NHL ProteauType: Dept. of Player Safety Is Toothless, In Need of Repair
The Panthers and Lightning clinch playoff berths, the new broadcasting deal with Turner Sports is announced, the date for the 2021 draft lottery is revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and collected three assists as the Florida Panthers defeated the Nashville Predators 7-4. Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett each had three points. With 69 points, the Panthers clinched their first playoff berth since 2015-16 and sit two points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Discover Central Division. Ryan Ellis tallied twice for the Predators, who sit in fourth place with 56 points.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning also secured a postseason spot with a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Brayden Point had a goal and two assists and Alex Killorn scored two goals for the Lightning, who sit one point back of the Panthers in third place. Chicago defenseman Adam Boqvist suffered a broken right wrist in this game and is done for the season. The Blackhawks (49 points) are seven points behind the Predators with two games in hand.
Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal scored twice and picked up an assist as his club beat the Dallas Stars 5-1. Andrei Svechnikov picked up three assists. The Stars remain two points behind the Predators.
A 41-save shutout by Elvis Merzlikins carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 1-0 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings. Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand tallied in the shootout. Earlier in the day, the Jackets announced goaltender Joonas Korpisalo will miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury.
The Washington Capitals regained first place in the MassMutual East Division by blanking the New York Islanders 1-0. Vitek Vanecek made 18 saves for the shutout and Daniel Sprong netted the only goal. The Capitals (68 points) sit one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who sit four up on the Islanders.
Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Boston Bruins. David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall were the goalscorers for the Bruins (62 points), who moved within a point of the third-place Islanders.
The New York Rangers remain four points back of the Bruins by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin kicked out 36 shots.
Third-period goals by Yegor Sherangovich and Mikhail Maltsev gave the New Jersey Devils a 6-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to snap their 10-game losing skid.
The NHL and Turner Sports officially announced their seven-year media rights agreement yesterday. Regular-season, Stanley Cup Playoff and Stanley Cup Final games will be televised on TNT and TBS starting next season and running through 2027-28.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Combined with the NHL’s new broadcasting deal with ESPN, this agreement will pour $625 million annually into the league’s coffers. That’s a significant increase over the $200 million annually the league was receiving in their current deal with NBC Sports.
THE SCORE: cites a report by TSN’s Frank Seravalli saying the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery will take place on June 2.
TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs forward Miroslav Frycer passed away in the Czech Republic yesterday at age 61. He’d been battling a series of health problems brought about in part by alcohol abuse earlier in his playing career.
Frycer and his family defected to Canada from communist Czechoslovakia in 1981. He spent nine seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers from 1981-82 to 1988-89, spending seven of those seasons with the Leafs. In 415 games, Frycer scored 147 goals and 183 assists for 330 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Frycer’s family, friends, colleagues and former teammates.
Connor McDavid leads the Oilers over the Jets, the Hurricanes clinch a playoff spot, the stars of the week are announced, a new broadcasting deal with Turner, the latest on Patrick Roy and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid tallied a hat trick and added an assist leading the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-1 rout of the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have 58 points, sitting one up on the Jets for second place in the Scotia North Division while McDavid has a league-leading 81 points. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced winger Zack Kassian was placed on long-term injury reserve. The Jets, meanwhile, announced winger Nikolaj Ehlers will miss the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets will miss Ehlers’ production. He’s second among their scorers with 46 points.
The Montreal Canadiens (51 points) opened a six-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division with a 2-1 victory. Tyler Toffoli scored the game-winner while Cole Caufield was held scoreless in his NHL debut. The Flames suffered another blow earlier in the day when they learned defenseman Noah Hanifin will require season-ending shoulder surgery.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens control their fate as they hold a game in hand over the Flames.
The Carolina Hurricanes clinched a playoff spot despite dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Dallas Stars. Stars captain Jamie Benn scored the game-winner and collected three assists. The Hurricanes sit atop the Discover Central Division with 69 points, securing a third straight postseason berth for the first time since the franchise relocated to North Carolina in 1997. With 54 points, the Stars remain two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
Speaking of the Predators, they got a 39-save performance by Juuse Saros to down the Florida Panthers 4-1 to prevent the latter from clinching a playoff spot. Florida goaltender Chris Driedger left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Panthers sit two points back of the division-leading Hurricanes.
The St. Louis Blues regained fourth place in the Honda West Division with a 4-1 upset of the Colorado Avalanche. David Perron had a goal and two assists as St. Louis (48 points) moved a point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. Blues defensemen Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn missed the game with upper-body injuries. The Avs played without winger Brandon Saad, who’s sidelined two to four weeks with a lower-body injury. They sit in second place with 66 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Canadiens, the Blues control their fate as they hold three games in hand over the Coyotes.
A four-point performance by Evander Kane (one goal, three assists) gave the San Jose Sharks a 6-4 win over the Coyotes. The Sharks (43 points) sit four back of the Coyotes and five behind the Blues.
A 25-save performance by Marcus Hogberg gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Brady Tkachuk collected two assists while Drake Batherson tallied the winning goal. The Canucks played without goaltender Thatcher Demko as he suffered an undisclosed injury during the morning skate. The Senators, meanwhile, could be without Matt Murray (lower-body injury) for the rest of the season.
Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. The Ducks have dropped five in a row.
San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot, and Florida Panthers left winger Jonathan Huberdeau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 25, 2021.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed practice yesterday with a lower-body injury and is doubtful for tonight’s game with the New York Islanders. Defenseman Justin Schultz (lower body) is also doubtful though he did skate in yesterday’s practice in a non-contact jersey.
SPORTSNET: The NHL has reportedly reached an agreement with Turner Sports on a seven-year broadcasting deal that includes three Stanley Cup Finals. This deal would give the league two television partners for the first time since 1998-99 as it recently reached an agreement to return to ESPN starting next season. The Turner deal spells the end of NBC Sports’ coverage of NHL games following this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The combined deals will reportedly provide the NHL $625 million annually in broadcasting revenue. That’s a significant increase over the $200 million annually on its current deal with NBC.
SPORTSNET: Hall-of-Fame goaltender Patrick Roy is exploring options for a possible return to the NHL as a coach or general manager. Roy was head coach of the Colorado Avalanche from 2013-14 to 2015-16 but stepped down citing a lack of input in personnel decisions. He’s also the long-time head coach and general manager of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news sparked speculation among Montreal Canadiens fans that Roy could replace Marc Bergevin as general manager. Roy’s new agent, however, claimed they haven’t had any conversations with the Canadiens and no deals are imminent with any other NHL club.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Andrew Shaw yesterday announced his playing career is over after 10 NHL seasons with the Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens. Multiple concussions cut short his career at age 29. Shaw spent seven seasons with the Blackhawks, winning two Stanley Cups and scoring 116 goals and 247 points in 544 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Shaw and his family in his future endeavors.
Recaps of Friday’s action, Dylan Larkin and Jakob Silfverberg are done for the season, P.K. Subban confirms COVID-19 diagnosis, Joe Thornton fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames kept their fading playoff hopes alive by doubling up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Sean Monahan scored the winning goal and collected two assists as the Flames (43 points) sit six points behind the fourth-place Canadiens in the Scotia North Division. Flames winger Josh Leivo missed the game after landing on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list while Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin was sidelined by an illness unrelated to COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if Leivo has the coronavirus or if this was a false positive. The rest of the Flames and their staff tested negative. They must sweep the next two games against Montreal to have a realistic chance of staying in the postseason chase.
Sam Reinhart tallied a hat trick and goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 36 saves in his NHL debut as the Buffalo Sabres upset the Boston Bruins 6-4. Boston captain Patrice Bergeron missed the game with a suspected lower-body injury. The Bruins hold fourth place in the MassMutual East Division with 60 points.
The New York Rangers gained some ground on Boston with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Pavel Buchnevich and Alexis Lafreniere each had a goal and an assist to give the Rangers 54 points, putting them six back of the Bruins.
A two-goal performance by rookie Kirill Kaprizov carried the Minnesota Wild to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Cam Talbot kicked out 40 shots for the win as the Wild (63 points) move within three points of the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. The Kings (40 points) remain five points behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov leads all NHL rookies with 21 goals and 40 points. He’s played a key role in the Wild’s solid performance and is the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy this season.
Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros made 29 saves backstopping his club over the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division with 54 points, sitting four up on the Dallas Stars and five ahead of the Blackhawks.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin will miss the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury. He’s currently their leading scorer with 23 points in 44 games.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg underwent season-ending hip surgery and is expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months. He could miss the start of training camp in September.
TSN: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban took to social media Friday to confirm he’s dealing with COVID-19. He said the coronavirus “hit me pretty hard” but expects to be “back in the mix soon.” He thanked his supporters for their well-wishes, telling them to take care of themselves.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He could miss today’s game against the New York Islanders.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness is hopeful Tyler Seguin will make a return to play next week after being sidelined since the fall by hip surgery. However, he maintained he won’t rush the center’s decision to return.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton was fined $3,017.24 by the NHL department of player safety for interfering with Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault on Thursday.
TSN: Leafs defenseman Zach Bogosian is out for four weeks with an injured shoulder.
YAHOO! SPORTS: WWE executive Nick Khan said it’s his company’s belief that the partnership between NBC and the NHL could end following this season. The remarks came in response to a question over whether the shuttering of NBCSN might create scheduling conflicts between WWE and the NHL on USA Network.
The NHL’s contract with NBC expires at the end of this season. ESPN has a new deal in place with the league for most of its US broadcast coverage. There’s speculation Disney, ESPN’s parent company, is in the process of working out a deal for the entire NHL slate.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk of the NHL making a deal with NBC or another media company like Fox Sports or Turner Sports to split its coverage with ESPN. That could no longer be the case if Khan’s remarks are anything to go by.
The Avalanche clinch a playoff berth, a big night for Jakub Vrana, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are the second team to secure a playoff spot by doubling up the St. Louis Blue 4-2. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists for the Avalanche, who were playing their first game since their schedule was postponed by a COVID-19 outbreak last week. They sit two points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Jaden Schwartz scored both goals for the Blues (44 points), who remain one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jared Bednar surpassed Bob Hartley as the Avalanche’s longest-tenured head coach with his 360th game. He’s now in his fifth season in that role and has done a magnificent job coaching this former bottom-feeding club into a Stanley Cup contender.
Two shorthanded goals by Sebastian Aho carried the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Carolina’s Martin Necas picked up three assists while Florida captain Aleksander Barkov scored twice. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 67 points, two up on the second-place Panthers. They also played without defenseman Brady Skjei as he remains sidelined indefinitely by a concussion.
The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 to sit one point back of the Panthers. Blake Coleman scored twice and Ondrej Palat netted the game-winner.
Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana scored four goals to lead his club over the Dallas Stars 7-3. Thomas Greiss made 43 saves for the win. The Stars (50 points) remain two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. The Wings played without captain Dylan Larkin (upper-body injury) and announced Tyler Bertuzzi is done for the season with an upper-body injury.
Auston Matthews tallied his 34th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. Mitch Marner scored twice and Nick Foligno collected an assist in his debut with the Leafs. Mark Scheifele had two points for the Jets, who lost center Adam Lowry following a headshot from Leafs winger Alex Galchenyuk. The Leafs played without defenseman Zach Bogosian, who’s sidelined for more than a week with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 63 points, the Leafs now hold a six-point lead over the Jets for first place in the Scotia North Division.
Shootout goals by Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Washington Capitals a 1-0 victory over the New York Islanders. Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves for his second shutout of the season. The Capitals (64 points) hold a one-point lead over the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the MassMutual East Division.
Speaking of the Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, Kasperi Kapanen and Teddy Blueger each had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, Kapanen returned to action after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury. The Penguins hold second place over the Islanders with 30 wins.
The Boston Bruins picked up their sixth straight win by beating the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist and Jeremy Swayman kicked out 29 shots. The Bruins sit in fourth place in the East Division with 60 points, three behind the Islanders and eight up on the New York Rangers.
Two power-play goals by James van Riemsdyk powered the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the Rangers. Brian Elliott made 33 saves for the Flyers (49 points), who sit three points back of the fifth-place Rangers in the East Division.
Matt Murray had a 31-save shutout as the Ottawa Senators blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0. Drake Batherson had a goal and an assist as the Senators have won four of their last five games.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
STAR-TRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild re-signed forward Ryan Hartman to a three-year, $5.1 million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.7 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hartman accepted a slight pay cut from his currently $1.9 million AAV for the security of an extra year. Cap Friendly indicates the signing leaves the Wild with $59.6 million invested in 13 players for 2021-22.
TSN: Only four players were on the NHL’s COVID-19 list yesterday. Three of them were the Avalanche’s Joonas Donskoi, Philipp Grubauer and Mikko Rantanen. The fourth was the Devils’ P.K. Subban.
Frank Seravalli reports the NHL and NHLPA have given the International Olympic Committee until the end of May for a financial commitment for the 2022 Winter Olympics because they need to set their schedule for next season.
THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Seattle Kraken are being sued by Seattle’s Kraken Lounge for $3.5 million. The lawsuit alleges the risk of irreparable harm to their brand name due to the team’s name choice and plans to open the Kraken Bar & Grill at their planned training facility.
The Golden Knights become the first team to clinch a playoff berth, Patrick Marleau reaches another milestone for games played, plus the latest on Jonathan Toews, Conor Garland and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs by downing the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Jonathan Marchessault led the way with two goals and two assists for the Golden Knights, who sit atop the Honda West Division and the overall standings with 68 points. San Jose forward Patrick Marleau reached another milestone, playing in his 900th consecutive NHL game. The Sharks (41 points) remain four points back of the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau recently broke Gordie Howe’s NHL record for most games played with 1,768. His Ironman streak is also impressive, becoming just the fourth player in league history to play 900 consecutive games. The leader is Doug Jarvis (964), followed by Garry Unger (914) and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (913), with the latter poised to tie Unger in tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Minnesota Wild. Kirill Kaprizov set the Wild record for most goals by a rookie with 19 while Cam Talbot kicked out 39 shots for the win. With 61 points, the Wild sits three points behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche. Coyotes winger Conor Garland missed the game following a lower-body injury suffered in practice earlier in the day.
Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored twice as his club held off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists as the Oilers (56 points) sit one point behind the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens, meanwhile, sit fourth with 49 points, opening an eight-point lead over the Calgary Flames. Oilers winger Zack Kassian left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 4-1 deficit to drop the Nashville Predators 5-4 on an overtime goal by Brandon Hagel, who also collected two assists. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division with 52 points while the Blackhawks sit three back in sixth.
The NHL extended the West Division schedule to May 13 to accommodate postponed games involving the Avalanche.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL hopes to start the 2021-22 season on Oct. 12, which is one week later than in a normal year. Training camps would open on Sept. 22 if there are no COVID-related delays.
The league cannot say for certain when the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs will begin due to the in-season delays some teams have dealt with this season.
The NHL still intends to participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics provided an agreement is reached with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee.
The 2021 NHL Draft (July 23-24) will be held virtually for the second straight year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means it’ll probably take over seven hours again to complete the second day of the draft unless the league sets a more rigid timetable for each team to make their selections.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner accused the NHL of lying to the players regarding its policies on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccinations. He claimed the league told them restrictions would ease if a certain threshold of vaccinations were achieved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied Lehner’s claim, saying loosened restrictions were previously discussed internally and with the NHL Players Association but no decision was reached or communicated to the players.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is likely done for the remainder of this season as he continues to battle an illness that’s left him drained and lethargic. However, his health is improving and he’s expected to return next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Toews as he continues his recovery.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart will miss his club’s next two games due to a knee sprain.
TSN: A settlement in principle has been reached between the NHL and Kelli Ewen, widow of former player Todd Ewen, over the wrongful death lawsuit she filed against the league in 2019. The suit alleges Todd’s suicide in 2015 was linked to the league allegedly downplaying the potential long-term effects of repeated head trauma and profiting from a culture of on-ice violence.