gaudreau tallied the game-winner as the Wild overcame a 2-0 deficit. Kevin Fiala and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist for the Wild (55 points), sitting nine points ahead of the Calgary Flames in the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Rangers were without defenseman Adam Fox, who’s been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury and could miss next weekend’s NHL All-Star Game.

Henrik Lundqvist and his family watch his No. 30 being raised to the rafters at Madison Square Garden (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist becomes the 11th player in Rangers history to have his number retired. He’s their all-time leader among Blueshirts netminders in games-played (887), wins (459), shutouts (64), and save percentage (.918), and is just the fourth Rangers to win the Vezina Trophy (2012). He’s a lock for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Hall-of-Fame defenseman Sergei Zubov had his No. 56 retired by the Dallas Stars in a pregame ceremony but they went to fall 5-0 to the Washington Capitals. Vitek Vanecek had a 29-save shutout while Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists as the Capitals chased former teammate Braden Holtby from the Stars net after two periods. Washington (57 points) sits four points up on the Boston Bruins in the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot while the Stars (46 points) remain behind the Flames in the Western wild-card race.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zubov spent his first four NHL seasons with the Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins before going on to spend the remaining 12 years of his career with the Stars. He played a key role in their rise as a Stanley Cup contender in the late-1990s and early-2000s, helping them win the Cup in 1999. He’s their all-time leader in goals (111), assists (438) and points (549) among defensemen.

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their ninth straight win by hanging on to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-4. Gabriel Landeskog scored twice and collected an assist while Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists for the Avs (65 points), who are 14-0-1 through January as they take over first place in the overall standings. Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel each tallied twice for the Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Each team was without a key player in this contest. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon suffered a facial fracture and a concussion following a hit by Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall on Wednesday and will be sidelined for the next three games before next week’s All-Star break. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews entered concussion protocol as the result of a hit from Detroit Red Wings forward Joe Veleno on Wednesday.

Speaking of the Bruins, they held on to defeat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. David Pastrnak collected two assists, Linus Ullmark kicked out 30 shots and Charlie McAvoy scored what proved to be the winning goal in the second period. The Bruins played without goalie Tuukka Rask as he’s sidelined with a lower-body injury. With 53 points, they hold a nine-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings for the final Eastern wild-card berth.

As for the Red Wings, they got a 36-save effort from Calvin Pickard and a shootout goal by rookie Lucas Raymond to nip the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Jake Guentzel tallied both goals for the Penguins, who move atop the Metropolitan Division with 61 points.

IN OTHER NEWS…

DAILY FACEOFF: Former NHL executive Chris Gear analyzed how the results of the NHL’s investigation into Evander Kane could affect his grievance with the San Jose Sharks over their termination of his contract. The investigation didn’t find sufficient evidence that Kane violated COVID protocols for traveling to Canada while he was supposed to be isolating following a positive COVID test.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I recommend reading the entire piece. In a nutshell, Gear expects an arbitrator could rule in Kane’s favor where he received the full remaining entitlement from his terminated contract. The Sharks could face some sort of salary-cap charge but could also get some measure of cap relief as a consequence of his signing with the Oilers. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres hope Craig Anderson or Dustin Tokarski will be ready to play tonight after goaltender Michael Houser entered COVID protocols on Friday.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers sent goaltender Spencer Knight to their AHL affiliate after Jonas Johansson cleared COVID protocols. It’s not a demotion but a move to activate some players.

TSN: Tonight’s game between the Seattle Kraken and New York Islanders has been postponed due to a snowstorm in the New York area.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 28, 2022

Drew Doughty, Quinton Byfield and Aleksander Barkov celebrate milestones, Oilers sign Evander Kane, an update on the Coyotes search for a temporary home, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty collected an assist in his 1,000th game while teammate Quinton Byfield tallied his first NHL goal in a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Adrian Kempe tallied the winner as the Kings held off the Isles late in the third period. The Kings sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 50 points.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty, 32, has spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Kings, winning two Stanley Cups and the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman in 2015-16. He has 22 points in 25 games this season. Byfield, meanwhile, was the second-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The 19-year-old center appeared in six games last season and four this season.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov scored his 200th career goal and 500th career point to lead his club over the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Sam Bennett scored twice and Spencer Knight made 24 saves for the win as the Panthers regained first place in the overall standings with 65 points. The Golden Knights sit on top of the Pacific Division with 53 points.

Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras scored twice, including a lacrosse-style goal as his club held off the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Troy Terry had a goal and two assists as the Ducks moved to within one point of the Golden Knights in the Pacific.

J.T. Miller had a hat trick and collected an assist to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists while goalie Spencer Martin made 33 saves for his first NHL win. With 43 points, the Canucks moved two points ahead of the slumping Jets and sit three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Tampa Bay Lightning downed the New Jersey Devils 3-2 to remain two points behind the Panthers in the overall standings. Anthony Cirelli snapped a 2-2 tie and Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 31 shots for the Lightning. Jesper Bratt collected assists on both Devils’ goals.

A shootout goal by Andrei Svechnikov lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Nino Niederreiter tied the game for the Hurricanes in the third period. They’re tied with the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins with 60 points but sit first in the Metropolitan Division. Senators center Josh Norris left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are already without leading scorer Drake Batherson for perhaps the remainder of the season with a high-ankle sprain. They also signed defenseman Nick Holden yesterday to a one-year, $1.3 million contract extension.

The Seattle Kraken picked up their first overtime win in franchise history by nipping the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1. Jared McCann tied the game in the third period for the Kraken, setting the stage for Adam Larsson’s winning goal. Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins.

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner scored twice and picked up an assist to lead his club to a 5-3 upset of the New York Rangers. Sean Kuraly also scored twice for the Jackets while Joonas Korpisalo stopped 33 shots for the win. Artemi Panarin scored and picked up two assists for the Rangers while teammate Adam Fox is listed as day-to-day after leaving the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Ville Husso made 28 saves backstopping his club over the Calgary Flames 5-1. Husso is 6-0-0 in January while Brandon Saad scored two goals and picked up an assist. The Blues (57 points) sit one point behind the second-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

Connor McDavid scored in a shootout to give the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. McDavid also scored in regulation while Predators winger Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist. With 44 points, the Oilers are two back of the Flames.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The Oilers signed Evander Kane to a one-year contract after the NHL said its investigation into whether the winger breached COVID-19 protocols produced insufficient evidence to conclude he knowingly violated those protocols. Terms were not revealed but Elliotte Friedman reported it was worth $750K in base salary with a $625K signing bonus plus a no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager Ken Holland seems to believe adding a goal scorer carrying tons of personal baggage will help this struggling club overcome its shaky goaltending. It smacks of desperation by a GM who failed to suitably address his issues in the crease last summer and is now grasping at straws to save his season.

THE SCORE: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was diagnosed with a broken nose following his collision with Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall on Wednesday. A clearer timeline for his recovery remains to be determined.

TRIBLIVE.COM: cites a report by Daily Faceoff indicating Pittsburgh Penguins forward Drew O’Connor is dealing with a collapsed lung suffered during the club’s recent road trip. Neither the Penguins or O’Connor’s agent is confirming the report.

CBJ PUBLIC RELATIONS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier is expected to miss four weeks after fracturing a finger during Wednesday’s game against the Flames.

GOPHNX.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are reportedly in advanced discussions with Arizona State University to use the school’s new multi-purpose arena as their temporary home for the next three seasons while they await approval and construction of a new arena in Tempe. The facility seats just 5,000 people. The Coyotes lease at the Gila River Arena has been terminated at the end of this season by the city of Glendale.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is being done with the NHL’s blessing. The league is determined to maintain a franchise in the lucrative Arizona market.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers will be retiring Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 in a ceremony before tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars will retire Sergei Zubov’s No 56 before tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to both players for their upcoming honours. Lundqvist was one of the greatest players in the Rangers’ long history while Zubov was a key player in the Stars rise to NHL dominance in the late-90s and early-2000s.

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been charged with sexual assault by Vancouver police stemming from a 2017 allegation. He’s currently playing in the KHL but is expected to make his first provincial court appearance on Feb. 10.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 28, 2021

Key dates for the 2021-22 season are revealed, the league won’t allow unvaccinated players into Canada, plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Cole Caufield and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: The key dates for the NHL’s upcoming 2021-22 season were released yesterday. The trade deadline will be 3 pm ET on Monday, March 21, 2022, and free agency begins at noon ET on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.

Dec. 1, 2021, remains the due date for restricted free agents to be signed in order to play this season. Players on one-year contracts can sign contract extensions effective Jan. 1, 2022.

Other notable dates include the last possible date of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs (June 30), the first buyout period opening (July 1), the 2022 NHL Draft (July 7 and 8 in Montreal), and the salary arbitration period (July 27 to Aug. 11, 2022).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli (stick tap to Kukla’s Korner) tweeted out the complete list yesterday. The last day of the regular season is Apr. 30, 2021, the playoffs begin on May 2, and the deadline for qualifying offers is July 11.

THE SCORE: The NHL will not allow unvaccinated players to enter Canada to play in games this season. The league isn’t seeking a National Interest Exemption because so few NHL players remain unvaccinated. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly recently said he expected 98 percent of NHL players will be fully vaccinated by the start of the upcoming season.

The New York Rangers will retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 on Jan. 28, 2022 (NHL Images).

  NEW YORK POST: The Rangers announced they will retire Henrik Lundqvist’s No. 30 jersey on Jan. 28, 2022, in a pregame ceremony at Madison Square Garden before facing off against the Minnesota Wild. He will become the 11th player to receive that honor in Rangers history.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens rookie winger Cole Caufield will be sidelined about a week with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Joel Edmundson is expected to join his teammates in training camp on Tuesday or Wednesday after being sidelined by a minor injury. Winger Brendan Gallagher has joined his teammates after missing training camp due to family reasons.

TSN: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon claims there was no grand scheme behind his club’s successful attempt at signing away winger Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Canadiens earlier this month. He noted the signing wouldn’t have happened had his club managed to re-sign defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who inked a seven-year deal with the New Jersey Devils on July 28.

There was no grand plan…we didn’t set out to do this two years ago, even a month ago,” said Dundon. “There’s always lots of options to look at based on the order things happen. When this came up, this one actually worked.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Kotkaniemi signing was made as retribution for the Canadien’s failed attempt at signing Sebastian Aho two years ago. However, Dundon does make a good point about Hamilton.

Had the Hurricanes retained the blueliner, Kotkaniemi would probably still be with the Canadiens because the Canes would’ve lacked the cap space to sign him to a one-year, $6.1 million contract. The Hurricanes’ also attempted to trade for the 21-year-old center before going the offer sheet route, and reportedly gave the Habs a heads-up that they were going to sign him. That was an odd thing to do if revenge for the Aho offer sheet was the goal here.

The Hurricanes got a little petty by tacking the $15.00 onto the end of the $6.1 million (for Kotkaniemi’s jersey number in Montreal) and including a $20 signing bonus (signifying Aho’s jersey number). Still, that’s not proof Dundon was plotting vengeance for the past two years.

THE ATHLETIC’S Tarik El-Bashir reports Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller left practice yesterday with a lower-body injury. They’ll see how he feels today. El-Bashir doesn’t know if it’s connected to last season’s groin muscle strains.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese tested positive for COVID-19 and entered the NHL’s coronavirus protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins GM Ron Hextall last week indicated only one player in the organization was not fully vaccinated but declined to identify him. Aston-Reese’s positive COVID test doesn’t mean he was that player.

ESPN.COM: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen was removed from the COVID-19 protocol list. He’d been held out of the lineup since Friday but that doesn’t necessarily mean he tested positive.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Washington Capitals defenseman Dylan McIlrath for two preseason games and two regular-season games for an illegal hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Steven Fogarty.

Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig was suspended for one preseason game and one regular-season game for cross-checking Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois.

THE ATHLETIC’s Rick Dhaliwal reports Vancouver Canucks defenseman Brady Keeper underwent surgery on Monday for a broken leg.

THE SCORE: Former NHL defenseman Sami Vatanen signed a one-year contract with Geneve-Servette Hockey Club in Switzerland. He recorded 200 points in 473 career games with the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars.










Is There a “Right Way” To Retire NHL Jersey Numbers?

Is There a “Right Way” To Retire NHL Jersey Numbers?

The New York Rangers’ plan to retire Henrik Lundqvist’s number prompted the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mark Madden to suggest some teams conduct that practice too frequently.

While taking note of Lundqvist’s 15 seasons with the Rangers, Madden pointed out he never won a Stanley Cup, appeared in just one Cup final and won the Vezina only once. He suggested no one would know who Lundqvist was if he played in Buffalo but he gets his number retired because he played for the big-market Rangers.

Madden also pointed out the Rangers, who’ve won just one championship since 1940, retired eight numbers honoring 10 players but only three won the Stanley Cup. He felt that “when glory isn’t earned, it’s good PR to bestow it.”

That’s a blithe dismissal of Lundqvist’s accomplishments and of his fellow Ranger greats who lack a Stanley Cup on their resumes.

Lundqvist had a career worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame and could become a first-ballot inductee. He was the Rangers’ franchise player throughout most of his NHL career. He’s their all-time leader in games played for goalies (887), save percentage (.918), shutouts (64) and wins (459), ranking sixth all-time in that category among NHL goalies.

Henrik Lundqvist’s jersey number (30) will join those of other Rangers greats (NHL.com).

Rod Gilbert, who recently passed away at age 80, is another Ranger great who never won the Stanley Cup. He was their first player to have his number retired following 18 seasons from 1960-61 to 1977-78. He still holds the franchise record with 406 career goals and 1,021 points and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.

Jean Ratelle played over 14 seasons with the Rangers, most of those as Gilbert’s linemate. He’s second among their all-time scoring leaders with 336 goals and third with 481 assists and 817 points. He won the Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsey Award) in 1971-72, the Masterton Trophy in 1971 and the first of his four Lady Byng Memorial Trophies as a Ranger. He went into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Harry Howell was a Ranger for 17 of his 21 NHL seasons, holding the club record with 1,160 games. He was the last player to win the Norris Trophy as the top defenseman before the league expanded from six to 12 teams in 1967. Howell was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.

Madden also took swipes at teams with “legit history” like the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs who “don’t necessarily get it right” when retiring numbers.

The Canadiens have retired 15 numbers honoring 18 players. Madden acknowledged it’s hard to argue against their choices but felt that’s a bad thing and “stupid” because it leaves too many of their current players skating with numbers in the 40s through the 90s, making them look like a roller-hockey team.

So what are the Canadiens supposed to do? Not honor the plethora of great players who played leading roles in their rich history, including their league-leading 24 Stanley Cup titles? It’s also worth noting the Canadiens aren’t the only team with current players sporting high jersey numbers and they certainly don’t look embarrassing doing so. Some even include such Hall-of-Famers as Wayne Gretzky (99), Eric Lindros (88) and Mario Lemieux (66).

Turning to the Leafs, Madden observed five of their 19 players to have their numbers retired (Mats Sundin, Darryl Sittler, Borje Salming, Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark) played during their Cup-less years since 1967.

As with Lundqvist, Gilbert, Ratelle and Howell with the Rangers, Sundin, Sittler, Salming and Gilmour are among the Leafs’ all-time greats and Hall-of-Fame inductees. The lack of a Stanley Cup on their resumes as Leafs (Gilmour won his with the Calgary Flames) shouldn’t be held against them having their jersey numbers retired.

I do agree with Madden over the retirement of Clark’s number despite being one of my favorite Leafs. He was often the only good thing during the dark ages of the Harold Ballard era and a long-time fan favorite. Retirement of his number seemed mostly for sentimental reasons but that’s the Leafs’ prerogative and their fans don’t have an issue with it.

Madden believes the Pittsburgh Penguins “do it right” when retiring numbers. Only Mario Lemieux and Michel Briere received that honor from the Penguins. Sidney Crosby, Jaromir Jagr and Evgeni Malkin are certain to enjoy the same accolade once their Hall of Fame-worthy playing careers have ended

By the way, Lemieux, Crosby and Jagr all wore numbers in the 40 through 90 range without making their team look like a roller-hockey team.

The argument can be made the Penguins only have a tiny fraction of retired or soon-to-be-retired numbers because they represent two bright periods (1990 to 1997, 2008 to 2016) in the Penguins’ 55-year history. Many of the years leading up to the Lemieux-Jagr era were mostly mediocre. Lemieux’s final seasons were spent with a floundering club on the brink of relocation before a new arena save them during the Crosby-Malkin era.

Using Madden’s logic, we can make the case against the retirement of Briere’s number. That honored was bestowed when the young forward was killed in a car accident in 1970. It was a tragic end to a promising NHL career, but was it really worth retiring his number?

There’s really no “right way” to honor former or fallen players. Those who enjoyed Hall of Fame careers deserve that accolade regardless of whether they won the Stanley Cup. There’s also nothing wrong with retiring the number of a long-time fan favorite or remembering a player full of promise whose career was sadly cut short.

Now, if you want to critique teams that raise banners for meaningless regular-season accomplishments, that’s a bone worth picking.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2021

The preseason schedule is released plus the latest on  Jaden Schwartz, David Krejci, Henrik Lundqvist and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The 2021-22 preseason schedule was released on Monday. It begins on Saturday, Sept. 25 as the Montreal Canadiens travel to Toronto to meet the Maple Leafs for an afternoon contest. The Minnesota Wild will face off against the St. Louis Blues in an evening contest.

Seattle Kraken winger Jaden Schwartz (NHL Images).

The following day features the Seattle Kraken hosting the Vancouver Canucks at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The schedule concludes with 11 games on Saturday, Oct. 9.

THE ATHLETIC: Jaden Schwartz revealed he almost didn’t play with the St. Louis Blues last season following the sudden death of his father. It was the relationships within the organization and the memory of his dad that convinced him to play. Now signed with the Seattle Kraken, he’s looking forward to a new chapter in his life and career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schwartz was hampered by an oblique injury last season but the loss of his father also affected his performance. He’ll be expected to play a leadership role with the Kraken in their upcoming inaugural campaign.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins center David Krejci was formally introduced yesterday as the latest member of the Czech Republic club HC Olomouc. While the Bruins have left the door open for Krejci to return later this season, the 35-year-old center appears intent on playing back home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Krejci plays one game in the Czech Republic he’d have to clear waivers to return to the Bruins or any other NHL club this season.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist is looking forward to having his No. 30 raised to the rafters of Madison Square Garden by the New York Rangers at some point in the coming season. He played 15 seasons with the Blueshirts, winning a franchise-record 459 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report came out before Sunday’s news of the passing of Rangers legend Rob Gilbert. Lundqvist tweeted out his condolences on Monday.

TSN: Former NHL forward Jimmy Hayes died Monday at age 31. The older brother of Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes, Jimmy spent seven seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils from 2011-12 to 2017-18, totaling 54 goals and 109 points in 334 games.

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

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins and his wife Aleksandra recently welcomed son Knox Matiss Merzlikins into their family. His middle name honors the memory of Merzlkins’ friend and teammate Matiss Kivlenieks, who died last month during a fireworks incident.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2021

Henrik Lundqvist announces his retirement, the Blues to retire Chris Pronger’s number, legendary Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret to call it a career following this season, the viability of moving the Coyotes to Houston, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist officially announced his retirement yesterday after 15 seasons with the New York Rangers and four with Frolunda in Sweden before that. A heart condition has ended his playing career at age 39.

Former New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has retired (NHL Images).

Lundqvist is the sixth winningest goaltender in NHL history with a record of 459-310-96, a 2.43 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and 64 shutouts, along with 61 wins and 10 shutouts in the playoffs. The Rangers immediately retired Lundqvist’s No. 30 and will stage a retirement ceremony later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist was one of the great goaltenders of his generation and the best in Rangers history. “King Henrik” is their all-time leader in wins, save percentage, shutouts, and game-played by a goalie (887). He’s a shoo-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A First Team All-Star in 2011-12 and a Second Team All-Star the following season, Lundqvist won the Vezina Trophy in 2012 and was also a four-time Vezina finalist. He backstopped the Rangers to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and won Olympic gold for his home country of Sweden in 2006.

Best wishes to Lundqvist and his family in their future endeavors.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues announced they will retire Chris Pronger’s No. 44 on Jan. 17 before a game against the Nashville Predators. The former Blues captain is among their franchise leaders in games played (598), assists (272) and points (356).

A four-time All-Star, Pronger’s best season was 1999-2000, becoming just the second defenseman in NHL history to win the Hart Memorial Trophy and the James Norris Memorial Trophy. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

WGR 550: Long-time Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret will retire at the end of the 2021-22 season. This will be his 51st season behind the mike for the Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jeanneret is one of the best in the business. His iconic call of Brad May’s series-winning overtime goal against the Boston Bruins in the 1993 playoffs is among my favorites.

THE ATHLETIC: News of the Arizona Coyotes’ lease agreement with Gila River Arena ending next year prompted some observers to suggest relocating the franchise to Houston. However, Dallas Stars CEO Brad Alberts told Saad Yousef he doesn’t think that’s a possibility, saying there’s been no discussion at the league level about putting a team in that city.

Alberts said he’s heard rumors that Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta wants an NHL franchise in his city but doesn’t know for certain if he does. He acknowledged things can change but doesn’t believe the league intends to abandon Phoenix.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I said yesterday, the league will do everything it can to keep the Coyotes in Arizona. If that’s not possible, moving to a new city requires a wealthy owner with a viable NHL arena. Fertitta was keen to do so two years ago but that was before the pandemic disrupted normal life. He might not be so enthusiastic now.

TSN: The Calgary Flames avoided salary arbitration with Nikita Zadorov by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to a one-year, $3.75 million contract. They also signed blueliner Juuso Valimaki to a two-year, $3.1 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves Philadelphia Flyers rearguard Travis Sanheim as the only player still scheduled for arbitration. His hearing is slated for Aug. 26 but he’ll probably be signed before then.