NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

Lightning edge Islanders to take 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final, Bruce Cassidy wins the Jack Adams Award, GM of the Year finalists announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Islanders winger Matt Martin opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it before the period was over.

This was a close-checking, physical contest. Lightning winger Alex Killorn was ejected early in the first period for boarding Isles center Brock Nelson, who left the game under concussion protocol but returned to action. Martin and Luke Schenn received fighting majors early in the second period. Martin and Pat Maroon received roughing minors later in the period.

It was a costly victory for the Lightning as first-line center Brayden Point left the game in the second period with an apparent lower-body injury. Head coach Jon Cooper said an update on Point’s condition could be revealed on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Islanders. They rebounded well from their 8-2 blowout loss in Game 1 and did a good job for the most part shutting down the Lightning’s offense until Kucherov struck in the dying seconds. They outshot the Bolts 13-4 in the first period and 28-21 overall.

However, the Isles couldn’t get more than one puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and failed to capitalize on four power-play opportunities. They now find themselves in a deep hole against a very talented club approaching Game 3 on Friday night.

Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins is the 2020 winner of the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year. He guided the Bruins to this season’s best record as they were the only club to reach 100 points, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for their efforts.

Julien BriseBois of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still targeting an 82-games schedule for 2020-21. However, he admitted the projected start date of Dec. 1 appears less likely. They’re also hoping to have fans in the stands when they reopen but can’t guarantee that’ll be the case. Daly also doesn’t think it would be a problem if the league staged games next summer, pointing to how well ice conditions held up in the bubble cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a miracle, next season won’t open on Dec.1. Or Jan. 1. And I have my doubts it’ll start on Feb. 1. My guess is we’ll see a shortened schedule between 50-60 games starting in mid-February at the earliest, with the playoffs running into late-July.

THE SCORE: NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire is no longer in the running for the Arizona Coyotes’ vacant general manager position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several folks on Twitter yesterday observed McGuire almost always seems to be in the running for a GM job and always seems to be the first one eliminated from the competition.

Meanwhile, Arizona Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan reports former Coyotes captain Shane Doan isn’t under consideration for the job. He cites several sources suggesting the club believes Doan, who works for the NHL, had a hand in the sanctions the league handed the Coyotes for violating fitness testing rules for draft-eligible players. However, there’s no indication Doan was involved in the league’s decision.

THE ATHLETIC: Dan Hinote is expected to join the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 6, 2020

The Islanders advance to the Eastern Conference Final, the NHL will begin announcing its award winners, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the first time since 1993, the New York Islanders are going to the Conference Finals. They shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 7 of their second-round series and face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final in Edmonton.

Thomas Greiss made 16 saves for the shutout while Brock Nelson led the way offensively with a goal and two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a complete team victory by the Islanders. They stifled the Flyers’ offense with their defensive play and aggressive forecheck. Head coach Barry Trotz’s decision to start Greiss over Semyon Varlamov also paid off.

The lack of consistent production by the Flyers’ top scorers was a problem throughout the playoffs. It came home to roost in Game 7 against the Isles defense.

The NHL will begin revealing some of the winners of its individual awards from Sept. 6 to Sept. 13. Those to be announced include the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (Sept. 6), Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy (Sept. 7), Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award (Sept. 8), Jack Adams Award (Sept. 9), Frank J. Selke Trophy (Sept. 10), Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Sept. 11), Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award (Sept. 12), and the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award (Sept. 13).

A 30-minute program during the Stanley Cup Final will announce the winners of the Calder Memorial Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, James Norris Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and the Vezina Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this format and I hope the league sticks with it going forward. Their annual award show in Las Vegas has a cringe factor comparable to “The Dundies” episode of The Office.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals have reportedly interviewed Mike Babcock and Gerard Gallant for their vacant head-coaching position.

SPORTSNET: The Arizona Coyotes have interviewed NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire for their vacant general manager job.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves received a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Juuso Riikola to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.15 million.

SPORTSNET: A resolution has yet to be reached allowing the families of the players on the remaining four NHL clubs to join them in the playoff bubble in Edmonton. Discussions are ongoing between the league, the NHL Players Association, and the Canadian federal government.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2020

The latest on the NHL’s efforts to resume its season and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Burnside reports recent suggestions the NHL’s Return to Play committee might have a plan for restarting the season by this week could be optimistic given the back-and-forth between the players and league on a final format. Both sides appear to favor an expanded playoff format involving 24 teams. “Twelve teams from each of the two conferences would gather in four hub cities, six teams per city,” writes Burnside.

An extended period of training for up to three weeks would be required before the playoffs begin. Burnside cites multiple sources suggesting a round-robin lead-in of five games, using points percentage from that tournament combined with regular-season points percentage would give the top two teams in each division a bye, with the bottom four clubs playing a best-of-three to determine the traditional 16-team postseason field.

Burnside also reports the list of potential hub cities has been narrowed to “Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Vegas, Dallas, and Minneapolis/St. Paul as the front-runners.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s was reportedly some pushback against a 24-team playoff format from some quarters, as it would allow the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens – who were all but eliminated from playoff contention when the schedule was paused – into this proposed tournament. The New York Post’s Larry Brooks, however, feels the NHL needs those big-market clubs (as well as the New York Rangers) to make a big splash upon its return and energize more of the league’s fan base.

Brooks also scoffs at critics worried the 24th place Canadiens could win the Stanley Cup under that scenario, pointing out no one had a problem with the 13th-overall Los Angeles Kings winning the Cup in 2012. He also noted the absurdity of the current format in which teams with the best regular-season records meeting in the second round.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell reported Friday the NHL Players Association is voting this weekend to determine if they’ll extend their deferral of receiving their final paychecks by another month. He considers it a good sign of healthy dialogue between the players and the league, which could bode well for future CBA negotiations.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently singled out some potential CBA changes proposed by several NHL executives during a survey conducted by The Athletic. They include reducing contract term limits and limiting no-trade/no-movement clauses to players 30 and older, as well as addressing signing bonuses and uneven year-to-year salaries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be some sticky issues for both sides to sort out in the next round of CBA talks, but reports for the past two years indicate preliminary discussions were cordial before the pandemic pause. Bear in mind that while some executive will push for those aforementioned changes, there’s no certainty their views are shared among their peers.

With the two sides working closely together to navigate a path toward returning to action, it could lead to a better labor relationship. The league and the players need each other now. They cannot afford another lockout coming out of this current crisis.

TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reports NHL commissioner Gary Bettman would like to place former Oilers and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli with the Arizona Coyotes. Bettman would also like to see former Coyotes captain Shane Doan return to the club in the front office but there are “apparently some bad feelings about how everything ended for him in 2017.”

Simmons claims there’s word NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire interviewed for the general manager’s job with the New Jersey Devils. McGuire denies it. “They have a GM,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Craig Morgan covers the Coyotes for The Athletic. In a recent mailbag segment, he expressed doubt over Chiarelli joining the Coyotes.

PUCKPEDIA: Part One of a three-part player agents poll examined such issues as the minimum age for drafting players, as well as changes to entry-level contracts and arbitration.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Several notable Blue Jackets sidelined by injuries when the schedule was paused will be ready to go if the season resumes this summer. They include defenseman Seth Jones and forwards Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstand, and Alexandre Texier. Winger Josh Anderson (shoulder) could also be ready to return, depending on when play resumes.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2019

An update on NHL CBA talks, the latest on Connor McDavid, the Kings re-sign Adrian Kempe, the latest PTOs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Player Association executive director Donald Fehr said the players haven’t decided if they’ll exercise their early opt-out of the collective bargaining agreement by the Sept. 15 deadline. The PA executive board and other players met in Chicago yesterday for an update on current negotiations with the NHL. No decisions were reached regarding the CBA. Talks with the league continue on Friday.

Fehr said discussions remain pleasant and cordial. “It doesn’t mean there haven’t been disagreements and significant disagreements, but it’s so far at least free from rancor,” he said. “That’s a big improvement.” The PA and the league haven’t discussed a possible extension of the Sept. 15 deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fehr’s statement was essentially status quo. He’s not going to tip the PA’s hand while negotiations with the league are ongoing but also won’t say anything that could put those talks in jeopardy.

Escrow payments likely remain among the “significant disagreements” Fehr was alluding to. Indeed, it’s the biggest, perhaps the only, impediment toward a new agreement or an extension of the current one.

As for extending the PA’s opt-out deadline, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun believes that won’t fly with the league as both sides would have to agree. If so, Sept. 15 remains the next significant milestone.

No certainly Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid will be ready for the start of the season (Photo via NHL Images).

 THE SCORE: Player agent Jeff Jackson can’t say if client Connor McDavid will be fully recovered from a knee injury by the start of the Edmonton Oilers’ season on Oct. 2. The Oilers captain suffered the injury during the final game of the 2018-19 season. Jackson said McDavid hasn’t had any setbacks and is working toward getting ready for the start of training camp next week.

WINNIPEG SUN:Josh Morrissey confirmed contract-extension talks have begun with the Jets. The defenseman is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. “I’d love to get something done. I’d love to play here throughout my career,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After the recent departure of Jacob Trouba, Morrissey’s remarks will be music to the ears of Jets fans. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed center Adrian Kempe to a three-year contract with an annual average value of $2 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise Kempe got a bridge deal. After a promising 37-point rookie campaign in 2017-18, Kempe managed just 28 points last season. Cap Friendly indicates the Kings now have over $74.7 million invested in 23 players for 2019-20.

VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks inked restricted free agent winger Nikolay Goldobin to a one-year, $900K contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is probably Goldobin’s last chance to prove himself as a reliable NHL regular with the Canucks. Another inconsistent effort could turn him into a waiver or trade candidate.

TSN: The Calgary Flames signed forwards Devante Smith-Pelly, Tobias Rieder, Zac Rinaldo, and Alexandre Grenier to professional tryout offers. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers have brought back forward Troy Brouwer on a PTO.

STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: Winger Drew Stafford will attend Minnesota Wild training camp on a professional tryout offer.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano and Colorado Avalanche forward A.J. Greer pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan court to an assault charge stemming from an incident in New York on July 7. Both will be permitted to skip their next court date next month because of their respective travel schedules.

THE SCORE: NBC Sports has removed Pierre McGuire from its No. 1 broadcast team, relegating him to the second game of their doubleheaders. McGuire will be replaced by Brian Boucher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGuire has attracted criticism for his coverage in recent years. The Score observed he was “essentially forced to apologize for a series of awkward on-air exchanges with fellow analyst Kendall Coyne Schofield in January.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and former NHLers Tim Thomas and Brian Gionta are among this year’s inductees into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The taciturn Thomas was part of the conference call with reporters following the announcement, marking his first public statement since his retirement in 2014. He alluded to a “state of nervousness” since his retirement, adding he doesn’t like traveling and prefers to keep his personal life to himself.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 31, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 31, 2019

Game recaps, including Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang reaching career milestones, plus updates on Derick Brassard, Sami Vatanen, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang both reached career milestones in the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Malkin tallied his 600th career assist while Letang set a franchise record for Penguins defenseman with his 108th career goal. Malkin also dropped the gloves with Lightning captain Steven Stamkos. The Penguins skated without center Derick Brassard, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brassard has frequently surfaced in trade rumors of late. Teams with interest in him will be monitoring his status as to the severity of the injury and its potential effect upon his performance. 

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin tallied his 600th career assist in a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images).

Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop had a 30-save shutout performance to blank the Buffalo Sabres 1-0. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the only goal. 

NJ.COM:  New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen was diagnosed with a concussion suffered during Monday’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils also placed blueliner Ben Lovejoy on injured reserve. The Devils also acquired minor-league defenseman Ryan Murphy from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for rearguard Michael Kapla.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers rookie center Brett Howden suffered a knee sprain during Tuesday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He underwent an MRI yesterday and more information could be revealed today. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights recalled goaltender Maxime Legace and defenseman Jake Bischoff from the minors. 

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have assigned rookie forward Michael Rasmussen to the AHL on a conditioning stint. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens forward Mario Roberge is being praised as a hero after rescuing two elderly women from an apartment fire on Jan. 22. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 11, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 11, 2018

Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson collected his 250th career win by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 (Photo via NHL Images).

Game recaps, rosters revealed for 2018 All-Star Game, Coyotes ship Anthony Duclair to the Blackhawks. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Craig Anderson made 45 saves to pick up his 250th career NHL victory as the Ottawa Senators downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3. The Senators held 2-0 and 3-2 leads but the Leafs rallied back twice to tie the game before Tom Pyatt’s game-winning goal late in the third period. 

Devan Dubnyk turned in a 34-save performance backstopping the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Ryan Suter’s goal early in the third period proved to be the game winner.

Four members of the Tampa Bay Lightning – forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, defenseman Victor Hedman and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy – are part of the rosters revealed yesterday for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa Bay. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some eyebrows were raised when stars such as St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko, Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault and Washington’s John Carlson were passed over while those having less than stellar seasons, such as Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson, made the cut. While the 3-on-3 format can make it difficult to fit in suitable players, reputation and name recognition also likely factored into some of these selections. 

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Chicago Blackhawks yesterday traded winger Richard Panik and minor-league forward Laurent Dauphin to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for winger Anthony Duclair and minor-league defenseman Adam Clendening. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was apparently mutual unhappiness between Duclair and the Coyotes’ front office. The 22-year-old had a promising NHL debut in 2015-16 (20 goals, 44 points) but struggled to regain that promising form. He’ll have a good opportunity to get his career back on track with a deeper Blackhawks squad.

Panik, meanwhile, was having a disappointing followup to his career-best 22-goal, 44-point effort last season. The Coyotes were seeking a young veteran forward to replace Duclair. It’ll be interesting to see how well he fits into the younger, struggling Arizona lineup.

The move also freed up invaluable salary-cap space for the Blackhawks, shedding Panik’s two-year, $5.6 million contract for Duclair’s $1.2 million cap hit. The latter is also a restricted free agent this summer, so if he fails to pan out the Hawks aren’t on the hook beyond this season. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Emotions spilled over yesterday during an intense Buffalo Sabres practice as Evander Kane and Justin Falk engaged in a vocal shoving match, with Falk accusing Kane of being “selfish”. Both subsequently downplayed the episode. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given how poorly things are going this season for the Sabres it’s not surprising that there was an on-ice altercation between a couple of players. Some might wonder if this incident might hurt Kane’s trade value. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and it’s assumed he’ll be a highly prized asset as the Feb. 26 trade deadline approaches. However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doubt this will dampen interest in the Sabres winger. 

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of the Sabres, oft-injured defenseman Zach Bogosian will likely be out four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury, while forward Jacob Josefson (lower body) is listed as day-to-day

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets have activated center Alexander Wennberg (back) off injured reserve. 

ESPN.COM: Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens and Peter Chairelli of the Edmonton Oilers are among several NHL general managers Greg Wyshynski considers on the hot seat. 

USA TODAY: NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire was diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer. He underwent successful surgery to remove a cancerous lesion on Jan. 4 and is expected to return to NBC next month to cover the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McGuire in his recovery.