NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 25, 2021

The Canadiens advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the Seattle Kraken introduce Dave Hakstol as their first head coach, the latest on Nikita Kucherov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. Artturi Lehkonen’s overtime goal gave the Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 to win their best-of-seven series four games to two. Habs goalie Carey Price made 37 saves for the win.

Montreal Canadiens pose with Clarence S. Campbell Bowl after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in six games (NHL.com).

Montreal captain Shea Weber opened the scoring in the first period but Vegas winger Reilly Smith quickly tied it. The Canadiens regained the lead in the second on a Cole Caufield goal but Alec Martinez tallied the equalizer in the third period.

The Canadiens were presented with the Clarence Campbell Bowl, usually awarded to the winner of the Western Conference Final. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve won this award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Canadiens for once again defying the odds and the doubters with another series victory over a very talented opponent. They’ve reached this point thanks to Price’s goaltending, a superior penalty kill, and a strong five-man system based on solid defensive play and a speedy transition game. They’re playing very well and deserve to be where they are.

The Golden Knights’ failure to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year could bring about some roster changes in the offseason. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

The Canadiens now await the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is slated for Monday, June 28.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced Dave Hakstol as their first head coach in franchise history. The former coach of North Dakota in the NCAA, he’s was the bench boss of the Philadelphia Flyers for over three seasons. Hakstol spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hakstol was rarely mentioned in media speculation as a candidate for the Kraken coaching gig. As the Times observed, he did have connections with the Kraken front office. He worked with general manager Ron Francis during their tenure with Team Canada at the 2019 World Championships. Jason Botterill was the GM of that squad and now works as an assistant general manager with the Kraken.

NHL.COM: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov’s status for Game 7 against the Islanders remains unknown. He left early in Game 6 with an undisclosed injury following a cross-check from Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield and hitting Mathew Barzal as his shift was ending. He’s this postseason’s leading scorer with 27 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning played with Kucherov throughout the regular season so they shouldn’t have much difficulty adjusting without him. Still, the potential absence of their leading scorer could be a crucial factor tonight.

ESPN.COM: Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier will join ESPN as a studio analyst beginning next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I wonder if he’ll accept cold calls

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed Blake Lizotte to a one-year, $800K contract extension.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed center Rhett Gardner to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson will have a third interview with the Arizona Coyotes for their head-coaching position. More talks could also be in store with Ottawa 67s coach Andre Tourigny.

St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn and Providence Bruins coach Jay Leach are no longer in the running for the job.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 6, 2021

What next for the Rangers following yesterday’s front-office purge? Could Rasmus Sandin’s emergence on the Leafs’ blueline lead to a Morgan Rielly trade? Which Sharks forwards could end up on this summer’s trade block? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker believes the New York Rangers replacing team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton yesterday with Chris Drury indicates ownership wants the current roster reconstruction wrapped up quickly. Drury will be expected to turn the Rangers into a Stanley Cup contender as soon as possible. Reaching the playoffs was a goal this season but will become a requirement in 2021-22.

New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Rangers GM Glen Sather will be working with Drury in a consulting role. Sather was well known for his wheeling and dealing during his long management career. He would prove useful if ownership pressures Drury to explore this summer’s trade and free-agent markets to accelerate the rebuild.

The incident earlier this week with Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson showed a glaring need for more grit in the New York Rangers’ lineup. The club is expected to address its lack of experienced and heavy skaters in the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers have considerable depth in young players and prospects to use as trade bait to address that need. Cap Friendly indicates they have $55.6 million invested in 17 players, giving Drury sufficient cap space to target teams looking to shed salary this summer or to pursue unrestricted free agents.

Walker also reported former Rangers captain Mark Messier yesterday told ESPN NY radio he’s ready to help the club any way he can. He believes “One thousand percent” he could coach despite having no prior experience.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I admire Messier’s confidence. However, the Rangers will need an experienced, respected bench boss if they replace David Quinn as head coach. Messier doesn’t tick that box.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran recently suggested the emergence of Rasmus Sandin on the Maple Leafs’ blueline could make things a little uncomfortable for Morgan Rielly. If the club develops faith in Sandin, trading Rielly and his $5 million cap hit for next season to free up money to re-sign Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen could become an option.

McGran feels Rielly could fetch a return comparable to the first-round pick and prospect the Leafs got for shipping Kaspari Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, the blueliner would be safe if Andersen isn’t re-signed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGran’s just spitballing here. I don’t think Rielly’s got anything to worry about. I’ll be very surprised if the Leafs bring back Andersen. They’ll likely stick with Jack Campbell as their starter and seek a reliable, affordable backup for him in the offseason.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz suggests San Jose Sharks forwards Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc could become expendable after being pushed out of the top-six at times in recent weeks. He speculates one or both could be moved out this summer, perhaps in pursuit of an effective third-line center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meier’s got a $6 million annual salary-cap hit through 2022-23 while Labanc’s is $4725 million annually through 2023-24. Those contracts could prove tough to move with the salary cap staying around $81.5 million next season. It’s not impossible to move them but it could be more of a dollar-in, dollar-out scenario or perhaps the Sharks will have to retain some salary in the deals.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2020

Updates on negotiations for the 2020-21 season, two people arrested for stealing Wayne Gretzky memorabilia, Mark Messier loses money on a cannabis investment deal, the latest on Oskar Lindblom and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports issues such as roster size and taxi squads are slowing down negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA aimed at starting the 2020-21 season on Jan. 13. Frank Seravalli said the effect on the salary cap of transferring a player between the roster and the taxi squad is also part of the discussion. At this point, it would be handled similar to the rules regarding a demotion to the AHL.

Pierre LeBrun points out teams are at the mercy of local health restrictions, especially in Canada. As of Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators each have over 30 players that have returned, while the Winnipeg Jets have nine, the Montreal Canadiens under 10, the Edmonton Oilers have 12 and the Calgary Flames 26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those health restrictions vary from city to city and province to province. It’s affecting quarantine rules and use of training facilities, which could explain why the Jets and Canadiens have a low number of players in their respective cities.

Dreger reports the league is looking into allowing a limited number of fans to attend games in select markets depending on the restrictions of each city in each state. Seravalli points out that will be only if the league can open in all 31 of its cities. That remains in doubt as some teams, like the San Jose Sharks, are planning to open training camp in Arizona because of restrictions in their own market.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater reports sources are saying the concept of hub cities is no longer on the drawing board. He said each team will play their regular-season home games in their own buildings with travel limited only to games within a team’s division.

Because of the new COVID-19 vaccines, the NHL feels confident it can stage a regular season in which teams travel from city to city despite the strict protocols. The league remains adamant it will not attempt to jump the queue to obtain vaccinations ahead of others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This NH season is going to open but the projected Jan. 13 start date could change. A vote approving the format for ’20-’21 needs a vote of approval by the league board of governors and the NHLPA’s 31-member executive. It’s required by the end of this week to meet the timeline for a Jan. 13 start. That date could be pushed into late January if more time is required to work out the details.

SPORTSNET: Two people were arrested by Brantford, Ontario police after Wayne Gretzky memorabilia was stolen from his father’s home. A three-month investigation involving searches of homes in Ontario and Alberta by police (including the RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police) recovered several items with an estimated combined value of over $500K USD. The investigation is ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walter Gretzky is the world’s most famous hockey dad and among the kindest people in hockey. Shame on those people for stealing from him.

YAHOO SPORTS: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier is suing the CEO of an Alberta cannabis company after he allegedly lost his $500K investment. Messier claimed the company also used his celebrity to raise $30 million in funding.

THE SCORE: Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom is cancer-free just over a year after being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. He finished his treatments on July 2 and suited up with the Flyers in the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Lindblom enjoys a long, cancer-free life.

TSN: cites The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting the Minnesota Wild are close to signing free-agent goaltender Andrew Hammond. He speculates this could mean Wild backup Alex Stalock could be hurt entering training camp. Stalock reportedly hasn’t been on the ice.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Former San Jose Sharks forward Melker Karlsson has signed with Swedish club Skelleftea AIK for the remainder of the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication if Karlsson has an out-clause if he signs with an NHL club. The report indicating it’s for the remainder of the season suggests he didn’t get any NHL offers to his liking. The flattened salary cap for this season could be a factor, which doesn’t bode well for comparable players still available in the UFA market.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues have promoted Ryan Miller (no, not the NHL goaltender) as their new assistant general manager.

WHL.COM: The Western Hockey League has delayed the start of its 2020-21 season because of public health restrictions across Western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest. The board of governors will meet in January to discuss possible start dates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could affect the development of WHL players hoping to be selected in the 2021 NHL Draft.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby celebrates one of his two goals against the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.

Game recaps, Messier Leadership Award finalists revealed & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby scored twice and Nick Bonino netted the game winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 1 of the second-round series. Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves for the win. Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored for the Capitals. 

Erik Karlsson’s late third-goal gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the first game of their second-round series. The goaltending was superb as the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist made 41 saves and the Senators’ Craig Anderson kicked out 34. The game wasn’t a sellout, as there was almost 2,500 empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre. 

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano and Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf are this year’s finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award

ESPN.COM: Nashville Predators forward Kevin Fiala suffered a broken left femur in Game 1 of his club’s second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defensemen Kevin Bieksa (lower-body injury) and Sami Vatanen (upper-body injury) remain questionable for Game 2 of their club’s series against the Edmonton Oilers. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed center Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $700K contract. Janmark, 24, missed the entire season recovering from a rare bone condition called osteochondritis dissecans.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes have fired assistant coach Newell Brown and Tucson Roadrunners GM Doug Soetaert. “The contracts for pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque would not be renewed.”

TSN.CA: The NHL lost its bid to force CTE researchers to hand over medical data related to their research which included six former NHL players.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Former Detroit Red Wings team doctor John Finley passed away at age 88. He was the Wings doctor from 1957 to 2002. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Condolences to Finley’s family, friends and the Wings organization.