NHL Could Face A Reckoning on CTE
The latest on the CBA negotiations, Stan Mikita had Stage III CTE, an update on Mitch Marner’s new contract, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang examined the key issues in the NHL CBA talks as the NHLPA face tomorrow’s deadline to opt-out of the current agreement next September. Escrow calculations and post-career health care are of primary concern for the players. Strang also reports sources saying the league would like to address signing bonuses and front-loaded contracts, citing a competitive advantage to big-budget teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hands up everyone who isn’t surprised the league has concerns about those signing bonus and front-loaded contract loopholes. Critics of the current CBA saw these issues coming for a while now. Strang said it’s unknown if those will be sticking-point issues.
The PA has until tomorrow (Sept. 15) to exercise their early-out option. If they don’t, the current agreement expires on Sept. 2022, unless the PA and the league hammer out a CBA extension before then.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: A posthumous study of Hall-of-Famer Stan Mikita’s brain revealed he suffered from Stage IIIchronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head. Mikita passed away on Aug. 7, 2018. “Mikita is the eighth former NHL player diagnosed with CTE at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank, a list that also includes Derek Boogaard, Bob Probert, and Reggie Fleming.” The NHL continues to reject any link to hockey and CTE injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe the reason the NHL refuses to acknowledge that link is because of the costs they’ll face in compensation to former players suffering from CTE. The evidence, however, is mounting against the league. At some point, it will have no choice but to seriously address this issue.
TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran reports nearly $61 million of Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner’s new six-year, $65.3-million contract will be paid out in signing bonuses. The bonuses provides a measure of insurance for Marner to get paid in the event of another NHL lockout as those must be paid in full every July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner’s contract is likely a fine example of the type the league wants to address with the PA in CBA talks.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was granted a leave of absence from training camp for personal reasons. Head coach Paul Maurice downplayed the situation, claiming there’s “nothing sinister” about it. There’s no indication how long he’ll be away.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Corey Perry will miss at least two weeks with a fractured foot. He suffered the injury on Wednesday after tripping on a step and rolling his foot. Meanwhile, defenseman Stephen Johns remains sidelined indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms.
The Anaheim Ducks yesterday announced forward Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will miss the entire 2019-20 season.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka revealed defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is day-to-day following a minor procedure over the summer to “clean up a previous injury.”
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian will miss training camp as he continues to recover from off-season hip surgery.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks forward Jake Virtanen is in head coach Travis Green’s doghouse after failing his physical exam. His conditioning is believed to be the issue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a good start for Virtanen. He’s in the final season of a two-year contract and likely on a very short leash with Green.
Told there is currently wide gulf between Rangers and DeAngelo. NYR don’t seem inclined to move off same $925,000 for which Lemieux signed. Puck is in the defenseman’s end.
— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) September 13, 2019
An update on Max Pacioretty, Blackhawks fans say goodbye to Stan Mikita, latest on Brady Tkachuk and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Facing an uncertain future with the Canadiens, left wing Max Pacioretty said he’s encouraged by the support he’s received from Montreal fans throughout this summer. Pacioretty, 29, resides year-round in Montreal. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July and the coming season could be his last with the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty reportedly wants to re-sign with the Canadiens, who made a failed attempt during the 2018 NHL Draft to trade him to the Los Angeles Kings. He lacks no-trade protection and speculation persists that management intends to move him before the start of the season.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Devoted Blackhawks fans streamed to the United Center yesterday to pay their respects to Stan Mikita during a public visitation. Mikita passed away last week at age 78 to a suspected brain disease.
OTTAWA SUN: While there’s been no official announcement from prospect Brady Tkachuk or the Senators, a photo of the youngster wearing a Sens hat signing paperwork made the rounds online yesterday. Tkachuk is believed foregoing a return to Boston University this season to sign a pro contract with Ottawa.
NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Luke Kunin is hoping to bounce back from a torn ACL suffered last March to earn a full-time roster spot.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley hopes to make his club’s pregame ceremonies “a little less playful and a little more serious this year.” He added that he loves “the “Apocalypse Now” intro with the music and the helicopter. I like it as loud as possible. And the “John Wick Mode” intro song is perfect, and we won’t be changing that.”
The 30th anniversary of the Gretzky Trade, plus updates on Ryan Suter, Brock Boeser, Dylan Larkin and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Today marks the 30th anniversary of the trade that sent Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. The move left a long-lasting impact upon the NHL and the sport. The most notable effects included a growth of interest in the game in the United States and the expansion into Sun Belt markets such as Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix (Glendale), Tampa Bay, Miami (Sunrise) and (most recently) Las Vegas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade also accelerated the decline of the Oilers’ dynasty. Nearly three decades later, the club still hasn’t recovered from it.
EDMONTON SUN: Speaking of Gretzky, “he’s been named an ambassador the Kunlun Star hockey team in Beijing which plays in the KHL.” He remains a partner and vice chair of Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG).
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: A public visitation for the late Stan Mikita will be held from Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the United Center atrium. The Blackhawks legend passed away earlier this week at age 78.
NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter believes he’ll be fully recovered from a fractured ankle in time for training camp next month. Suter suffered the season-ending injury on March 31.
SPORTSNET: Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin said he and the club are getting closer to an agreement on a new contract. “I’ve told everyone I think it’ll be before training camp. It’s right there. I’m just waiting to iron out the details.”
Forward Brock Boeser said there’s no firm deadline yet on a contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks but he stressed he has a good relationship with management and the two sides are taking their time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Larkin’s status as a restricted free agent the questions over when he’ll be re-signed are understandable. Boeser, on the other hand, is entering the final season of his entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent next summer. He and the Canucks don’t have to rush into contract talks right now. By the sound of things, Boeser doesn’t appear very concerned about the situation.
ARIZONA SPORTS’ Craig Morgan reports Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun has been cleared to skate. The blueliner underwent knee surgery 17 weeks ago.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes fans are being asked to vote on the club’s new goal song.
Hall of Famer Stan Mikita passes away plus updates on Vladimir Tarasenko, Max Pacioretty, Matt Cullen and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former Blackhawks stars Stan Mikita passed away yesterday at age 78 following a long illness. Mikita was born in the former Czechoslavakia in 1940 and immigrated to Canada at age eight, settling in St. Catherines, Ontario. He joined the Blackhawks in 1959 and spent his entire 22-year NHL career with them.
Mikita set Blackhawks’ franchise records with “1,396 regular-season games, 1,467 points, 926 assists and a plus-329 rating.” His 541 career goals rank second to Bobby Hull’s 604.” He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961.
“Mikita earned the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player in 1967 and ’68, the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 1964, ’65, ’67 and ’68, and the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly play in 1967 and ’68. He was the first player to win all three trophies in one year and the only player to win all three in consecutive years.”
Mikita was also an innovator, becoming among the first players to use a curved blade on his stick and designing his own helmet. A scrappy player earlier in his career, he changed his style of play after his young daughter asked him why he was sent to the penalty box during a game.
Mikita was a member of Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union. He retired in 1980 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. In 2017, he was named among the NHL’s 100 greatest players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Mikita’s family, friends and former teammates. He was one of hockey’s greatest players and (in my opinion) the greatest player in Blackhawks history. Though small in stature at 5’9″ and 160 pounds, few could match his on-ice intensity, stick-handling skills and hockey smarts. Mikita was also a gentleman away from the rink and actively involved for many years in the Chicago community.
SPORTSNET: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has resumed skating after recovering from reconstructive shoulder surgery. He hopes to be ready for the start of the season.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty has put his Florida home up for sale.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Guess this means Pacioretty isn’t being traded to the Florida Panthers…;)
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The coming season is likely to be the last for 41-year-old Penguins center Matt Cullen. He returned to the Penguins this summer after playing last season with the Minnesota Wild.
TSN: Travis Yost believes the growing trend of players signing contracts heavy with signing bonuses could become an issue between the NHL and NHLPA in the next round of collective bargaining.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like lengthy front-loaded contracts under the previous CBA, the league frowns upon teams signing players to deals where they’re getting a lot of their money upfront every year. Expect the league to close that loophole in the next CBA.
The Chicago Blackhawks are the 2015 Stanley Cup champions, updates on the Capitals, Coyotes and Blues, and the latest on advanced stats. (more…)