NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2023
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron announced his retirement, Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz has passed away, Wild GM Bill Guerin named the club’s president of hockey operations, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron announced his retirement yesterday through a statement on the club’s website.
Bergeron, 38, thanked the many people who supported him during his 19-season NHL career spent entirely with the Bruins. They included the club’s ownership, management, coaches and teammates, as well as his family, his agents and the fans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, Bergeron was the greatest two-way forward in NHL history and among the great players in Bruins history. He was also one of the classiest and most-respected players to lace up skates in the NHL and should be a first-ballot inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Bergeron was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward in 12 straight seasons (2011-12 to 2022-23), winning it a record six times. He’s third among the Bruins’ franchise leaders in total games played (1,294), goals (427) and points (1040) and fourth in assists with 613. He helped the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup Final three times (2011, 2013 and 2019), winning the Cup in 2011 and captaining them to 65 wins and 135 points (both NHL records) in 2022-23.
In addition to his NHL success, Bergeron was also a winner on the international stage. He won gold playing for Canada at the 2004 World Championships, 2005 World Junior Championship, and the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. He was also part of Canada’s Spengler Cup win in 2012 and the World Cup of Hockey in 2016.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Shukri Wrights wondered who will replace Bergeron as the Bruins’ captain. He mentioned long-time winger Brad Marchand and top defenseman Charlie McAvoy as possible candidates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Replacing Bergeron as team captain will be a difficult task. Finding someone to fill his role as their first-line center is a much bigger challenge. I’ll have more on that in today’s Rumor Mill.
CHICAGO HOCKEY NOW: Rocky Wirtz, the chairman of the Blackhawks since 2007, passed away on Tuesday at age 70. Taking over following his father William’s death, he was responsible for the club’s ascension from an also-ran into a Stanley Cup contender, winning three championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus observed, Wirtz leaves behind a mixed legacy. While he resurrected the Blackhawks following years of stagnation during his father’s tenure as team owner, he was also the club’s chairman when Kyle Beach was allegedly sexually assaulted in 2010 by the team’s video coach at the time.
An investigation cleared Wirtz but several key front-office personnel were fired, including general manager Stan Bowman and team president John McDonough. He angrily shouted down his son and two reporters for mentioning Beach during a disastrous town hall event in February 2022. Wirtz subsequently issued an apology but was rarely seen at Blackhawks events after that.
STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild named general manager Bill Guerin as their new president of hockey operations.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: The New York Islanders are still awaiting a decision from Zach Parise if he’ll retire or return for another season. Parise, 38, completed his 18th NHL season, playing in all 82 games and scoring 21 goals while seeing time on their power-play and penalty-killing units.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed Eetu Luostarinen to a three-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $3 million. The 24-year-old forward is earning $1.5 million on his current contract which expires at the end of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Luostarinen made significant progress in his three seasons with the Panthers. He saw top-six minutes last season, netting a career-best 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points.