NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 17, 2021

98 percent of NHL players expected to be vaccinated for the coming season, Sidney Crosby hopes Alex Ovechkin breaks Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, plus the latest on Evander Kane, Carey Price, P.K. Subban and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly estimates 98 percent of players will be vaccinated against COVID-19 when the 2021-22 season opens on Oct. 12. That will leave between 10 and 15 players unvaccinated among 700 players on 32 teams.

The NHL and NHL Players Association didn’t impose a vaccine mandate on players, but restrictions (including restrictions at the Canada – US border requiring lengthy quarantine) contributed to the high number of vaccinations. Teams can also suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they cannot participate in hockey activities as part of its protocols.

Fully vaccinated players will have any positive COVID-19 tests treated as hockey injuries and continue to be paid. Unvaccinated players will have their movements restricted during road trips. Regular COVID testing will remain in place for vaccinated players. Coaches and staff must be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

THE PROVINCE: Patrick Johnston reports Daly confirmed that teams who suspend players without pay under the terms of the league’s COVID protocols will receive salary-cap relief from that player’s daily salary-cap hit.

Unvaccinated players can be ruled exempt from suspension if they have legitimate medical reasons for avoiding vaccination or if it conflicts with “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Johnston also reported at least one Caucks remains unvaccinated but the team declined to comment citing medical privacy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL isn’t fooling around with its protocols this season after a number of game postponements due to COVID-19 outbreaks over the course of last season led to a series of scheduling changes. It took a physical toll on the players as they endured multiple games within a much more compressed period of time.

Unvaccinated players will have a more difficult time navigating through those strict protocols this season. Those restrictions could encourage the remainder who lack medical exemption to get vaccinated. The risk of suspension without pay for a positive test is too great over the course of the season.

SPORTSNET: Daly indicated the salary cap for the 2022-23 season is expected to increase by $1 million to $82.5 million.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has the support of a long-time rival in his quest to break Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he told Ovechkin he hopes he does it. “It would be awesome. He’s in range, “ said Crosby. “He can score anywhere from insider the blue line.”

Crosby added one caveat. “I just hope that all his goals that he gets are against the other teams as he’s trying to add toward it.” Gretzky has 894 goals while Ovechkin sits at 730 to start the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin’s legacy is secure as this generation’s greatest goal scorer and one of the all-time greats. Most of Gretzky’s records are out of reach of today’s players, so the opportunity for the Capitals superstar to break the goal record would be a phenomenal achievement.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Evander Kane remains confident that the league will clear him of allegations by his estranged wife that he gambled on NHL games. In an interview with ESPN’s Linda Cohn, the San Jose Sharks winger called the allegations “incredibly false”, claiming he’s never bet on any NHL games or intentionally altered the way he plays.

The NHL opened an investigation into the allegations in July. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he anticipates it will wrap up soon and to have a full report by the start of training camp.

Kane admitted he has a gambling addiction which led to his filing for bankruptcy in July. He also downplayed reports claiming some of his Sharks teammates don’t want him back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz believes it’s what’s Kane didn’t say during the interview that’s newsworthy. “This was a missed opportunity for him to signal to his teammates/organization that he’s ready to come back, change his ways, and be a solid teammate. Instead, nothing’s changed.”

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took to the ice yesterday in full equipment with a member of the team’s training staff. It’s believed the first time he’s skated since undergoing knee surgery in July. He spent 10 minutes on the ice doing stretching and skating drills.

TORONTO STAR: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is an executive producer on an upcoming docuseries entitled, “Black Life: A Canadian History.”

THE ATHLETIC: Andrew Ladd is looking forward to the opportunity to play in the NHL again. He was traded this summer to the Arizona Coyotes by the New York Islanders. He played just 30 NHL games over the past three seasons with the Islanders.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres will face off in the 2022 Heritage Classic on March 13 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.

THE SCORE: Two suspects were arrested in the robbery of a St. Louis Blues prospect and a woman on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. The name of the prospect has not been released.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

Oilers Darnell Nurse and Islanders Adam Pelech sign lucrative long-term contracts, concern about season ticket sales and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year, $74 million contract extension. The 26-year-old defenseman’s annual cap hit is $9.25 million.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse’s new contract raise eyebrows around the league. He’s a very good defenseman but the overall consensus is the Oilers overpaid to keep him in Edmonton. He is also the fifth blueliner this summer to sign a long-term deal worth $9 million or more annually, joining Columbus’ Zach Werenski ($9.583 million), Chicago’s Seth Jones ($9.5 million), Colorado’s Cale Makar ($9 million) and New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton ($9 million).

The Oilers had little choice. Nurse is their top defenseman and they couldn’t risk losing him next summer to free agency. That would leave them scrambling to find a replacement as they did following Adam Larsson’s surprise departure to Seattle last month. Often, the replacement is more affordable but of lesser skill.

This move ensures some stability on the Oilers’ blueline. Over time, however, it could have long-term salary-cap implications if Nurse’s performance declines over the second half of this deal.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders avoided salary arbitration with Adam Pelech by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to an eight-year, $46 million contract. The annual average value is $5.75 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement of Nurse’s contract overshadowed the Pelech signing. Islanders fans should be delighted with this deal. Pelech is a solid stay-at-home blueliner who’s become a key part of his club’s defense corps. The term is a little long as it takes Pelech well past his prime years. However, the cap hit is quite reasonable and shouldn’t be a drag on the Isles’ payroll during the latter years of the contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided arbitration with defenseman Vince Dunn by reaching an agreement on a two-year contract worth $4 million per season. They also signed free-agent forward Marcus Johansson to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn was among the players selected by the Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. He was coming off a one-year, $1.875 million deal with the St. Louis Blues. This is a “show-me” contract for the 24-year-old Dunn. He’s coming off his fourth-straight 20-point campaign but has struggled with consistency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed forward Brandon Hagel to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million annually.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks centers Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel accepted their one-year, two-way contracts yesterday. Each will receive over $874K at the NHL level.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year, $1.75 million contract. They acquired the 22-year-old blueliner from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the return in the Darcy Kuemper trade earlier this week. They also hired Larry Pleau as a special advisor to general manager Bill Armstrong.

THE ATHLETIC: Some NHL executives are concerned over a dip in season-ticket sales for the 2021-22 seasons. Fans are opting more for partial season-ticket plans rather than full-season packages. That includes some fans who were used to opt for the full-season deals in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the new broadcasting deals, gambling deals and the addition of a new franchise in Seattle, the NHL remains a gate-driven league. The worry about season-ticket sales comes amid concerns the cap could remain flattened over the next several years if league revenue doesn’t significantly increase.

As reported by Frank Seravalli yesterday and confirmed by The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro based on his multiple sources, the players owe the league approximately $1 billion because salaries exceeded revenue over the past two seasons. Until that’s paid back, the salary cap will only rise by $1 million per season only if revenue exceeds $4.8 million each season. That’s expected to happen for the coming season.

The amount owed by the players will be repaid through escrow rates agreed upon in last year’s CBA extension. If the debt isn’t fully repaid by 2025-26, the CBA will be extended for another season at a higher escrow rate until the owners’ share is made whole.

Perhaps those partial ticket sales are tied to fans’ concerns over another spike in COVID-19 resulting in another shortened season or restrictions on attendance. That could change in the long term if the league gets through 2021-22 without reductions to the schedule or limitations on the number of fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: Speaking of concerns over rising COVID numbers, The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted out the league has issued a memo to its 32 teams prohibiting the players from all corporate, charity and community-based interaction with fans.

The league and the NHLPA will continue observing vaccination rates and the spread of COVID variants during this offseason to determine whether similar measures will be required for training camp.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a lawyer for a former Chicago Blackhawks player has asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to investigate Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

The Lightning thump the Islanders to take a 3-2 lead in their semifinal series, updates on the Golden Knights and Canadiens, 18 players exempt from the expansion draft, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are one game away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final after crushing the New York Islanders 8-0 in Game 5 of their semifinal series. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each scored twice, Nikita Kucherov collected three assists, Brayden Point scored to extend his goals streak to eight games, and Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 21-save shutout.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Islanders center Mathew Barzal could face supplemental discipline from the NHL department of player safety after receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta, who was shaken up and played just one shift in the third period.

The Lightning holds a 3-2 series lead and can wrap up the series in Game 6 Wednesday on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the Lightning’s most dominating performance of these playoffs. It was also the Islanders’ worst effort of the postseason. The Bolts jumped from the gate early with three first-period goals, chasing Isles starter Semyon Varlamov from the net. Backup Ilya Sorokin didn’t fare any better, allowing five goals on 26 shots.

This loss isn’t all on the Isles goaltenders. Their teammates seemed caught off guard by the Lightning’s strong start and never really mounted much of a response.

Barzal’s frustration boiled over when he crosschecked Rutta. It could prove more costly to the Isles in Game 6 if his actions result in suspension.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights’ top forwards are struggling to score in their semifinal series with the Montreal Canadiens. Nicolas Roy has two goals, Mattias Janmark one, and that’s it for their scoring forwards. Their defensemen have accounted for the bulk of their offense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have done a good job thus far bottling up Vegas’ top scorers. They’ll have another opportunity to find a way to thwart the Habs’ tight-checking system in Game 5 tonight in Las Vegas.

TSN: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher believes the longer this series goes the more pressure falls on the heavily favored Golden Knights. “As this series goes on, we get more and more comfortable in these situations and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve shortened this series to a best-of-three,” said Gallagher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tonight’s game could determine the direction of this series. The winner will have a chance to close it out in Game 6 on Thursday in Montreal.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector weighs in on the poor quality of officiating in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mark (no relation) isn’t the only pundit raising questions about the questionable calls and missed penalties in every series thus far. We can expect this issue to be raised by reporters during NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual postseason press conference prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma expressed concern over the recent positive COVID-19 tests of Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme and Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon. He suspects they contracted the coronavirus in Las Vegas, where transmission rates are six times higher than in Quebec as health guidelines in Vegas have gone from relaxed to non-existent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of where Ducharme and McCrimmon were infected with COVID-19, the league and the two clubs must ensure their health protocols for this series remain strictly enforced. An outbreak among the players could put their health at risk and derail their series.

CAP FRIENDLY: 18 NHL players are exempt from next month’s expansion draft due to injury or career-ending illness. They include Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler, Arizona’s Marian Hossa, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, Tampa Bay’s Marian Gaborik and Washington’s Henrik Lundqvist.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Matt Nieto to a two-year, $1.7 million contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Blake Comeau to a one-year, $1 million contract.

ESPN.COM: J.T. Brown has retired from professional hockey to join the expansion Seattle Kraken as a television analyst. He played seven NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild from 2011-12 to 2018-19, finishing with 72 points in 365 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Brown in his broadcasting career.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild assistant general manager Tom Kurvers passed away Monday from lung cancer at age 58. He was diagnosed in 2019 despite being a non-smoker.

Kurvers spent 11 NHL seasons as a defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks from 1984-85 to 1994-95, finishing with 421 points in 659 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kurvers’ family, friends, former teammates and associates, and the Wild organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2021

Connor McDavid reaches 100 points in 53 games, the Leafs and Penguins secure division titles, the Predators clinch a playoff spot, John Tortorella reportedly won’t return next season as Blue Jackets coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid reached 100 points in his 53rd game of the season in a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid had a goal and three assists to become the first player to score at least 100 points in the same number of games since Mario Lemieux (126 points) and Jaromir Jagr (101) in 1995-96. Teammate Leon Draisaitl scored twice to reach his 500th career point. With 68 points, the Oilers are assured of second place in the Scotia North Division.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a remarkable achievement by McDavid. He’s the favorite to win the Hart Memorial Trophy this season as the most valuable player.

The Toronto Maple Leafs won its first division title in 21 years with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, preventing the latter from clinching a playoff spot. The Leafs overcame a 2-0 deficit with second-period goals by Peter Engvall, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. They sit atop the North Division with 76 points. The Canadiens played without center Phillip Danault, who suffered a concussion during Thursday’s game between the two clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal holds a 10-point lead over the Calgary Flames but the latter has three games in hand while the Canadiens have two games left in the schedule. The Habs need just one point or the Flames to lose one of their remaining games to clinch a playoff berth.

Ottawa Senators rookie Tim Stutzle tallied his first career hat trick as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Mark Scheifele tallied his 200th career goal for the Jets (57 points), who remain just two points ahead of the fourth-place Canadiens.

The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched first place in the MassMutual East Division by blanking the Buffalo Sabres 1-0. Maxime Legace made 26 saves for the shutout while Jeff Carter scored the only goal. The Penguins finish the season with 77 points, two up on the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter’s offense has really picked up since the Penguins acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline. After collecting just 19 points in 40 games with the Kings, Carter has nine goals and 11 points in 14 games with the Penguins.

An overtime goal by Conor Sheary saw the Capitals squeak past the Washington Capitals 2-1. Craig Anderson kicked out 28 shots for the win as the Capitals sit four points ahead of the third-place Boston Bruins.

The Bruins, meanwhile, dropped a 5-4 decision to the New York Rangers. Mika Zibanejad scored twice, including his 200th career goal while Boston winger David Pastrnak also tallied the 200th of his career. The Bruins (71 points) hold a one-point lead over the New York Islanders with a game in hand.

Speaking of the Islanders, they got two goals from Brock Nelson to beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1. Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist for the fourth-place Isles.

The Nashville Predators clinched the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Luke Kunin scored two goals for the Predators (62 points), who will face the Hurricanes in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one saw the Predators in this position two months ago. A six-game winning streak in late March sparked an impressive season-saving surge in the standings.

A hat trick by Alexander Wennberg carried the Florida Panthers over the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. The Panthers (77 points) have won five straight games to move two points ahead of the Lightning into second place in the Central. These two teams will face off in the opening round of the playoffs. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman missed this game with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports Hedman’s been dealing with this injury since March 30 and he could face surgery following the playoffs. A hobbled Hedman will affect the Lightning’s efforts to successfully defend their Stanley Cup title.

The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their lead atop the Honda West Division with a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Reilly Smith netted his first career hat trick as the Golden Knights (80 points) hold a four-point lead over the second-place Colorado Avalanche.

Defenseman Devon Toews scored twice as the Avalanche nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Andre Burakovsky extended his points streak to five games with two assists. The Avs (76 points) sit one point ahead of the third-place Minnesota Wild with a game in hand.

An overtime goal by Victor Rask gave the Wild a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was the final game of Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller’s NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild saluted Miller following the game by lining up to shake his hand. He ends his career with 391 victories, a 2.64 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and 44 shutouts.

Phil Kessel scored in overtime in his 900th consecutive game as the Arizona Coyotes downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Kessel also reached the 20-goal mark for the 12th time in his career.

An overtime goal by Max Domi lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Seth Jones collected three assists for the Jackets.

HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline cites sources saying John Tortorella won’t be returning as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets next season. His contract expires after this season. Tortorella is the winningest coach in franchise history, guiding them to four playoff appearances in six seasons, including the first playoff series win in franchise history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella won the second of his Jack Adams Awards in 2016-17 for his efforts in getting the Jackets into the playoffs that season. However, the club struggled throughout most of this season, sparking speculation some of the players were growing weary of his demanding ways. He reportedly intends to continue his NHL coaching career.

NHL.COM: The league will relax its COVID-19 restrictions on fully vaccinated teams and players for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

TSN: Some players on Canadian teams have started receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations in accordance with Canadian federal and provincial protocols. The Toronto Maple Leafs will begin receiving their shots today.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Brett Connolly are both in the NHL’s concussion protocol and won’t complete the club’s final two games of the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2021

Another milestone for Alex Ovechkin, Kyle Palmieri withheld from Devils game, the Panthers sit atop the overall standings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tied Brett Hull for the second-most career power-play goals in NHL history as the Washington Capitals held on for a 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin and Hull each have 265 power-play goals, nine behind all-time leader Dave Andreychuk at 274. Ovechkin is also at 725 career goals, six behind Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

With 54 points, the Capitals sit two points up on the New York Islanders for first place in the MassMutual East Division. The Devils held winger Kyle Palmieri out of this game in anticipation of a potential trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on Palmieri’s situation in today’s Rumor Mill update.

The Florida Panthers moved into first overall in the NHL standings by blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 32 saves for the shutout while captain Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist. The Panthers have 56 points and hold a two-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division while the Blue Jackets remain in seventh with 36 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The red-hot Panthers have won six straight games. Four of those victories came without top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who’s out for the rest of the regular season with a fractured leg. The Jackets, meanwhile, have won just three of their last 10 games and are falling further out of playoff contention.

The Lightning, meanwhile, suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, who picked up their first win in Tampa Bay since 2011. Second-period goals by Valtteri Filppula, Michael Rasmussen and Marc Staal powered the Wings to victory. The Lightning (54 points) sits one point ahead of the third-place Carolina Hurricanes.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they edged the Dallas Stars 1-0 on a goal by Jordan Martinook. Goaltender Petr Mrazek kicked out 28 shots for the shutout in his first game since being sidelined by a broken thumb on Jan. 30. Stars coach Rick Bowness left the game following the second period and was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list following a positive test result. The Stars (36 points) remain five points out of the fourth and final playoff berth in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness received his COVID vaccination in January. General manager Jim Nill is hopeful this was a false positive as it was what he called a “very low grade” of test result. Goaltender Anton Khudobin missed his scheduled start on Saturday following a positive test but he was removed yesterday from the protocol list after a subsequent negative result.

Third-period goals by John Tavares and Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Calgary Flames 4-2. Matthews is now at a league-leading 25 goals on the season as the Leafs (53 points) open a six-point lead over the second-place Edmonton Oilers in the Scotia North Division. The Jets are tied with the Oilers with 47 points but the latter has more regulation victories.

A hat trick by Jakob Chychrun carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-2. The Coyotes sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 41 points and hold a three-point lead over the St. Louis blues.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports the number of Vancouver Canucks on the COVID-19 protocol list officially grew to 16 when Jalen Chatfield and Marc Michaelis tested positive yesterday. However, an NHL source claims more than 20 Canucks players and coaches have tested positive with some experiencing symptoms of the Brazilian P.1 variant.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Canucks family members are also contracting the coronavirus. He added the variant symptoms including vomiting, cramping and dehydration. However, a source told Postmedia the numbers vary and that it’s under 20. The source also said there haven’t been reports of severe symptoms, with most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy, with no reports of vomiting.

The training staff said few Canucks have had severe symptoms. Most are said to be feeling better, with just one player having had an IV administered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping those symptoms remain mild and those infected make a swift and full recovery. The Canucks are likely to be shut down for at least two weeks by the league given their high number of infections. That’s how long the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils were sidelined following their respective outbreaks earlier this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

Brad Marchand and Alex Wennberg each tally a hat trick, the Stars and Sharks keep their playoff hopes alive and more Canucks added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Details and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand tallied a hat trick and David Pastrnak scored twice to lead the Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-5. Pittsburgh forwards Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and two assists. With the win, the Bruins (43 points) opened a four-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division. The Penguins (50 points) are seven points ahead of the Bruins in third, sitting two behind the second-place New York Islanders. The Bruins also learned defenseman Brandon Carlo is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered on Thursday against the Penguins. 

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images)

Mathew Barzal scored the winner in a shootout as the Islanders nipped the Flyers 3-2. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice for the Isles but Claude Giroux countered with two to force extra time. The Islanders are tied with the Washington Capitals with 52 points but the latter holds first place in the East with a game in hand. Isles forward Ross Johnston left the game following a first-period fight with Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin and didn’t return.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their second win in three games by edging the New York Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. Tage Thompson potted the winner for the Sabres. Artemi Panarin scored twice for the Rangers, who are tied with the Flyers with 39 points but the latter holds fifth place in the East Division with a game in hand.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their 17th straight home victory over the Detroit Red Wings by edging the latter 2-1. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves while Ross Colton and Brayden Point tallied for the Lightning (54 points), who are tied with the Florida Panthers but hold first place in the Discover Central Division with a game in hand.

A hat trick by Alex Wennberg and a 44-save effort by Sergei Bobrovsky gave the Panthers a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The struggling Jackets sit seventh in the Central with 36 points. Jackets forward Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch in his contest with just two points in his last six outings.

A 41-save shutout by Juuse Saros carried the Nashville Predators to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Eeli Tolvanen’s 10th goal of the season was also the winning goal as the Predators (41 points) have won seven of their last eight contests, opening a two-point lead over the Blackhawks for fourth in the Central Division.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Tanner Kero broke a 2-2 tie while Jake Oettinger kicked out 41 shots for the Stars (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Predators in the Central Division. The Hurricanes (51 points) remain three points behind the Lightning and Florida Panthers in the Central.

Cale Makar’s goal within the final minute of regulation lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1. Nathan MacKinnon also scored for the Avs (54 points), who won their fourth straight and sit four points up on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. The Blues (38 points) remain one behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.

Third-period goals by Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek 55 seconds apart rallied the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1. With 48 points, the Wild are just two back of the second-place Golden Knights in the West Division.

A third-period goal by Dylan Gambrell gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Evander Kane and Kevin Labanc each had a goal and an assist as the surging Sharks moved into a tie with the Blues, though the latter holds fifth in the West Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.

The Ottawa Senators got two goals from Evgenii Dadonov and 35 saves from Anton Forsberg to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3, snapping the latter’s three-game win streak. Artem Anisimov also collected three assists for the Senators while Josh Anderson tallied twice for the Canadiens, who remain in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 41 points. Habs winger Tyler Toffoli also scored in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. The Senators played without Colin White, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE PROVINCE: Seven more Vancouver Canucks players were added to the NHL COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday while two more coaches also tested positive. Travis Boyd, Thatcher Demko, Jayce Hawryluk, Bo Horvat, Tyler Myers and Brandon Sutter were the new additions to the list. Several of the cases affecting the club are the highly contagious Brazilian P.1 variant.

Hawryluk is a positive case, marking the second time in a year he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Research shows the P.1 variant is capable of reinfecting people who previously suffered from other strains of the coronavirus.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL is proceeding on the assumption the entire Canucks team will likely test positive. It’s built into the league’s planning going forward, similar to what happened at the start of the season with the Dallas Stars. This is a variant of the coronavirus the league hasn’t seen before.

The Canucks shutdown will last longer than anticipated. They will not be playing next week. The league has discussed future dates with the club but those won’t be announced for a while.

North Division games will likely be scheduled past May 11, using the week of May 10-14 as a buffer. The three US divisions could still start their playoffs on May 11. The league also remains confident it can complete the 56-game schedule.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there are discussions about holding the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs in a bubble environment similar to last year, though it’s not something anyone wants at this point. Much will depend upon how things evolve between now and then.

Meanwhile, the NHL has issued a memo to its 31 teams reiterating the rules, regulations and best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Previous outbreaks among several clubs have put a strain on the schedule, with most teams facing a grueling timetable over the next six weeks making up games postponed earlier in the season. That’s going to take a physical toll on the players over the next month.

The league wants to avoid moving the regular season and playoff schedules forward because they don’t want to push the postseason any deeper into the summer than it already is. They also don’t to risk the Stanley Cup Final being staged at the same time as the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which are slated to begin on July 23.

Teams want to avoid a playoff bubble because it will adversely affect their already depleted revenue for this season. The players don’t want it because they’ll be separated for weeks from their families. Nevertheless, they could have little choice if the variants of the coronavirus lead to a significant increase in infections among the North American population.