NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2023
The Vegas Golden Knights are the 2023 Stanley Cup champions, the Senators move closer to having a new owner, the Rangers have a new head coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS ARE THE 2023 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights thumped the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to become the 2023 champions. The Golden Knights take the series four games to one.
Vegas captain Mark Stone tallied a hat trick, Jack Eichel and Shea Theodore each had three assists and Reilly Smith scored what proved to be the winning goal. Adin Hill stopped 32 shots for the win.
Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He was tied for first among this year’s postseason scorers with 13 goals and was second in points with 25.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first Stanley Cup championship in the Golden Knights’ six-year history. This game had a sense of inevitability after they took a 2-0 into the second period. The Panthers cut the lead in half early in the second but that only seemed to spark the Golden Knights. They dominated the rest of that period with four unanswered goals to put the game out of reach.
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy started five of the six remaining original Golden Knights – Marchessault, Smith, Theodore, William Karlsson and Brayden McNabb – for Game 5. They, along with William Carrier, were the first Golden Knights to hoist the Stanley Cup following the game after Stone received it from league commissioner Gary Bettman.
Stone is just the third player in NHL history to tally a hat trick in a Cup-clinching game, joining Jack Darragh of the 1920 Ottawa Senators and Babe Dye of the 1922 Toronto St. Pats.
The Golden Knights earned this championship after missing the playoffs last season and trading scorer Max Pacioretty to Carolina last summer in a cost-cutting deal.
They began the season with starting goaltender Robin Lehner out for the season recovering from hip surgery. They played with five goalies this season, with Hill taking over midway through their second-round series against Edmonton after Laurent Brossoit was sidelined.
Stone missed part of this season to his second back surgery in less than a year. There were questions about Eichel’s effectiveness after missing most of last season recovering from neck surgery.
For Cassidy, this is sweet redemption after being fired a year ago by the Boston Bruins. The Bruins set records this season for wins (65) and points (135) but were upset by the Panthers in the opening round of the playoffs.
Team owner Bill Foley’s 2016 prediction of his club winning the Stanley Cup in their sixth season came true. “I’m going to relax and think about my next asinine statement,” said Foley with a big smile following the game.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Despite their disappointing finish to the Stanley Cup Final, the Florida Panthers had an extraordinary postseason run. They squeaked into the playoffs, upset the record-setting Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the second-overall Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have a solid core of talent led by Matthew Tkachuk, Aleksander Barkov, Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad to remain a playoff contender next season. However, they couldn’t match the Golden Knights’ roster depth in the Final. Expect management to get to work on addressing that issue this summer.
SPORTSNET: The Panthers paid a heavy physical price in this postseason. Following Game 5, head coach Paul Maurice revealed Tkachuk suffered a fractured sternum in Game 3. Tkachuk played a limited role in Game 4 and couldn’t play in Game 5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: One report indicated Tkachuk needed help from his brother Brady to get out of bed following his pregame nap before Game 4. He was their leading scorer in this postseason. Tkachuk’s feisty style at times drew criticism from fans but no one can say he didn’t give his all.
Maurice also revealed Ekblad suffered a broken foot, dislocated his shoulder twice, and tore his oblique during the Panthers’ playoff run. He missed only one game. He said blueliner Radko Gudas played with a high-ankle sprain that should’ve sidelined him for six weeks. He missed one period.
The Panthers coach didn’t reveal any more details on his injured players. However, he admitted that multiple players will require surgeries, with some facing recovery periods of four-to-six months. Most of those injuries occurred during their first-round series with the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We should learn more details in the coming days. Some of those players could end up missing the opening weeks of the 2023-24 season.
IN OTHER NEWS…
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have an agreement in principle with Toronto billionaire Michael Andlauer to purchase the club. His bid is believed to be worth $950 million. A part-owner of the Montreal Canadiens, Andlauer must now sell his share of that team.
The agreement will go before NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who will present it to the Board of Governors meeting later this month in New York. It requires a two-thirds majority for approval.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will still take several weeks for the sale to close and for Andlauer to take over the Senators. Barring the unforeseen, however, it’s expected he’ll become their new owner.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have hired Peter Laviolette as their new head coach. He received a three-year contract worth slightly less than $5 million per season.
TSN: Patrick Roy officially stepped down as head coach of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts. When asked if any NHL clubs had reached out to him regarding a coaching position, Roy said “absolutely none”.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans think it’s more than a coincidence that Roy made this announcement on the same day that the Senators reached an agreement in principle with Andlauer. However, he indicated at the start of this season that he would be stepping down as Remparts coach.
SPORTSNET: Patrick Sharp is returning to where his NHL career began by joining the Philadelphia Flyers as a special advisor to hockey operations.
TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Derek Ryan to a two-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $900K.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Changes are coming to the Canadiens’ medical staff after the club finished with the most man-games lost to injury for the second straight year. They fired head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend and head physiotherapist Donald Balmforth on Tuesday.