NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2021

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.

Gila River Arena (NHL.com).

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.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 11, 2021

Check out the latest on Jack Eichel, T.J. Oshie, Owen Power and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: During a recent interview with a Boston TV station, Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel was asked if he could ever see himself playing in Boston.

“Yeah, I mean, I think every kid grows up dreaming of playing for their hometown teams,” Eichel said. “Whether that happens now, later in my career … whenever, who knows, if it ever happens. It would be pretty cool, but who knows what’s gonna happen here in the next little bit.”

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s hometown is Chelmsford, Massachusetts, so it’s not surprising he would say he’d welcome an opportunity to play for the Bruins one day. His remarks, however, will only provide more fodder to the trade speculation swirling around him this summer.

The Bruins have the cap space to absorb Eichel’s $10 million annual cap hit, but their focus is on finding a top-four, left-side defenseman and re-signing pending free agents like Taylor Hall and Brandon Carlo. They could also bring back long-time Bruins Tuukka Rask and David Krejci on short-term deals.

Eichel might one day suit up for the Bruins, but it seems unlikely he’ll do so this year.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: T.J. Oshie hasn’t spoken with Capitals management about the possibility of being exposed in the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Oshie was born in Washington State and Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol coached him at the University of North Dakota. However, the 34-year-old winger wants to finish his career with the Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During an interview last month, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said he was unlikely to expose Oshie in the draft. We’ll find out for certain when the expansion draft protection lists are made public by the NHL on July 18.

RDS: Speaking of the expansion draft, the league will be holding a virtual conference with the general managers on Monday to review the rules and procedures. Teams must submit their protections lists by 5 pm ET on July 17.

NHL.COM: Top prospect Owen Power would have no problem being selected by the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first-overall selection in this year’s upcoming NHL Draft. The University of Michigan defenseman said it would be “nice and close” to his home in Mississauga, Ontario. He also praised the Sabres’ rich history. “I would love to be a part of it,” he said. The first round of the draft is Friday, July 23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever selects Power might have to wait at least a year before he joins their lineup. The 18-year-old blueliner has indicated he’s leaning toward returning to college for another season.

THE SCORE: The lawyer for former Chicago Blackhawks player who alleged former video coach Brad Alrich sexually assaulted him said her client won’t participate in the team’s investigation into the incident.

Lawyer Susan Loggans said they have no faith in any investigation paid for by the Blackhawks, pointing out they’ve denied any sexual misconduct ever took place. She also said there’s no assurance from the team or anyone else that the results of the team’s investigation would be made public.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 7, 2021

The latest on the Canadiens and Lightning, top prospect Owen Power still leaning toward returning to university, the Kraken announces the hiring of two assistant coaches, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Expect the Canadiens to ice the same lineup in Game 5 as they did in their previous contest. That means Jake Evans will replace Jesperi Kotkaniemi again on the third line while Alexander Romanov and Brett Kulak will replace Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on the third defense pairing.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That shouldn’t come as a surprise considering those changes contributed to their 3-2 victory in Game 4. Romanov scored an even-strength goal with an assist from Evans.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is enjoying perhaps the best postseason performance of his career. He’s set up several big goals, leads all postseason skaters with a plus-minus of plus-14, and is one of his club’s top shot blockers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDonagh’s been overshadowed by teammates such as Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Points, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Victor Hedman. Nevertheless, he’s a big reason why the Lightning holds a 3-1 lead in this series over the Canadiens.

ESPN.COM: A league source told Greg Wyshynski there is “zero chance” Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final will be postponed despite Tropical Storm Elsa bearing down on Tampa Bay. That assessment was made based on the forecast, though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated they have “an amount of flexibility.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, unless the storm’s impact proves far worse than anticipated, it’s game on tonight in Tampa Bay.

WGR 550: University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power is still leaning toward returning to university for one more season before making the jump to the NHL. Power is ranked as this year’s top prospect. He is expected to be selected by the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the first-overall pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams might prefer a prospect who could be ready to jump to the NHL right away. However, it’s unlikely Power will drop in this year’s draft order. Many highly-touted prospects need another year or two of seasoning before they’re ready for the big time.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken yesterday announced the hirings of Kelly McFarland and Jay Leach as assistant coaches. McFarland will oversee the power-play unit and forwards while Leach will be in charge of the defensemen.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed goaltender Scott Wedgewood to a one-year, two-way deal worth $825K at the NHL level.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed defenseman Christian Wolanin to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets yesterday signed center Dominic Toninato to a two-year contract worth $750K at the NHL level. It’s a two-way deal in the first season.

CBS SPORTS: Former Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer signed a one-year contract with KHL team AK Bars Kazan.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have hired Alan Hepple as their new director of pro scouting. He’s the former director of amateur scouting with the Colorado Avalanche.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2021

The Jack Adams Award finalists are announced, the 2021 draft order is set through the first 27 picks, plus the latest on Nikita Kucherov, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Rod Brind’Amour of the Carolina Hurricanes, Dean Evason of the Minnesota Wild, and Joel Quenneville of the Florida Panthers are this year’s finalists for the Jack Adams Award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brind’Amour and Evason are first-time finalists. It’s the third time for Quenneville, who took home the award with the St. Louis Blues in 1999-2000.

All but the final four spots in the 2021 NHL Draft have been determined. The first 15 positions were determined by the draft lottery on June 2. The 12 teams eliminated from the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs are slotted into positions 16-27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Buffalo Sabres hold the first-overall pick. Follow the link above for the full list.

THE ATHLETIC: Owen Power, the top prospect in this year’s draft, said he’s leaning toward returning to the University of Michigan next season. “It’s something I’d like to do just trying to get the true experience of playing college hockey,” said Power. “At the end of the day, it obviously depends on what the team wants and what everyone around me thinks is best.”

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Probably a wise decision on Power’s part. Too many young players have hampered their development making the leap into the NHL before they’re ready.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov responded to complaints about his club placing him on long-term injury reserve during the regular season to garner cap relief as he recovered from offseason hip surgery. He said he didn’t make the LTIR rules and spoke about the long recovery process away from the game.

I didn’t do it on purpose, obviously. I had to do the surgery. I had to go through the whole five months of rehabilitation, and when the time came (when) I was ready to play, it was the playoffs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was interesting to hear Kucherov’s side of the story. He also spoke about the monotony and frustration he experienced going through the rehab process while his teammates were chasing a playoff spot.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said he wasn’t very confident in Jeff Petry, Jake Evans or Jon Merrill returning to the lineup in time for Game 1 of their semifinal series with the Vegas Golden Knights. All three are sidelined by various injuries. Ducharme didn’t rule out the possibility of them rejoining their teammates later in the series. Game 1 goes Monday night in Las Vegas.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Canadiens, they’ve asked the Quebec government to increase capacity for their home games. They’re currently allowed to have 2,500 fans in attendance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I blame them. The Vegas Golden Knights are now allowed full capacity for their home games. It gives the players a lift hearing more fans cheering them on. Whether the Quebec government agrees to the proposal and how many more fans could be allowed into the Bell Centre remains to be seen.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will undergo hip surgery in the offseason that will sideline him until January or February of 2022. Fourth-line center Curtis Lazar suffered a sprained knee in their series with the New York Islanders Defenseman Kevan Miller and Brandon Carlo both suffered concussions.

Jeremy Lauzon underwent surgery on his right hand following an injury in Game 1 against the Washington Capitals and returned wearing a splint. Craig Smith suffered a groin injury during the Islanders series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask’s surgery and lengthy rehab could have an effect on his contract negotiations with the Bruins. He’s an unrestricted free agent on July 28.