NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 18, 2021

The Senators hold off the Stars, Jimmy Hayes’ family reveals his cause of death, plus the latest on Brady Tkachuk, Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Karlsson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Chris Tierney scored two power-play goals as the Ottawa Senators held off the Dallas Stars for a 3-2 victory in Sunday’s only game on the NHL schedule. Connor Brown assisted on all three Senators’ goals while Filip Gustavsson made 32 saves for the win. Michael Raffl and Joe Pavelski replied for the Stars.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of the Senators, head coach D.J. Smith revealed Brady Tkachuk will make his season debut on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks. The 21-year-old left winger missed training camp and the opening game of the season due to contract negotiations. Signed to a new seven-year deal on Thursday, the Senators felt he needed time to get himself prepared.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, they don’t want to rush Tkachuk into the lineup and risk an injury before he’s in game shape.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The family of Jimmy Hayes revealed Sunday the former NHL forward died on Aug. 23 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. They hope telling his story will help save lives.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This story indicates Hayes got addicted to painkillers dealing with an injury. His father noticed a problem 16-17 months ago and spoke to his son. Hayes subsequently received help and seemed on the path to recovery.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

The opioid epidemic doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of age or status, it is destroying lives at an alarming rate.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews makes his season debut tonight against the New York Rangers. He underwent wrist surgery two months ago.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, they’ve recalled goaltender Michael Hutchison on an emergency basis. Salary cap constraints forced them to bring in University of Toronto netminder Alex Bishop on a one-day amateur tryout as Jack Campbell’s backup during Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Senators.

THE DENVER POST: Nathan MacKinnon remains sidelined by COVID protocol and won’t travel with the team to Washington today. Defenseman Jack Johnson will make the trip following a negative COVID test on Saturday.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson still considers himself among the best players in the game as he looks to bounce back from a down year last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries hampered Karlsson in 2018-19 and 2019-20. He missed only four games last season but his production dropped to a career-low 22 points. The Sharks will need a solid effort from a healthy 31-year-old Karlsson if they hope to make the playoffs this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Karlsson’s teammate Nikolai Knyzhov will undergo surgery this week on a lower-body injury. He’s expected to be sidelined eight to 10 weeks.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko suffered an upper-body injury Saturday and was placed on injured reserve yesterday.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for roughing Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto on Saturday.

TSN: Former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Mikko Lehtonen signed a four-year contract with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg. He recently refused assignment to the AHL and he and the Jackets agreed to terminate his contract.

THE PROVINCE: The son of Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning was hospitalized following an alleged assault outside a local nightspot early Sunday morning. The 25-year-old and his sister were reportedly attacked by four men outside the nightclub. He declined assistance from paramedics for facial injuries and went to the hospital himself. Jim Benning and the Canucks declined to comment.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Benning’s son is ok. No word yet if anyone has been apprehended.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2021

The 2021-22 season opens tonight, the Lightning sign Jon Cooper to a contract extension plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Nicklas Backstrom, Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The puck drops on the 2021-22 season tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins face off against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning while the expansion Seattle Kraken plays their inaugural game against the Vegas Golden Knights.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken forwards Jared McCann, Marcus Johansson and Joonas Donskoi and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak joined teammate Calle Jarnkrok in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken will be without five of their better players for tonight’s franchise-opening matchup against the Golden Knights. The latter isn’t untouched by COVID as Mattias Janmark also entered the protocol yesterday.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Speaking of the Lightning, they signed head coach Jon Cooper to a three-year contract extension. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Cooper is making between $3.5 million and $4 million on his current deal.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville is earning a league-leading $5.5 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cooper earns that much, if not more, on his new deal.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is expected to miss the first three games of the regular season as he continues to recover from offseason wrist surgery. Teammate Ilya Mikheyev suffered a broken thumb and is expected to be sidelined for two months. The Leafs also lost forward Adam Brooks as he was plucked off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals listed center Nicklas Backstrom (hip injury) as injured non-roster yesterday. His $9.2 million cap hit continues to count against the Capitals salary-cap payroll but he doesn’t count against their 23-man roster.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane is listed as non-roster pending the completion of two league investigations into allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. Meanwhile, 2021 first-round pick William Eklund earned himself a spot on their 23-man roster to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s off-ice issues and Tomas Hertl’s contract situation has overshadowed Eklund’s solid preseason performance. They could have a promising young star in their ranks if he adjusts well to the NHL pace this season.

THE PROVINCE: The Canucks will open the season with forwards Brock Boeser, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte sidelined. Defenseman Travis Hamonic cleared waivers yesterday and has been loaned to their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed goaltender Ben Bishop on long-term injury reserve to give themselves some salary-cap flexibility to open the season. They also listed forwards Jason Robertson and Blake Comeau as day-to-day.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers won’t have a captain this season. They instead named Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Jacob Trouba, Ryan Strome and Barclay Goodrow as alternate captains.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One of them could be named captain following this season as head coach Gerard Gallant evaluates their performance and leadership. They haven’t had a captain since Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The investigation into the July 4 death of Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks continues. The preliminary report concluded his death was a tragic accident but the police turned it over to the county prosecutor’s office on July 12. No criminal charges were request and none have been filed but the prosecutor’s office referred to the matter as a “criminal case”. There’s no timetable for the investigation’s conclusion.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings released winger Bobby Ryan from his professional tryout offer yesterday. However, general manager Steve Yzerman has left the door open for his possible return to the roster at some point.

TSN: Brian Boyle is expected to sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins after playing with them during preseason on a PTO.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas created a stir yesterday by golfing with pop star Harry Styles, who’s playing the PNC Center on Tuesday.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators promoted Scott Nichol to assistant general manager.

NBC SPORTS: The American Hockey League will have 10 women among their 17 new on-ice officials this season. They are referees Katie Guay, Kelly Cooke, Jacqueline Zee Howard, Laura White, Samantha Hiller, Elizabeth Mantha and Amanda Tasson and linespeople Kendall Hanley, Kirsten Welsh and Alexandra Clarke.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to them all. Perhaps one or more of them will one day be officiating in the NHL.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

Carey Price enters the league’s player assistance program, the USA, Finland and Czech Republic name their first players to their respective Olympic men’s hockey teams, Blake Coleman suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price entered the NHL’s player assistance program. The 34-year-old had been recovering from offseason knee surgery. General manager Marc Bergevin said Price could be absent from the team for at least 30 days but didn’t rule out a longer absence.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Bergevin said Price has the support of the club and his teammates. “Today, I’m not thinking about Carey Price, the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but Carey Price the human being,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will miss Price between the pipes while some fans are wondering why he’s reached out for assistance. None of that is important and the latter is none of our business. What matters is Price gets the help and time he needs to get his life and health back on track.

Speaking of the Canadiens, winger Jonathan Drouin missed Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators with a non-COVID-related illness.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens don’t intend on providing any updates on GM Bergevin’s contract situation until the end of the season. His deal is slated to expire at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read more about Bergevin’s contract status in today’s Rumor Mill. 

TSN: Team USA named Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones to their 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team on Thursday.

Finland named Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, and Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen to their men’s Olympic squad.

NHL.COM: The Czech Republic named Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek to their Olympic team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The IIHF requested countries submit the names of their first three players several weeks ago. Canada and Sweden submitted theirs earlier this week.

NHL.COM: Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman was suspended for the club’s final preseason game and their first regular-season contest for boarding Winnipeg Jets forward Jansen Harkins during Wednesday’s preseason game.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz will miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. He also suffered a lower-body injury in the 2020 playoffs and missed all of last season. The Avs also announced head coach Jared Bednar tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the club’s final two preseason games. It’s unclear when he’ll return behind the bench.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Colin White requires surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder. He’s expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months. Meanwhile, the club announced they’ve signed winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $900K contract.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers winger Noel Acciari could miss significant time with an upper-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian struck his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks’ Zack MacEwen in last night’s preseason game between the two clubs. Kassian had to be helped from the ice but was reportedly talking to teammates in the dressing room and in good spirits.

NEW YORK POST: A power failure in part of the Prudential Center led to the cancellation of the preseason game between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 5, 2021

Check out the latest on Robin Lehner, Carey Price, Auston Matthews, Anders Lee and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Robin Lehner clarified comments he made on Twitter Sunday accusing several NHL teams of distributing medication to players without a doctor’s prescription. He said he was not accusing Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault of doing this but was instead criticizing how he handled his players. Vigneault, meanwhile, denied Lehner’s claim mistreated his players.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (NHL Images).

Meanwhile, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he takes Lehner’s comments seriously and expects to speak with him in short order to hear his concerns and follow up to determine what merit there may be. He added Lehner could’ve contacted the league directly rather than taking to Twitter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Say this for Lehner, he got everyone’s attention with his tweets. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this after his interview with Bettman.

Bettman also spoke about the current standoff between the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel regarding medical treatment for his injured neck. He indicated the league is “up to speed” on the current situation, adding there’s legitimate disagreement among doctors as to which course of treatment Eichel should undergo.

It’s a terrible situation,” said Bettman. “I don’t think it’s fair to point the finger at anybody in terms of who’s right or who’s wrong.” He felt both sides are approaching this issue with “the best intention, ” adding people “need to be a little more patient.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, don’t expect a resolution to this story anytime soon.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Montreal Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said Carey Price was absent from Monday’s practice to a non-COVID illness. He said they’re less confident the 34-year-old goaltender will start the season on time as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a tad optimistic expecting Price to be at full strength when the season opens next week. The Habs would be wise to continue giving their franchise player more time to get into game shape.

The Canadiens got some good news as rookie winger Cole Caufield has resumed practice after missing the past week with an upper-body injury.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews participated in full practice yesterday for the first time since undergoing wrist surgery during the offseason. It’s uncertain if he’ll take part in a preseason game.

TSN: Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau is fine after leaving Monday’s preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period for precautionary reasons.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders captain Anders Lee could make his preseason debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. It would be his first game since undergoing knee surgery in March.

THE ATHLETIC: Seattle Kraken center Yanni Gourde took part in practice for the first time since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. The timeline for his return remains uncertain. He’ll be evaluated in a couple of weeks.

TSN: Ottawa Senators center Colin White could be sidelined for a while after leaving Monday’s preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore and forwards Nicolas Roy and Brett Howden are listed as day-to-day.

TSN: Nashville Predators assistant coach Todd Richards is recovering from a heart attack. He suffered the attack on Friday but has been released from hospital and is resting at home.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Richards for a swift and full recovery.

CAP FRIENDLY: Free agent defenseman Ben Hutton has signed a professional tryout offer with the Anaheim Ducks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2021

Evander Kane facing another league investigation, the Lightning sign GM Julien BriseBois to a new contract, plus the latest on Auston Matthews, MacKenzie Blackwood and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane faces another investigation by the NHL, this time for a possible violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols. The details being investigated are currently unknown.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

The 30-year-old Kane is also facing a league investigation regarding his behavior toward his estranged wife, Anna. Earlier this month, the NHL cleared Kane of allegations by Anna claiming he gambled on league games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane and the Sharks reached an agreement last week that he would not attend training camp until further notice.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed general manager Julien BriseBois to a contract extension. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. BriseBois helped to build the Lightning into consecutive Stanley Cup champions in 2020 and 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: BriseBois played a key role in building the Lightning into consecutive Cup champions. He was assistant GM from 2010 to 2018, developing current Lightning players such as Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli while GM of their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. As Lightning GM, he acquired Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who played key roles in the Bolts’ recent championships.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews has returned to practice following offseason wrist surgery. He’s expected to return to the lineup in time for their season-opener on Oct. 13.

ESPN.COM: New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood said he’s currently unvaccinated, leaving open the possibility he could still get the vaccine at some point. “I have a couple of health concerns and health reasons why I’m working through it a little slower. I wanted to check off a couple of boxes, and not rush to do it,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackwood faces missing his club’s road games in Canada if he remains unvaccinated throughout this season.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson revealed he signed with the Seattle Kraken in July for family reasons rather than financial ones. His father, Robert Larsson, passed away three years ago while visiting his son in Edmonton. He said he felt he had to leave for his personal well-being and a fresh start.

NEW YORK POST: Once-promising defenseman Libor Hajek has slid down the Rangers’ blueline depth chart, surpassed by K’Andre Miller, Patrik Nemeth and Zac Jones. His chance of sticking with the Blueshirts out of training camp could be in peril. He could get plucked off waivers by a rival club if assigned to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 14, 2021

Check out the latest on Auston Matthews, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Ryan Kesler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews explained why he waited until mid-August to undergo surgery for a nagging wrist injury. He said he wanted to see if it would heal following a period of rest. After ramping up his on-ice training, it still didn’t feel right and the decision to undergo the procedure was made following consultation with specialists and the Leafs’ medical staff.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

It’s nothing serious. So I’m happy we got it done,” said Matthews. The 2021 Richard Trophy Winner indicated he’s not worried about it and anticipates being fully recovered for the opening night of the season next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind Matthews won the goal-scoring crown while plagued by that injury during the 2020-21 campaign. He could be on pace for another Richard Trophy this season.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois admitted keeping quiet about his reasons for requesting a trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets opened the door for false rumors last season. He still believes maintaining his silence on the matter was the mature thing to do. “Maybe one day, when I retire, maybe I’ll write a book,” he said.

Dubois also acknowledged he never felt comfortable last season because of the mental and physical roller coaster from the trade and subsequent injuries. He’s looking forward to turning the page and believes the adversity will help him in the long run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is entitled to this privacy but the lack of details over why he wanted out of Columbus was going to generate conjecture from fans and pundits. I anticipate he’ll be motivated for a strong bounce-back performance this season.

NHL.COM: Ryan Kesler acknowledged he’ll never play in the NHL again as he’s still recovering from resurfacing surgery on his left hip in February. He also underwent a similar procedure on his right hip in 2019. The 37-year-old center also admitted he was in so much pain during his final two NHL seasons that he hated playing the game.

Kesler and his family have moved back to Michigan. He was recently named a volunteer assistant coach with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kesler is entering the final year of his contract with the Anaheim Ducks. His last active NHL season was 2018-19 and he’s been on long-term injury reserve since then.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets have parted ways with assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre after he opted not to get a COVID-19 vaccine and will not be able to coach as a result. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen explained the NHL’s strict COVID-19 protocols are most stringent on those with direct access to the players. Lefebvre has been replaced by Steve McCarthy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report also indicates Kekalainen declined to reveal Lefebvre’s reason for not getting vaccinated. In a statement, he said the team respects Lefebvre’s decision as a personal one.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Colorado Eagles assistant coach Brett Clark has departed his job after he also declined to get vaccinated. The Eagles are the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL’s COVID protocols also extend to its AHL affiliates.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Noah Gregor to a one-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s a two-way deal worth $750K at the NHL level.

TSN: An American advocacy group is calling upon the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USPOC) to suspend Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman from his role as GM of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team. Bowman faces allegations of covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players by their former video coach.

NHL ALUMNI: announced the passing of former NHL right wing Jack “Smokey” Egers on Sep. 10 at age 72. Egers spent seven seasons with the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals from 1969-70 to 1975-76, tallying 64 goals and 133 points in 284 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following his playing career, Egers moved back to Kitchener, Ontario, and became a firefighter, rising to the rank of captain. My condolences to his family, friends, former teammates and co-workers.