NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 29, 2017
A roundup of notable news from the All-Star Weekend (so far) in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.com: The Atlantic Division won the 2017 NHL All-Star skills competition on Saturday and will place the Metropolitan Division in the semifinals of the 2017 NHL All-Star Game at Staples Center in Los Angeles today.
Among the highlights was Arizona Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith scoring from the goal line in the Four Line Challenge, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber winning the hardest shot competition, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid winning the fastest skater competition and Ryker Kesler, the six-year-old son of Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler, scoring the only goal for the Pacific Division in the shootout.
SPORTSNET: Some controversy emerged from McDavid’s attempt to break the full-lap record (13.172 seconds) held by Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin. It was pointed out McDavid had a standing start, while Larkin had a skating start. The Oilers captain finished with a time of 13.310 seconds. Larkin took to Twitter acknowledging he was allowed a skating start. He praised McDavid’s speed in the event and offered to take part a head-to-head challenge one day.
TSN: Wayne Gretzky will be head coach of the Metropolitan Division at today’s All-Star Game. He’s replacing Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who is taking a leave of absence to attend to a personal matter. Tortorella revealed the issue is one of his family’s five dogs is sick. “I appreciate so much the number of messages I have received since the announcement,” Tortorella said. “But this absolutely is not an emergency. I want to clear that up.” Because of NHL rules regarding All-Star game attendance, he was forced to miss the Blue Jackets 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league board of governors spent only 10 seconds on the issue of attending the 2018 Winter Olympics. However, he declined to say if there’s an deadline for the league to reach a final decision on the matter. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated that unless something changes the board’s mind, there’s little sentiment to take part in those Games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman didn’t state that the league was not taking part in next year’s Winter Olympics, leaving the door open for its possible participation. This is typical brinkmanship from the league commissioner, hoping to squeeze concessions from the International Olympic Committee, International Ice Hockey Federation and the NHL Players Association. However, he and the board of governors won’t let this hang in the air for long. At some point in the near future, a decision will have to be made.
Bettman also indicated the expansion Vegas Golden Knights could host an All-Star game down the road, insisted there won’t be advertisements on NHL jerseys, the league will look into changing the bye week rules and there’s no truth to speculation the Carolina Hurricanes are for sale. Speaking of the Golden Knight, they will be able to start making player transactions on March 1, including trades.
NEWSDAY: Bettman also said the New York Islanders ownership remain committed to New York but they’re keeping their options open regarding Barclays Center. The arena has drawn criticism from Long Island fans regarding its location and seating, while the players are critical of its ice conditions. Speaking of the Islanders, captain John Tavares said he’s open to discussing a contract extension with the club this summer, saying he’s excited over the organization’s direction.
CBC: Pop singer Justin Bieber acquitted himself well during the NHL All-Star celebrity exhibition game on Saturday afternoon. He scored a goal and was good-naturedly rubbed out along the boards by Chris Pronger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a good thing for Bieber that Pronger held up, as he could’ve absolutely crushed the singer if he’s chosen to. As it was, the photo of a laughing Pronger squishing Bieber’s face against the glass earned the Hall of Famer kudos from a number of hockey fans.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Long-time Kings broadcaster Bob Miller was hospitalized on Saturday for tests and overnight observation after feeling some discomfort prior to last night’s live broadcast of the skills competition. Last year, Miller underwent quadruple bypass surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Miller is okay and returns behind the microphone soon.