NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2020

The Masterton Trophy nominees are revealed, updates on the league’s return-to-play plan, and the latest on John Tavares, Shea Weber, Jeff Carter, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) yesterday released the 2019-20 nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Miller, G
Arizona Coyotes: Conor Garland, F
Boston Bruins: Kevan Miller, D
Buffalo Sabres: Curtis Lazar, F
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano, D
Carolina Hurricanes: James Reimer, G
Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford, G
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan Graves, D
Columbus Blue Jackets: Nathan Gerbe, F
Dallas Stars: Stephen Johns, D
Detroit Red Wings: Robby Fabbri, F
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid, F
Florida Panthers: Noel Acciari, F 
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick, G
Minnesota Wild: Alex Stalock, G
Montreal Canadiens: Shea Weber, D
Nashville Predators: Jarred Tinordi, D
New Jersey Devils: Travis Zajac, F
New York Islanders: Thomas Hickey, D
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, G
Ottawa Senators: Bobby Ryan, F 
Philadelphia Flyers: Oskar Lindblom, F
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin, F
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton, F
St. Louis Blues: Jay Bouwmeester, D
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn, F
Toronto Maple Leafs: Zach Hyman, F
Vancouver Canucks: Jacob Markstrom, G
Vegas Golden Knights: Shea Theodore, D
Washington Capitals: Michal Kempny, D
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Letestu, F

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is among this year’s nominees for the Masterton Trophy (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the nominees. The winner of the Masterton Trophy will be announced at the 2020 NHL Awards following this season at a date to be announced.

LATEST ON THE RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL and NHL Players Association will continue discussions in the coming weeks regarding the protocols, details, testing, and more for staging Phase 3 and 4 of the league’s return-to-play plan. Phase 3 is the training camp portion and Phase 4 the 24-team playoff tournament. The PA executive board representing the 31 teams is expected to vote on one big package rather than separate votes for each phase.

Darren Dreger reports the players are awaiting the specifics for Phase 3, including details on the two hub cities, restrictions, family matters, and more. The league and the PA acknowledge nothing will be perfect and some sacrifices will have to be made to get the sport back on its feet.

Regarding the collective bargaining agreement, LeBrun said those involved are holding out hope for an extension before play resumes. A lot of work still has to be done. Escrow and the salary cap are important issues for the players. Dreger noted they’re also interested in returning to the Olympics as early as 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the league and the PA will get the details for the return-to-play plan sorted out by no later than early July. Whether either Phase takes place without a hitch is another issue. A second wave of COVID-19 could derail those plans.

Most fans will be thrilled if a CBA extension beyond 2022 can be hammered out before play resumes. Nevertheless, the priority is completing this season and crowning a Stanley Cup champion. The CBA takes a backseat to that right now.

REUTERS: Canada and the United States are expected to extend their border ban on non-essential travel to late July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the government of Canada provides exemptions for NHL players and staff, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver will be out of the running as one of the two host cities for the 24-team tournament. Other Canadian teams participating in the playoff tournament could emulate the Calgary Flames’ plans to stage training camps next month in the United States.

TORONTO SUN: John Tavares, Ilya Mikheyev, Jack Muzzin, and Jack Campbell were among the Maple Leafs taking part in small-group workouts yesterday at the Leafs’ training facility. Mitch Marner and Cody Ceci are expected to join them soon.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens captain Shea Weber intends to continue training at his off-season home in Kelowna, BC until a full training camp is on the horizon.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings center Jeff Carter underwent successful surgery last week to repair a core muscle injury. He’s expected to fully recover before the start of next season.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the New Jersey Devils put their search for a new head coach on pause for the time being. They reportedly spoke with 8-10 coaches and narrowed the list to four, including current interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Lawrence Pilut signed a two-year contract with KHL team Traktor Chelyabinsk. It appears to have an NHL opt-out clause but the details remain sketchy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pilut, 24, is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. Perhaps he’s trying to garner a measure of leverage in negotiations with the Sabres.

THE SCORE: Former NHL player Brandon Bochenski was elected mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota yesterday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2020

The latest on the hub cities bids, Red Wings confirm Jeff Blashill will return as head coach, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Max Domi, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WILL A CANADIAN CITY BECOME AN NHL HUB?

TSN: Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are among the 10 under consideration to serve as the two host cities for the NHL’s 24-team tournament to determine the 2020 Stanley Cup champion. However, they will be out of the running if the Canadian government doesn’t exempt NHL players from its 14-day mandatory self-quarantine for non-essential travelers crossing the Canadian border. The league indicated it will decide on the two host cities in another three or four weeks.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has sent a letter to Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau encouraging the federal government to deem professional athletes and training staff as essential workers. BC Premier John Horgan also hopes Vancouver will become a hub city but said his province’s 14-day self-quarantine rule will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan isn’t calling on the local or provincial governments to push for Toronto as a host city. Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sports, and tourism, is willing to make the case with the federal government.

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The U.S. government recently signed legislation deeming pro athletes essential workers, lifting restrictions on NHL players from other countries traveling to work into the United States. If the Canadian government doesn’t follow suit, both hub cities will be in the U.S.

Las Vegas, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Columbus are believed among the leading candidates, but they could have competition from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is allowing sports teams in his state to return to action, and the Penguins have submitted a bid to become an NHL host. 

LATEST ON THE NHL RETURN TO PLAY FORMAT

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the expanded 24-team playoff format is a one-off. “I think our regular season is incredible. Our competitive balance is extraordinary. Our playoffs are the best in sports. What we have is terrific. This is dealing with a unique situation. This, in my view, is a one-time thing.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers wondered if the league would considering expanding future playoffs if the 24-team format proves popular with fans. While Bettman is shooting down that possibility, one can’t help but wonder if the expansion of the league to 32 teams might see some within the league push for a 20-team format. 

ESPN.COM: Donald Fehr, Executive Director of the NHL Players’ Association, said the PA will defer to the proper health authorities if a player tests positive for COVID-19 during the tournament. He expects management will pick up the costs of testing players and considers it unlikely a player will be suspended or have their contract terminated for testing positive for the coronavirus. 

Fehr also said the PA continues to negotiate with the league regarding players with underlying medical conditions, living in hub cities, separation from families, and critical dates calendar, but believes the two sides will find resolutions to those issues. He wouldn’t say how much the remaining decisions might be tied to a new collective bargaining agreement. Asked if the relationship between the league and the PA has been collaborative, Fehr declined to “put any adjectives” on it, suggesting people would interpret it in different ways.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite Fehr’s comments, the two sides are working together to come up with an acceptable return-to-play plan. There’s been plenty of reports since the summer of 2018 over the appearance of an improved negotiating relationship regarding a new CBA. Nevertheless, time will tell if this means labor peace is on the horizon.

THE SCORE: listed six deals that could be in limbo involving conditional draft picks. Among them, Toronto’s conditional first-round pick sent to Carolina last June in the Patrick Marleau trade, the two picks Arizona sent to New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade, and Vancouver’s 2020 first-round pick sent to Tampa Bay for J.T. Miller that was later sent to New Jersey to acquire Blake Coleman.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said Jeff Blashill will return as head coach next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings are in the midst of a major rebuild. Blashill couldn’t be faulted for the lack of skilled depth throughout the roster this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya welcomed their second son Ilya on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Ovechkins.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said the team and the league would never put Max Domi in a situation that would expose him to COVID-19. Domi is diabetic and more susceptible to contracting the virus. Bergevin said Domi won’t play if the medical staff says he can’t play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Safe to say that will apply to all NHL players with underlying medical conditions.

Bergevin also said Jonathan Drouin is cleared to play, but Jesperi Kotkaniemi might not be fully recovered from his spleen injury to take part in the qualifying round.

AMNY.COM: New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech has been cleared to play. He’d been sidelined since January with an Achilles injury. Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Johnny Boychuk will also be ready to participate in the qualifying round.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad underwent season-ending surgery on Tuesday to repair a herniated disc

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Lawrence Pilut is reportedly considering signing a contract with a KHL team. However, this could be a negotiating ploy on his part. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

SPORTSNET: NHL Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree and former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy are among the 11 new inductees into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. O’Ree has been involved in many diversity initiatives at all levels of hockey, while Kennedy has spent years advocating to protect vulnerable athletes and victims of sexual abuse.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 8, 2020

Another milestone for Alex Ovechkin, Justin Williams returns to the Hurricanes, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin reached another scoring milestone in a 6-1 thumping of the Ottawa Senators. Ovechkin scored twice to tie Teemu Selanne (684 goals) for 11th on the all-time goal list. T.J. Oshie also scored two goals while defenseman John Carlson chipped in two assists.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is tied with Teemu Selanne with 684 career goals (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin needs only 11 more goals to surpass Mario Lemieux, Steve Yzerman, and Mark Messier and move into eighth overall. Barring injury, he should pass those three before season’s end. He needs 25 more goals to pass Mike Gartner for seventh.

The Carolina Hurricanes edged the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Dougie Hamilton. Sebastian Aho and Warren Foegele each had two points. The Flyers have lost four straight games. The Hurricanes also announced winger Justin Williams was returning to play on a one-year, bonus-laden contract with a base salary of $700K. Williams, 38, had stepped away from the game for several months. It remains to be seen where he’ll fit into the lineup or when he’ll play his first game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals might try to sign Williams before he inked his new deal with the Hurricanes. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes the veteran winger to round back into game shape and how effective he’ll be over the remainder of this season.

The St. Louis Blues snapped a three-game winless skid by holding off the San Jose Sharks 3-2. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game in the second period with an apparent knee injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An update on Couture’s status could come later today. If he’s sidelined for a long period, it’ll be a significant setback to the Sharks’ playoff hopes.

Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Carter Verhaeghe tallied his first career NHL hat trick in a 9-2 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks. Brayden Point had a four-point performance and Steven Stamkos collected three points. Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh missed the game with an upper-body injury and could remain sidelined until Saturday. The Bolts have won eight straight.

The Boston Bruins spoiled John Hynes’ debut as the Nashville Predators new head coach by rolling to a 6-2 victory. Bruins forwards Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen each had a goal and an assist while David Pastrnak netted his league-leading 32nd goal.

Elias Lindholm celebrated his 500th career NHL game with two goals as the Calgary Flames squeaked past the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1. Blackhawks center Dylan Strome left the game with an injured right ankle in the second period.

Kris Letang and Dominik Kahun each picked up two points and Tristan Jarry made 31 stops in a 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Penguins have won 12 of their last 16 while the Golden Knights’ four-game win streak came to an end. Jarry and Letang were named to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game as injury replacements.

The Columbus Blue Jackets extended their road points streak to nine games by edging the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. Zach Werenski scored two goals and Pierre-Luc Dubois collected three assists. With 50 points, the Jackets sit behind the Flyers (50 points) for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers hold a game in hand.

New York Rangers rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves (13 in the first period) for his first career NHL victory in a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin scored and set up two others. The Avs have dropped seven of their last 10 games.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up their fourth straight win by downing the Florida Panthers 5-2. Taylor Hall tallied the game-winner, Phil Kessel collected three assists, and goalie Adin Hill made 37 saves.

Anders Lee’s overtime goal lifted the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri each had a goal and an assist in a losing cause for the Devils.

The Detroit Red Wings rallied to nip the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Frans Nielsen scored twice and Filip Zadina tallied the winning goal. Ilya Kovalchuk picked up two assists for the Habs, who are winless in seven (0-6-1).

IN OTHER NEWS…

ESPN.COM: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is concerned over the recent trend of notable players skipping the annual All-Star Game. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury have opted out of this year’s game. Under league rules, a player named to the ASG who doesn’t attend faces a one-game suspension.

Daly believes the current punishment isn’t sufficient to discourage players from skipping the game, but the league might not attempt to stiffen the penalty through collective bargaining. “What we want to do is make sure everybody understands that it is an important event, not something that should be bypassed lightly. We’ll seek the help with the [NHLPA] in instilling that sentiment with the players,” said Daly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the stick isn’t working, the league should try the carrot approach. Rather than punishment, perhaps they can entice the players by sweetening the $1 million prize for the winning team in the All-Star Game.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild recalled goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen as Devan Dubnyk will skip the club’s upcoming trip to Calgary. Dubnyk will be with his wife as she undergoes a medical procedure.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens traded former first-round pick Michael McCarron to the Nashville Predators for center Laurent Dauphin. McCarron was selected 25th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Canadiens don’t have the best record in managing their first-round assets in recent years:

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 14, 2019

Blues beat the Sharks to tie the Western Conference Final, Ryan Kesler undergoes another hip surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Robert Bortuzzo snapped a 2-2 tie in the second period as the St. Louis Blues doubled up the San Jose Sharks 4-2 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final. The series is tied at a game apiece. Logan Couture scored both goals (one of them shorthanded) for the Sharks. Game 3 will be Wednesday at 8 pm ET in St. Louis.

St. Louis Blues defenseman scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues took a 2-0 lead only to see Couture erase it before Bortozzo restored their lead. Bortuzzo’s teammate Jaden Schwartz picked up his ninth goal of the postseason. This was a big game for the Blues, who bent but didn’t break against the Sharks offensive attack.

Couture, who was the leading scorer of the 2016 playoffs, is having another fine postseason. He leads all scorers with 13 goals and 19 points. 

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler underwent right hip resurfacing surgery last week. He could miss the entire 2019-20 season. The procedure is less invasive than hip-replacement surgery and allows the possibility for the 34-year-old Kesler to continue his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kesler, 34, underwent hip surgery two years ago. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery and resumes his NHL career.

Speaking of the Ducks, they were granted permission by the New York Islanders to Lane Lambert for their vacant head-coaching position. Lambert is the Islanders associate coach. 

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour is playing coy over whether he’ll replace Petr Mrazek in goal with Curtis McElhinney for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Boston Bruins hold a 2-0 lead in that best-of-seven series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mrazek had his difficulties against the Bruins in Games 1 and 2 but he wasn’t to blame for the Hurricanes’ lopsided losses. Switching goalies might provide the shake-up the Hurricanes need to pick up their play in Game 3 tonight.

NBC SPORTS: The Chicago Blackhawks re-signed defenseman Slater Koekkoek to a one-year, one-way contract extension worth $925k. The Blackhawks acquired Koekkoek from the Tampa Bay Lightning in January. 

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres rookie defenseman Lawrence Pilut underwent shoulder surgery and will be sidelined five-to-six months.