NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2024

Connor McDavid wins the All-Stars skills competition, the Kings fire head coach Todd McLellan and the NHL will return to the 2026 and 2030 Olympics—details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid won the 2024 NHL All-Star skills competition at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, taking home a $1 million check for his efforts. McDavid won four of the eight events for 25 points.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar finished second with 20 points while Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews was third with 18 points. Makar’s teammate Alexandar Georgiev was the top goaltender in the event, earning a check of $100,000.

THE SCORE: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov drew boos from the Toronto fans for what appeared to be a lackadaisical effort on his part during the passing and stickhandling events. He finished with 0.5 points through four events before being eliminated.

MAYOR’S MANOR: The Los Angeles Kings fired head coach Todd McLellan on Friday and promoted assistant coach Jim Hiller as his replacement on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McLellan is the sixth NHL head coach to lose his job this season. He received a vote of confidence from general manager Rob Blake last month. However, the club’s ongoing slump couldn’t be overlooked any longer as it threatens to derail their season.

Changing the head coach is the easiest go-to for the general manager of a struggling team, especially one that lacks sufficient salary-cap space to make a trade or two to improve the roster.

Nevertheless, Blake isn’t escaping unscathed from this.

The Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott and The Athletic’s Eric Stephens believe the Kings GM deserves his share of the blame for constructing a dysfunctional roster.

Elliott and Stephens pointed to the divisions in the dressing room as well as the Kings’ lack of scoring punch and inadequate goaltending. They singled out the indifferent play of Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Kings’ big-ticket acquisition last summer whose performance has been disappointing thus far. Trading away Sean Durzi, Alex Iafallo and Gabriel Vilardi last year also hurt their roster depth.

If Hiller reverses the Kings fortunes it’ll buy Blake time to reexamine his roster and make adjustments accordingly. If things remain the same or worsen it’ll cast the Kings GM into a much harsher spotlight, raising questions about his future in Los Angeles.

NHL.COM: League Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the NHL will return to the Winter Olympics in 2026 and 2030. The last time the league participated in the Winter Games was in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The return to the Olympics was part of the league’s 2020 memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the NHL Players Association extending the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to 2026. Participation in the 2030 games is an olive branch to the PA for the league’s decision not to participate in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China, over COVID-19 concerns.

Bettman also announced a four-nation tournament involving NHL players from Canada, the United States, Finland and Sweden from Feb. 12-20, 2025. It will be held in two North American cities, one in Canada and one in the United States, with the locations to be announced at a later date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reason behind this “appetizer” (as Bettman called it) is based on the NHL’s stance against Russia over that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

The NHL could’ve fleshed this out into a six-team tournament by following their template from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Smaller European countries such as Germany, Czechia and Slovakia formed Team Europe while North American players 23 and younger skated as Team North America. Team Europe reached the 2016 World Cup Final while Team North America became a fan favorite because of their exciting play.

Instead, we get a half-baked warm-up tournament without superstars such as Leon Draisaitl and David Pastrnak. I’ll cover it because it’s my job but I am not enthusiastic about it. I’m looking forward to the true international best-on-best hockey in the next two Winter Olympics.

NHL.COM: Bettman said he doesn’t believe the four NHL players facing charges over an alleged sexual assault in 2018 as members of Canada’s World Junior team will return to the league this season.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart, Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube and New Jersey Devils players Michael McLeod and Cal Foote are on indefinite leave of absence from their respective teams. They each face one charge of sexual assault while McLeod faces an additional charge.

Alex Formenton, whose rights belong to the Ottawa Senators, has also been charged. He’s been playing in Switzerland since last season and is also on a leave of absence from his club.

Bettman confirmed the four players are still being paid by their respective teams. He also said the league conducted its own investigation into the alleged incident but wouldn’t comment on whether it yielded a conclusion of wrongdoing by the players.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league wouldn’t be releasing the results of its findings while charges are pending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The four players could end up being banned from the NHL and their contracts terminated for violating the league’s and their teams’ respective codes of conduct. However, any such action will likely wait until the completion of their trial and a verdict has been issued.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Bettman and NHLPA executive director Marty Walsh gave conflicting views on the Arizona Coyotes’ efforts to find a new arena site.

Bettman said he was “reasonably confident” that the club’s ownership could announce a new location within the next several weeks. However, Walsh said he was “extremely disappointed” in the Coyotes’ efforts, calling for the franchise to be relocated to a new city if a plan wasn’t in place by the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Arizona Republic’s Stacey Barchenger reported yesterday evening that Coyotes ownership confirmed they are applying to buy about 200 acres of state trust land in North Phoenix. However, they stress they’re still considering all options and aren’t yet ready to announce which one they’ll pursue as their primary location. The soap opera continues…

DAILY FACEOFF: Bettman also confirmed that Corey Perry has a grievance pending with the Chicago Blackhawks over his contract termination on Nov. 30 but it has yet to be filed.

The 38-year-old winger’s contract was terminated over an alcohol-fueled incident that included Blackhawks employees and corporate partners. Perry signed a one-year, prorated contract last month with the Edmonton Oilers.

NYI HOCKEY NOW/NEW YORK POST: The Islanders have placed forward Julien Gauthier on waivers. They also hired Benoit Desrosiers as an assistant coach. He worked with Islanders head coach Patrick Roy for six seasons with the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, winning the Memorial Cup in 2023.

KLTV: A Franklin County, Texas jury found former NHL player Mike Ribeiro not guilty of two counts of sexual assault and was deadlocked over a third count of attempted sexual assault. It’s not yet clear if he’ll be retired on the third charge. Ribeiro played for the Dallas Stars from 2006 to 2011.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Former Bruins goaltender Blaine Lacher passed away suddenly in Medicine Hat, Alberta on Jan. 29 at the age of 54. He played two seasons with the Bruins from 1994-95 to 1995-96 with a career record of 22 wins, 16 losses and four overtime losses with a 2.80 goals-against average, a save percentage of .887 and four shutouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Lacher’s family, friends, former teammates and coaches.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 25, 2024

Nathan MacKinnon regains the scoring lead with a four-goal performance, five members of Canada’s 2018 WJC team face sexual assault charges, Salt Lake City expresses interest in an expansion franchise, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon regained the lead in the NHL scoring race with a four-goal performance in a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. MacKinnon also collected an assist for 82 points, two ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and four assists while Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for the 31-14-3 Avalanche, who sit fourth in the overall standings with 65 points. Dylan Strome scored both goals for the 22-18-6 Capitals (50 points), who sit three points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche extended their home point streak to a franchise-record 24 games. Makar netted his 76th career goal to become the franchise’s all-time leading goalscorer among defensemen. Meanwhile, Avs blueliner Jack Johnson missed this game with an undisclosed injury.

Florida Panthers head coach Paul Maurice took over sole possession of second place for most games by an NHL coach with 1,813 as his club beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-2. Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to 11 games while Matthew Tkachuk had two goals and an assist for the Panthers (29-14-4), who sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 62 points. Dylan Guenther had a goal and an assist for the 23-20-3 Coyotes (49 points) as they sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov collected an assist as he returned to action after being sidelined for three games by a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 32 saves for his second shutout of the season in a 1-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Auston Matthews scored in overtime to collect his league-leading 39th goal of the season as his Maple Leafs (24-14-8) regained third place in the Atlantic Division with 56 points. Laurent Brossoit stopped 29 shots for the 30-11-6 Jets as they sit third in the overall standings with 65 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a big win for Samsonov, whose struggles in December saw him briefly demoted to the Leafs’ AHL affiliate. He was touched by Leafs fans chanting his name, admitting he was nearly brought to tears. Meanwhile, Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey left this game with a leg injury after blocking a shot by Leafs forward Matthew Knies.

The St. Louis Blues picked up their third straight win with a 4-3 overtime upset of the Vancouver Canucks. Brayden Schenn tallied the winning goal after his club blew a 3-1 while Jake Neighbours had a goal and an assist for the 24-20-8 Blues (50 points), who sit one point out of the final Western wild-card berth. Pius Suter had a hat trick for the Canucks (32-11-5) as they remain in first place in the overall standings with 69 points.

A late goal by Jordan Martinook lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Boston Bruins by a score of 3-2. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points for the Hurricanes (26-15-5), who moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points. Brad Marchand scored both goals for the 29-9-9 Bruins as they remain in second place in the overall standings with 67 points.

The Buffalo Sabres overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 5-3 upset victory over the Los Angeles Kings. JJ Peterka scored twice and collected an assist while Jack Quinn had a goal and two assists for the 21-23-4 Sabres. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings (22-14-9) as they hold the first Western wild-card berth with 53 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings have won just twice in their last 10 games. Head coach Todd McLellan blasted his players following this match. “The stupidity that went into that loss is beyond explanation,” he said. Asked about his job security, McLellan replied that it was “a very fair question.” Kings general manager Rob Blake recently gave him a vote of confidence but that could change if this club fails to snap out of its funk.

Seattle Kraken winger Tomas Tatar scored two goals as his club beat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann each collected two points as the Kraken (20-18-9) sit two points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 49 points. Seth Jones had two assists for the 14-32-2 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Blackhawks announced they’d reached an agreement with goaltender Petr Mrazek on a two-year contract extension. He’ll earn an average annual value of $4.25 million.

HEADLINES

TSN: Five members of Canada’s 2018 World Juniors team have been ordered to report to London, Ontario police to face charges of sexual assault. London police announced they would hold a press conference on Feb. 5 to share further details.

The charges are related to an alleged sexual assault in June 2018 involving the players, who have a set time to report to the police.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils forward Michael McLeod and defenseman Cal Foote have taken indefinite leaves of absence from the team. The club indicated it has no further comment at this time.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators’ unsigned winger Alex Formenton has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his Swiss team where he’s played since last season. The club declined to comment on the matter.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers GM Daniel Briere made a statement yesterday regarding the indefinite leave of absence by goaltender Carter Hart. He acknowledged the reports regarding the five unnamed players of Canada’s 2018 WJC team but said neither he nor the Flyers would make any comment until the results of the investigation are released.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary Flames winger Dillon Dube is also on an indefinite leave of absence for what the club deemed mental health reasons. Nevertheless, it’s assumed by hockey fans on social media that Dube, Hart, Formenton, McLeod and Foote are the five players sought by London police. We’ll know for certain by Feb. 5.

DAILY FACEOFF: In a release shared with NHL media yesterday, the Smith Entertainment Group formally requested that the league begin the process of bringing an expansion team to Salt Lake City. The ownership group owns the NBA’s Utah Jazz and has talked with the NHL about an expansion club since 2022. The club would play in the Jazz’s current arena until a new venue is constructed at a later date.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Salt Lake City has a long hockey history with minor league teams playing there over the years. They also hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics.

SPORTSNET: In an interview with The Athletic, NHL Players Association executive director Marty Walsh said the clock is ticking on the ownership of the Arizona Coyotes as they continue efforts to find a location to build a new arena. At the most recent NHL Board of Governors’ meetings, Commissioner Gary Bettman said the Coyotes ownership had until the end of January to finalize a new plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh’s comments combined with the news of the Utah Jazz ownership’s interest in an expansion franchise looks like a warning shot to Coyotes ownership. If they don’t soon get their plans for a new arena project sorted out, the league’s patience could finally run out. If so, this franchise could end up sold and moved to Salt Lake City.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames placed center Adam Ruzicka and defenseman Nick DeSimone on waivers.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators re-signed forward Cole Smith to a two-year contract extension with an AAV of $775K.

KLTV: Former NHL player Mike Ribeiro is on trial in Franklin County, Texas. He allegedly sexually assaulted two women on June 23, 2021, and attempted to assault another.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2024

The Oilers’ win streak continues, Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak and T.J. Oshie enjoy hat-trick performances and Kings coach Todd McLellan gets a vote of confidence from management. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers tied the 1967-68 Montreal Canadiens for the longest win streak by a Canadian team (12 games) with a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Warren Foegele scored two goals while Leon Draisaitl had a goal and three assists for the 25-15-1 Oilers, who overcame a 2-0 deficit to vault over the Los Angeles Kings into third place in the Pacific Division with 51 points. Eeli Tolvanen and Jared McCann scored for the 19-17-9 Kraken (47 points), who dropped their third straight game and sit three points behind the Kings for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have staged a remarkable surge up the standings in the past month. When they suffered their last loss (3-1 to the New York Islanders on Dec. 19), the Oilers had the fourth-worst record in the Western Conference (13-15-1, 27 points), sitting seven points out of a wild-card spot and only six points ahead of the bottom-feeding San Jose Sharks.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick and collected an assist as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit to hold off the Calgary Flames 4-3. William Nylander picked up two assists for the 22-13-8 Leafs, who regained third place in the Atlantic Division with 52 points. Jonathan Huberdeau had two assists for the 21-19-35 Flames (47 points), who sit three points out of the final Western wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 37 goals, Matthews expanded his league in the goal-scoring lead by four over Florida’s Sam Reinhart. Meanwhile, Flames center Martin Pospisil left this game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

The Boston Bruins defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on a hat trick by winger David Pastrnak, who sits third in the goal-scoring race with 29. Jeremy Swayman made 30 saves for the Bruins (27-8-9), who sit second in the overall standings with 63 points. Nathan MacKinnon scored to extend his points streak to 10 games as the Avalanche (29-14-3) sit second in the Central Division with 61 points.

A hat trick by T.J. Oshie powered the Washington Capitals over the St. Louis Blues by a score of 5-2. Max Pacioretty, John Carlsson and Dylan Strome each had two points for the 22-15-6 Capitals (50 points), who sit one point out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Nathan Walker scored both goals for the 21-20-2 Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected an assist after returning from a three-game absence dealing with a nagging lower-body injury.

The Nashville Predators got a 33-save performance by Juuse Saros in a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings, who have dropped 10 of their last 11 games. Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist for the Predators (25-19-1) as they hold the first Western wild-card spot with 51 points. Drew Doughty replied for the 21-13-8 Kings, who hold the final wild card spot with 50 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, Kings general manager Rob Blake gave head coach Todd McLellan a vote of confidence. He expects the solution to his club’s struggles will come internally from his players. However, Blake’s faith in McLellan will be put to the test if the Kings fail to improve over the next few weeks, especially if the club slips out of a playoff berth.

Elias Pettersson and Dakota Joshua scored as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Arizona Coyotes 2-1, becoming the first team this season to reach the 30-win mark (30-11-4). Thatcher Demko turned aside 20 shots for the Canucks as they sit atop the overall standings with 64 points. Travis Dermott scored for the 21-19-3 Coyotes.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman had a goal and three assists as his club tamed the Minnesota Wild 7-3. Nikita Kucherov collected three assists to become the first player this season to reach 75 points while Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli each had three points for the 23-17-5 Lightning, who hold the final Eastern wild-card berth with 51 points. Marco Rossi had a goal and an assist for the 18-21-5 Wild, who announced before the game that team captain Jared Spurgeon will miss the remainder of the season with hip and back injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spurgeon undergoes hip surgery on Feb. 6 followed by back surgery four weeks later. Speaking of the Lightning, scout and former player Tony Hrkac saved a man from choking on a pretzel during a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. He applied the Heimlich maneuver and saved the man’s life.

The Philadelphia Flyers downed the Dallas Stars 5-1 for their fifth straight victory. Owen Tippett tallied twice while Morgan Frost had two assists for the 25-14-6 Flyers (56 points) as they sit two points behind the first-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. Tyler Seguin netted the only goal for the Stars (26-13-5) as they sit third in the Central Division with 57 points.

Speaking of the Rangers, they dropped a 5-1 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Ivan Barbashev scored two goals, Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and an assist while Logan Thompson stopped 29 shots for the 26-14-5 Golden Knights, who sit second in the Pacific Division with 57 points. Mika Zibanejad scored for the 28-14-2 Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights winger Michael Amadio missed this game with an upper-body injury.

The Ottawa Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-2. Tim Stutzle led the way for the 16-24-0 Senators with a goal and two assists. Cole Caufield netted his 15th goal of the season for the Canadiens as they slipped to 19-19-7 on the season.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 20 saves for his second straight shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Rasmus Dahlin scored his 13th goal of the season for the 20-21-4 Sabres. Arvid Soderblom stopped 28 shots for the 13-30-2 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres played without forward Dylan Cozens as he’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2024

The Oilers and Kraken maintain their win streaks while the Jets’ and Panthers’ streaks come to an end and the final 12 players are announced for the All-Star Game. Details and more from a busy Saturday in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers set a franchise record with their 10th consecutive win by nipping the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on an overtime power-play goal by Evan Bouchard. Leon Draisaitl tied the game in the third period for the Oilers (23-15-1) as they hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 47 points. Sam Montembeault stopped 39 shots and Cole Caufield scored for the 17-18-7 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens called up Joshua Roy from their AHL affiliate in Laval to replace sidelined winger Josh Anderson.

Seattle Kraken winger Jared McCann scored twice and added an assist as his club won their franchise-record ninth straight contest by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-4, extending their points streak to 13 games. Joey Daccord made 30 saves for his eighth straight win while Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and two assists for the 19-14-9 Kraken, who sit just behind the Oilers with 47 points. Ivan Provorov tallied twice for the 13-21-9 Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets made rookie defenseman David Jiricek a healthy scratch from this contest.

The Winnipeg Jets’ eight-game win streak came to an end as they fell 2-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers. Samuel Ersson made 35 saves for the shutout while Cam Atkinson scored twice to snap his goalless streak that stretched back to Nov. 11. With a record of 23-14-6, the Flyers sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 52 points. Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 34 shots for the 28-10-4 Jets, as they slipped into second place in the overall standings with 60 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers played without Jamie Drysdale (illness) and Sean Couturier (“minor injury”) while Jets center Mark Scheifele sat out with a lower-body injury.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko made 26 saves to blank the Buffalo Sabres 1-0. Sam Lafferty netted the only goal for the 29-11-3 Canucks for their fifth straight win as they vaulted over the Jets into first overall with 61 points. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 22 shots for the 18-21-4 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres defenseman Mattias Samuelsson left the game in the second period after taking an elbow in the face from Canucks blueliner Filip Hronek.

A 36-save performance by Nico Daws carried the New Jersey Devils over the Florida Panthers 4-1, snapping the latter’s nine-game win streak. Jesper Bratt scored what proved to be the game-winner for the 22-15-3 Devils (47 points) as they sit one point out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Sam Reinhart extended his goal streak to six games for the Panthers (27-13-2) as they sit second in the Eastern Conference with 56 points.

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (NHL Images).

An overtime goal by Charlie McAvoy gave the Boston Bruins a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. McAvoy and Brad Marchand each had two goals for the 25-8-9 Bruins, who sit first overall in the Eastern Conference with 59 points. Jordan Binnington stopped 31 shots for the 21-18-2 Blues, who are three points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 44 points.

Third-period goals by Nic Dowd and T.J. Oshie lifted the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers 3-2, leaving the latter winless in their last four games (0-3-1). Charlie Lindgren made 25 saves for the 20-14-6 Capitals (46 points) as they sit two points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Adam Fox tallied both goals for the Rangers (26-13-2) as they hold first place in the Metropolitan Division with 54 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed this game with a lower-body injury.

The Carolina Hurricanes extended their points streak to eight games by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime tally by Brett Pesce, who finished the game with two goals. Antti Raanta made 38 saves for the 24-13-5 Hurricanes (53) as they sit one point back of the Rangers in the Metro Division. Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (20-15-6) as they sit two points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 46 points.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin scored two goals to lead his club to a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, extending the latter’s winless skid to eight games (0-4-4). Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist while Alex Lyon stopped 33 shots for the 21-16-5 Red Wings (47 points), who are one point out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Quinton Byfield scored two goals for the 20-11-8 Kings, who remain third in the Pacific Division with 48 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kings head coach Todd McLellan is facing the heat from the club’s fans as they chanted for him to be fired. They could get their wish if the Kings don’t soon reverse their current slide.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos tallied twice to beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Nikita Kucherov collected three assists to remain the league’s scoring leader with 72 points as his club improved to 22-17-5 and sit in the first Eastern wild-card spot with 49 points. Lukas Dostol turned aside 36 shots for the 14-27-1 Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak missed this game with an upper-body injury.

Five unanswered goals rallied the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Jonathan Drouin and Ross Colton each had a goal and an assist for the 28-12-3 Avalanche (59 points) as they sit one point behind the first-place Jets in the Central Division. Martin Jones stopped 28 shots for the 21-11-8 Leafs as they sit third in the Atlantic Division with 50 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson returned to action after missing the last two games with an undisclosed injury.

The Dallas Stars netted three unanswered third-period goals in a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Goalie Jake Oettinger picked up the win for Dallas after Scott Wedgewood left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. With a record of 25-12-2, the Stars are third in the Central Division with 55 points. Petr Mrazek stopped 27 shots for the 12-29-2 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a shoulder injury.

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Connor Ingram made 38 saves for his fifth shutout of the season in a 6-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. Nick Bjugstad had a hat trick as the Coyotes (21-18-2) moved to within three points of a Western wild-card spot with 44 points. Goaltender Filip Gustavsson and winger Kirill Kaprizov returned to action for the 17-20-5 Wild after missing several games with injuries.

The Nashville Predators defeated the New York Islanders 3-1 on late goals by Alexandre Carrier and Juuso Parssinen. Juuse Saros stopped 24 shots for the 24-18-1 Predators as they hold the first Western wild-card berth with 49 points. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Islanders (19-13-10) as they cling to the final Eastern wild-card spot with 48 points.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 31 saves while Blake Coleman had a goal and an assist to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1. Chandler Stephenson had the only goal for the Golden Knights (24-14-5) as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 53 points. The Flames improved to 20-18-5 (45 points) to move within two points of the final Western wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights center Jack Eichel missed this contest with an undisclosed injury.

The Ottawa Senators ended a five-game losing skid with a 5-4 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Vladimir Tarasenko tallied the game-winner with five seconds remaining in the third period while Artem Zub picked up three assists for the 15-23-0 Senators. MacKenzie Blackwood kicked out 36 shots while Mario Ferraro had three assists for the 10-30-3 Sharks, who’ve lost 13 of their last 14 games.

DAILY FACEOFF: Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly and Vancouver Canucks Elias Pettersson, JT Miller, Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko have been named to the 2024 NHL All-Star Game as voted by the fans. The others included Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman, Florida Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, Colorado Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 6, 2023

The Ducks finally sign Jamie Drysdale, the Kings extend coach Todd McLellan’s contract, recaps of Thursday’s preseason action, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

HEADLINES

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Jamie Drysdale to a three-year, $6.9 million contract. The average annual value is $2.3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with Trevor Zegras, Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek gets Drysdale signed to a team-friendly bridge contract. The 21-year-old defenseman had little leverage coming off his entry-level contract. Should he and Zegras improve as projected, they’ll be well-situated to command much more lucrative terms on their next contracts.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Los Angeles Kings have extended the contract of head coach Todd McLellan to the end of the 2024-25 season. He’s entering his fifth season behind the Kings bench, guiding them to the playoffs in 2022 and 2023.

Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings have made steady improvement under McLellan, finishing with 99 points in 2021-22 and 104 points in 2022-23. However, they’ve fallen in the first round of the playoffs in both seasons to the Edmonton Oilers. McLellan’s long-term future with the Kings will depend on their performance this season and next.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Kings, forward Arthur Kaliyev has been suspended for two preseason games and two regular-season games by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Anaheim Ducks forward Chase De Leo. The latter suffered a sprained MCL and will be sidelined for eight weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The punishment hardly seems to fit the crime. I think any player who deliberately injures another should be suspended for as long as the player he injured is sidelined. However, there’s also that grey area of determining intent or whether it was accidental. Besides, such a harsh punishment for a superstar probably wouldn’t go over well with fans and pundits.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture is considered a long shot to be in the lineup for the club’s season-opener next week. The 34-year-old center is considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks already faced a challenging season as management rebuilds, er, sorry, “retools” its roster. Losing Couture to injury to start this campaign was the last thing they needed.

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud underwent surgery for an upper-body injury and is listed as week-to-week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big blow to the Golden Knight’s blueline. It’s also the third straight season that Whitecloud has been sidelined by a significant injury. He was limited to 59 games in each of the last two seasons.

SPORTSNET: The city of Calgary unveiled a preliminary deal for a $1.2 billion event center and entertainment district near the city’s downtown. It includes an $800 million arena for the Flames. Construction will reportedly begin in 2024 and the arena is expected to be opened in 2026 or 2027.

The province of Alberta will contribute $330 million to the project while the city of Calgary will contribute $537 million. The Flames will pay $40 million upfront and $17 million per year over the course of a 35-year lease with payments rising one percent per year.

PRESEASON GAMES RECAP

NHL.COM: Ryan O’Reilly scored his first preseason goal with the Nashville Predators and collected three assists in a 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Juuse Saros made 40 saves for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Predators, they will honor former general manager David Poile during a pregame ceremony on Nov. 22. Poile retired on July 1 after 40 seasons in the NHL including 25 seasons as the Predators GM.

The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. William Nylander scored twice, including the winner in overtime. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner each had two points for the Leafs. Shayne Gostisbehere collected two assists for the Wings.

Florida Panthers center Kevin Stenlund scored two goals in a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for the Lightning.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist as his club downed the New York Islanders 5-2. Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves for the Islanders.

The Washington Capitals doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Riley Sutter netted a shorthanded goal and collected an assist for the Capitals. Spencer Martin stopped 35 shots in his first game for the Jackets since being claimed off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks earlier this week.

Boston Bruins center Matthew Poitras tallied the go-ahead goal in a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman made 22 saves. Kaapo Kakko replied for the Rangers, who finished the preseason with a record of 1-5-0.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington kicked out 24 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0. Robert Thomas tallied twice for the Blues. Jake Oettinger stopped 24 shots for the Stars.

The Ottawa Senators blanked the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 as Anton Forsberg turned in a 21-save shutout. Jakob Chychrun and Josh Bailey each had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Jets defenseman Ville Heinola left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period following a collision with Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heinola suffered the injury to his left leg. “It’s not good,” said Jets coach Rick Bowness following the game. “It’s not a short-term injury.”

A shootout goal by Mats Zuccarello gave the Minnesota Wild a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. A third-period goal by Pat Maroon tied the game for the Wild. Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard was unable to get off a shot during the shootout as he was poke-checked by Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 27 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly victory for the Wild as defenseman Jared Spurgeon left the game in the first period and didn’t return. He will be evaluated today.

An overtime goal by Adrian Kempe lifted the Los Angeles Kings over the San Jose Sharks by a score of 4-3. Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied his first preseason goal for the Kings while Mike Hoffman picked up his first preseason tally for the Sharks.

The Arizona Coyotes downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on a two-goal performance by center Logan Cooley. Ducks goalie John Gibson allowed four goals on 17 shots before leaving the game with an apparent hand injury.

Four unanswered goals by the Vegas Golden Knights gave them a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Alex Pietrangelo had two assists and Logan Thompson kicked out 31 shots for the Golden Knights. Cale Makar and Jonathan Drouin each had two assists for the Avalanche.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: The NHL is reportedly considering hosting the 2024 Draft at The Sphere, a music and entertainment arena just off the Strip in Las Vegas. For the past 30 years, NHL drafts have been primarily held inside the host city’s arena.

THE PROVINCE: Stan Smyl is transitioning out of the Vancouver Canucks front office into a role as a team ambassador. Smyl has been with the Canucks since breaking in as a player 45 years ago, serving in various roles following his playing career. He’s been serving as their vice president since 2021.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: A report indicated Devils chairman and governor David Blitzer is joining the NHL’s executive committee.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes have found a new TV broadcaster, signing a multi-year deal with Scripps Sports to televise all locally broadcasted games. The announcement comes on the same day that the Coyotes and Bally Sports Arizona received approval to terminate their multi-year contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2022

The Lightning defeat the Predators in their Stadium Series, Mitch Marner collects six points in wild Leafs win over the Red Wings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists as his club held off the Nashville Predators 3-2 in their 2022 Stadium Series game before a sellout crowd of 68, 619 fans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots as the Lightning (74 points) moved within a point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak left the game in the first period following a high hit from Nashville center Ryan Johansen. With 64 points, the Predators hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

Mitch Marner enjoyed a career-high six-point performance (four goals, two assists) as his Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Detroit Red Wings 10-7. Austin Matthews tallied his league-leading 37th goal of the season and collected three-assist while rookie Michael Bunting had a goal and four assists. Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek had a four-point night (one goal, three assists) while rookie winger Lucas Raymond scored twice and added an assist. The Leafs sit three points behind the second-place Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At one point, the Leafs led 7-2 before the Wings made it interesting by cutting the lead to 7-6 and then to 8-7 before the Leafs finally put it away. It wasn’t a good night for either club’s defenses or goaltenders. The Leafs’ Jack Campbell gave way to Petr Mrazek after giving up four goals early in the third period while the Wings Alex Nedeljkovic got the hook in the first period but returned in the third.

Edmonton Oilers forward Derek Ryan netted his first career hat trick as his club hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, handing the latter their third-straight defeat. Mikko Koskinen kicked out 44 shots and Connor McDavid collected two assists for the Oilers, who opened a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 61 points. The Panthers (75 points) remain second overall in the Eastern Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Oilers as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the game in the first period with a suspected shoulder injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

The league-leading Colorado Avalanche (82 points) got two unanswered goals by J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon to down the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Darcy Kuemper turned aside 34 shots for the Avs, who sit six points over the Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings. The Golden Knights have just one victory in their last six contests and six in third place in the Pacific Division with 62 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ stumble could force them into the trade market before the March 21 deadline. There’s speculation they’re looking for goaltending help with starter Robin Lehner sidelined by what’s believed to be a shoulder injury.

Speaking of the Pacific Division, the Calgary Flames (68 points) hold a three-point lead over the second-place Los Angeles Kings after thumping the Minnesota Wild 7-3. Matthew Tkachuk and Tyler Toffoli each scored twice and picked up an assist. Flames defenseman Oscar Kylington left the game in the third period after an awkward fall into the boards but head coach Darryl Sutter said he’ll be fine. The Wild sit in third place in the Central Division with 65 points.

The Kings, meanwhile, remain three points behind the Flames by dropping the New York Islanders 5-2 to extend their winning streak to five games. Trevor Moore and Matt Roy each had a goal and an assist while Cal Petersen picked up the win with a 26-save performance. Islanders center Mathew Barzal left the game with a lower-body injury as did Zdeno Chara with an upper-body injury.

Tristan Jarry turned in a 27-save shutout and Evgeni Malkin potted the only goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the New York Rangers 1-0 to snap a three-game losing skid. With 72 points, the Penguins moved one point ahead of the Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored two goals and chipped in an assist to lead his club to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. With 66 points, the Bruins have won four straight and moved one point up on the Washington Capitals into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Sharks have lost 10 of their last 12 and also lost defenseman Mario Ferraro to a leg injury.

As for the Capitals, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Cam Atkinson scored and set up another while Carter Hart made 27 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals hold a 10-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets but they’ve been struggling in recent weeks. There’s talk they could go shopping for a goaltender or a top-six winger before the March 21 trade deadline.

The Montreal Canadiens extended their winning streak to five games by nipping the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Artturi Lehkonen scored both of the Canadiens’ goals while Andrew Hammond made 26 saves against his former team. Colin White scored for the Senators in his season debut after being sidelined by shoulder surgery.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Wayne Gretzky called upon the international hockey world to ban Russia from participating in the 2022 World Junior Championship in Edmonton as a protest over that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Gretzky pointed to Poland’s Men’s soccer team as inspiration as that club intends to boycott its World Cup playoff game against Russia on March 24.

SPORTSNET: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek took to Twitter calling on the NHL to suspend the contracts of all Russian players in the wake of Russia’s actions against Ukraine. He also criticized Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin over his “no more war” remarks on Friday, calling Ovechkin an “ablist” and a “liar” among other pointed comments.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL won’t be suspending the contracts of Russian players. If they did, the NHL Players Association would immediately file grievances against the league. As for Gretzky’s remarks, there’s no indication of what the International Ice Hockey Federation intends to do regarding Russia’s participation in the WJC this summer.

YARDBARKER: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier remains a few weeks away from returning from a finger injury.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju will be sidelined for at least two games with a lower-body injury.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan entered COVID-19 protocol yesterday.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed defensemen Kyle Burroughs and Tucker Poolman on injured reserve.