NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021
The Coyotes could need a new home after this season, Auston Matthews to grace the cover of EA Sports NHL 22, an update on Zdeno Chara and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang reported yesterday the city of Glendale informed the Arizona Coyotes it is opting out of its joint lease agreement for Gila River Arena, making the 2021-22 season the club’s last at the facility.
Strang indicates this notice comes following months of stalled negotiations between the two sides regarding terms for a lease extension, arena renovations, and multiple notices of outstanding and delinquent balances owed by the club as part of the current lease agreement.
“We’ve reached the point of no return,” said city manager Kevin Phelps, who oversees day-to-day operations and is also responsible for the arena management contract. “There’s no wavering”.
Coyotes president Xavier Gutierrez released a statement expressing the club’s disappointment with the decision. He is hoping the city will reconsider its position and restart negotiations for an extension.
AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Craig Morgan reports skeptics such as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman view the city’s position as merely a negotiating ploy. Phelps was adamant that’s not the case.
“I’ve made my recommendation and told the (city) council what I was going to do, and I’ve got the full support of our city council,” he said. Phelps maintained the decision is in the best interest of the entertainment district and of the city.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long, tempestuous history between the Coyotes and the city of Glendale could be in its final chapter. The club has signaled its intent to build a new arena in or near downtown Phoenix. Morgan wondered how long Glendale would remain patient with the Coyotes’ year-to-year approach. Barring a last-minute change of heart, their tolerance is at an end.
This news sparked conjecture over whether the NHL will finally relocate the troubled franchise to a market such as Quebec City or Houston. Rest assured Bettman and the league will explore every option to keep the club in Arizona. Those efforts, however, will depend on where and when a new arena will be constructed. They certainly won’t have one built in time for the 2022-23 season.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will grace the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 22. He was also on the cover of NHL 20. Matthews was the winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as last season’s leading goal scorer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The news sparked some criticism on social media from non-Leafs fans. It’s a sign we’ve truly reached the dog days of summer. I doubt his visage on the cover will prevent gamers from buying it.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: A source claims it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a reunion between the Boston Bruins and former captain Zdeno Chara. The 44-year-old free-agent defenseman prefers playing in the Eastern Conference as his family still lives in Boston. Two other sources didn’t rule out Chara returning to the Bruins in a coaching or player management position if he decides to retire.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings bought out the contract of veteran forward Frans Nielsen. It will cost them $4.25 million against their cap this season but drops to $500K next season. The Wings also named Pat Verbeek as the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Red Wings can afford to absorb Nielsen’s still-hefty buyout cap hit for this season. Cap Friendly shows them with over $19 million in cap space for 2021-22 following the buyout.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Ryan Reaves has put his home in Summerlin on the market for $1.2 million. He was traded to the New York Rangers in July.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres 2021 first-round pick Owen Power is returning to the University of Michigan for another season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That sparked speculation by some fans on social media suggesting Power didn’t want to play for the troubled Sabres. In reality, the young defenseman indicated he was considering returning to college this season well before the NHL draft.
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski takes a deep dive into the NHL’s decision to allow ads on player jerseys. Among the many interesting tidbits:
Ads for alcohol, tobacco and marijuana products won’t be allowed. Ditto anything sexualized.
There will be limitations for sportsbook gaming ads. Fans will be able to buy team jerseys without the ads.
The league is also limiting sales to one sponsor on the jersey. It is also adamant the jerseys won’t look like those in European leagues that feature multiple ads.
THE PROVINCE: The Canucks were among the first NHL teams to briefly have sponsors on their practice jerseys in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Those didn’t last long as the league brain at the time frowned upon it.