NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2022

Tuukka Rask makes a triumphant return to the Bruins, the 2022 All-Star Game rosters and captains are revealed but several notable players are passed over, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tuukka Rask made 25 saves in his season debut as he backstopped the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. David Pastrnak tallied all of the Bruins’ goals, including the game-winner on the power play to snap a 2-2 tie in the second period. Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist for the Flyers while teammate Carter Hart turned aside 33 shots. With 44 points, the Bruins moved to within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Penguins, they fell 6-2 to the Los Angeles Kings as the latter tallied four unanswered third-period goals, including three in a span of 1:23. Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored twice and set up another while Sean Durzi had a three-point performance and Jonathan Quick made 27 saves. The Kings (43 points) move into third place in the Pacific Division.

Nikita Kucherov collected two assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 24 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Vancouver Canucks 4-2. The Lightning holds a two-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with 55 points. The Canucks have lost three of their last four contests.

The New York Rangers Rangers got a 37-save shutout from Igor Shesterkin in a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks. Chris Kreider scored twice, including his first NHL shorthanded goal. Braden Schneider scored in his first NHL game. The Rangers (52 points) sit atop the Metropolitan Division while the Sharks (41 points) still cling to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with a one-point lead over the Calgary Flames.

Speaking of the Flames, they were upset 4-1 by the Ottawa Senators. Nick Paul tallied twice while Matt Murray made 27 saves for his first win of the season. The Flames have dropped four straight games.

Connor Hellebuyck picked up the shutout with a 33-save performance to blank the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Andrew Copp scored two goals and Kyle Connor scored shorthanded. The Jets (39 points) are two points behind the Sharks and one back of the Flames.

A four-goal third period carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 6-0 thumping of the Carolina Hurricanes. Elvis Merzlikins turned in a 31-save shutout and Yegor Chinakhov scored two goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes two points behind the Rangers in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

Third-period goals by Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Seattle Kraken 2-1. The Blues extended their home points streak to 13 games while the Kraken have lost eight straight. With 49 points, the Blues are one point behind the first-place Nashville Predators in the Central Division.

The Predators, meanwhile, saw their five-game win streak halted in a 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Jeff Skinner tallied twice while Aaron Dell made 29 saves for the Sabres.

Mathew Barzal broke a 2-2 tie to lift the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Barzal’s teammates Zach Parise and Josh Bailey each collected two points as the Isles’ played their first game in 11 days.

Philipp Kurashev scored in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2, handing the latter their five straight loss. Blackhawks star Patrick Kane also scored to snap a 13-game goalless drought. The Canadiens played without goalie Jake Allen, who is sidelined for a week with a lower-body injury. Teammate Chris Wideman also missed this game as he’s serving a one-game suspension for head-butting Boston Bruins forward Erik Haula.

HEADLINES

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox and Colorado Avalanche blueliner Cale Makar were among the notable first-time selections for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game to be held in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena on Feb. 5.

Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid were named captains of their respective division squads as chosen by fan voting.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link to see the full rosters as well as the candidates for the “Last Man In” for each division to be decided by fan voting.

THE SCORE: Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand, Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen, Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin were among the notables passed over for selection.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The exclusion of Markstrom, Rantanen and Ekblad could be a result of being overshadowed by their more well-known teammates. Marchand’s snub is likely tied to his well-earned reputation for questionable play.

Shesterkin still isn’t as well-known as he should be, though his profile should improve if the Rangers remain among the league’s top clubs. It won’t help him become a participant in this year’s All-Star Game but could help him garner recognition for next season’s event.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: A partial tear in a thumb tendon has sidelined Oilers goaltender Mike Smith for at least a week, possibly two. The club has recalled Stuart Skinner from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Signing Evander Kane could help resolve that issue…oh, wait, he’s not a goaltender…never mind…

SPORTSNET: Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere and Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny are among the notable players added to the NHL’s COVID protocol on Jan. 13.

AHL’s Iowa Wild signed Eric Staal to a professional tryout contract.

TSN: The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said individual active NHL players will not be permitted to take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, any player under an NHL contract cannot participate in the Beijing Olympics.

THE SCORE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Quebec finance minister Eric Girard the league isn’t aware of any opportunity at this time that would lead to a franchise returning to Quebec City.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As one observer noted on Twitter, that was Bettman’s polite way of saying, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Oh, and for those of you saying, “What about the Arizona Coyotes?”, should that club be relocated, it’ll likely be to another American city in the Western Conference such as Houston.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 20, 2021

The Avalanche thump the Kraken after signing coach Jared Bednar to a contract extension, the Canucks get a much-needed win, plus the latest injury and COVID updates in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Cale Makar scored twice and collected an assist as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Seattle Kraken 7-3, handing the latter their sixth straight loss. Andre Burakovsky also tallied two goals for the Avalanche as they collected their fourth straight victory.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

The Avalanche also announced head coach Jared Bednar inked a two-year contract extension. He’s two wins shy of tying Bob Hartley’s team record for most wins (193) as head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the rumor suggesting Bednar was on the hot seat following the Avs second-round elimination from the 2021 playoffs and their shaky start to this season. They’re climbing back up the Western Conference standings, sitting just outside of a wild-card berth.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko kicked out 37 shots as his club held on for a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets to snap a five-game losing skid. Conor Garland scored what became the winning goal in the second period. The Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied in the third period to make it interesting.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has tested positive for COVID-19. He will be monitored by the club’s medical staff and follow the protocols by the NHL and public health officials.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another hit for the reeling Canadiens in what’s becoming a season from hell for the Stanley Cup finalist.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse will be sidelined until early-to-mid December with a broken finger and blueliner Slater Koekkoek will miss three to four weeks with an undisclosed injury. Meanwhile, the status of injured goaltender Mike Smith has relapsed from day-to-day to week-to-week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The loss of Nurse will be a big blow to the Oilers’ defense corp. Smith’s status will put more pressure on netminders Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks winger Max Comtois will be sidelined for six weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a small bone in his right hand.

OTTAWA SUN: After five days without a positive COVID-19 test, the Senators are ready to emerge from quarantine and resume skating on Saturday. Their last three games were postponed as a result of a COVID outbreak but they’re scheduled to face off against the Avalanche in Denver on Monday. Eight of the 10 players who contracted the coronavirus will return to the ice today after completing their 10-day quarantine.

THE PROVINCE: The police investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been handed over to crown prosecutors. The police will be waiting to hear if there will be charge approval.

DAILY FACEOFF: Quebec premier Francois Legault will be meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the coming months with regards to bringing an NHL franchise back to Quebec City.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Easier said than done. The league has no plans for further expansion and there’s no indication an existing franchise will be relocated.

The relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg a decade ago happened very quickly as the league had to find a new home for the Thrashers after their dysfunctional ownership couldn’t find investors willing to keep the club in Atlanta. Perhaps a similar situation takes place with another franchise but Quebec City hockey fans shouldn’t hold their breath.

TSN: Canada is closing its border to unvaccinated professional and amateur athletes on Jan. 15. It won’t adversely affect the NHL or NBA as the percentage of unvaccinated players in both leagues is negligible.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 27, 2019

Sidney Crosby named MVP of 2019 All-Star Game, latest on Erik Karlsson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Team Metropolitan defeated Team Central 10-5 to win the 2019 NHL All-Star Game 3-on-3 tournament. 

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was named the MVP of the 2019 NHL All-Star Game. (Photo via NHL Images)

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was named tournament MVP, becoming the sixth players in league history to receive that honor as well as the Hart Memorial and Conn Smythe trophies during their playing careers. 

Kendall Coyne Schofield, Renata Fast, Rebecca Johnston, and Brianna Decker were informed the NHL will donate $25,000.00 in each of their names to the charities or hockey programs of their choice.

The four were invited to demonstrate events at the All-Star Game, including Coyne Schofield becoming the first woman to participate in the fastest skater competition, while Decker’s unofficial time in the Premier Passing event was three seconds faster than the official winning time of Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.

Decker wasn’t paid for her unofficial winning time but CCM Hockey stepped up and pledged her $25,000.00.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe to make the NHL All-Star skills competition more interesting, the league should invite the best all-stars from the women’s professional leagues to participate. I think it would help grow the game. 

NBC SPORTS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson is keeping mum about his undisclosed injury and his contract status. Karlsson is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson and the Sharks can’t discuss an eight-year extension until after the Feb. 25th trade deadline. They can discuss shorter deals now if they wish. He recently said there’s no timetable on anything and it would be handled privately. In other words, he doesn’t want a media circus over his contract status like the one he faced in Ottawa last year.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The LA Kings will face the Colorado Avalanche in an outdoor game on Feb. 15, 2020, at Air Force’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  

BOSTON GLOBE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said interested financial parties in Quebec City remain in regular contact with the league in hopes of bringing an NHL franchise back to that city. The Quebec Nordiques played there from 1979 to 1995 before being relocated to Denver and renamed the Colorado Avalanche. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quebec City has an NHL-caliber venue in the 18, 259-seat Videotron Centre, but as the piece points out, the city also has a relatively low number of corporations to fill the luxury boxes and invest in advertising sponsorships. If the league decides to add another franchise or relocate a struggling one, Houston, Texas, appears to be their destination of choice. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2018

Golden Knights take Game 3 of Western Conference Final, GM of the Year finalists announced and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jonathan Marchessault scored two goals and Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 33 shots as the Vegas Golden Knights doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2, taking a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final. Mark Scheifele also tallied twice, giving his a playoff-leading 14 goals. Vegas’ backup Malcolm Subban missed this game with an undisclosed injury and was replaced by Maxime Legace.

Jonathan Marchessault scored twice to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 of the 2018 Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury’s goaltending and costly defensive mistakes by Winnipeg were the main factors behind the Golden Knights’ Game 3 victory. As a result, the Jets spent the entire game trying to play catch-up. 

Kevin Cheveldayoff of the Jets, George McPhee of the Golden Knights and Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning are this year’s finalist for the NHL general manager of the year..

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Three worthy finalists for the GM of the Year award, or “The Sam Pollock Trophy”, as it should be called. C’mon, NHL, get with it!

I believe McPhee’s the favorite for building an expansion team into one of the top clubs during the regular season and a Conference Finalist in its inaugural campaign. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom could be close to returning from an injured right hand, though it could mean he’ll be unable to take faceoffs. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: After scoring just once in the Lightning’s first seven playoff games, captain Steven Stamkos have five goals in his last six games. 

SPORTSNET: Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs isn’t optimistic over the possibility of an NHL franchise returning to Quebec City. “Quebec is challenged, OK, I’m going to put it nicely. They’re challenged,” Jacobs said. “Look at the income base and the population base and there probably isn’t a smaller market, so they’re going to really have to distinguish themselves in some other way, I would think.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you’re wondering why Jacobs is weighing in on Quebec City’s expansion prospects, he’s Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors. He was also considered NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s right-hand man during the last two labor disputes. While Jacobs also said he wasn’t critical of Quebec City’s fan base, its market size and the current lower value of the Canadian dollar currently work against them landing an NHL franchise.

With Seattle likely to land the next expansion team and Houston emerging as a possible destination if a struggling team is forced to relocate, the odds of Quebec City getting a team in the near future appear remote. 

PHILLY.COM: Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin will undergo season-ending knee surgery. He’s spent most of this season with their AHL affiliate. 

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2018

Game recaps, three players fined, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen made 54 saves in a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo via NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Frederik Andersen made a career-high 54 saves while Nazem Kadri had a five-point performance (three goals, two assists) as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3. Nick Foligno had a goal and two assists for the Jackets (62 points), who remain one point out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Leafs, meanwhile, moved within four points of the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the conference. Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner left the game with some sort of lower-body spasm.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov turned in a 44-save shutout performance as his club blanked the Montreal Canadiens 2-0. Carl Soderberg and Alexander Kerfoot were the goal scorers.

Nick Bjugstad had a goal and an assist and James Reimer turned aside 34 shots as the Florida Panthers edged the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Canucks center Bo Horvat factored in all of his club’s goals, scoring one and setting up the other two. Earlier in the day, the Panthers activated goaltender Roberto Luongo off injured reserve.

Speaking of the Canucks, they announced yesterday general manager Jim Benning was re-signed to a three-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news didn’t sit well with some Canucks fans, as Benning’s rebuilding efforts have yet to yield positive results. What’s clear, however, is his bosses intend to remain patient, especially considering the promising talent he’s acquired in recent years. Benning struck gold by drafting rising star Brock Boeser in 2015, traded for forwards Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund and has a prospect pool headlined by Elias Pettersson and Thatcher Demko. If those players blossom as expected over the next three years, the Canucks’ future will be bright. 

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for slashing Washington’s Jay Beagle. Capitals defenseman Madison Bowey was fined over $1,890.00 for interference on Jets forward Matt Hendricks. Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland was fined over $2,688.00 for cross-checking Chicago’s Brandon Saad.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera (facial injury) was placed on injured reserve. He suffered the injury last week against the Anaheim Ducks after being struck in the face by a puck. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks goaltender Jeff Glass was placed on waivers yesterday. 

NBC SPORTS: Several New York Islanders fans have started a GoFundMe page to raise money to voice their displeasure about Isles general manager Garth Snow. Their intent is to install a “Snow Must Go” billboard within a half mile of Barclays Center. 

PUCK DADDY: Seattle’s NHL expansion bid has Quebec City hockey fans wondering if their city will ever get a franchise. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights scout Mark Workman died yesterday from liver cancer. He was 47. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Workman’s family and friends, as well as to the Golden Knights organization. 

 











Rambling Thoughts on Future NHL Expansion

Rambling Thoughts on Future NHL Expansion

The National Hockey League’s decision to allow a prospective ownership group in Seattle to submit a bid for an expansion franchise could have considerable repercussions.

It’s no secret the league has had interest in putting a franchise in the American Pacific Northwest for some time. Seattle has a long hockey history and is the current home of the WHL’s Thunderbirds. A competitive NHL franchise in that city would be a natural rival with the Vancouver Canucks.

Expansion to Seattle would balance out the league’s two conferences, with 16 teams in each. It’ll also be another nice cash grab for the exisiting team owners, as the proposed expansion fee of $650 million would go directly into their pockets. That’s because it isn’t counted as hockey-related revenue under the current collective bargaining agreement, an apparent lack of foresight by the NHL Players Association during the last round of CBA talks that they’re probably still kicking themselves over on a daily basis.

While the PA will miss out on in those sweet expansion fees, its membership will reap the benefits of the 23 new jobs created for the players and the additional hockey-related revenue another new franchise will generate, including higher salary-cap hikes and potentially lower escrow clawbacks from their salaries. Maybe, just maybe, that might pave the way toward smoother future CBA talks, avoiding another unnecessary work stoppage that only serves to test the patience of the league’s fans.

Expansion into Seattle, however, dims the possibility of the NHL returning to Quebec City. Despite the presence of a sparkling new 18,000-seat venue in the capital of la belle province, it’s still not enough to woo a new NHL team.

Location, of course, is the problem. The NHL doesn’t want to widen the existing imbalance between the conferences by placing another team in the East. Quebec City’s market size also pales in comparison to Seattle. Yes, it may be more hockey-mad and would be fueled as well by the rekindling of the rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, but its media reach would be limited in scale. Factor in the lower value of the Canadian dollar in recent years, and Quebec City’s chances of landing an expansion franchise appears remote.

Or is it?

The city of Houston could be another potential location for an NHL expansion club. Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets, last month met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss the potential of a pro hockey franchise in that Texas city.

Like Seattle, Houston has a long hockey history. It was home to the WHA Aeros of the 1970s and the IHL Aeros from 1994 to 2001. The city came close to landing an NHL team in 1997, when a group of local businessmen nearly succeeded in buying the Edmonton Oilers with the intent of relocating that franchise.

Should the Vegas Golden Knights build upon its current inaugural-season success and a franchise in Seattle follow suit, the NHL board of governors could be enticed to consider further expansion with new clubs in Houston and Quebec City. If potential owners in those cities are willing to pay the skyrocketing expansion fees and can prove those markets could sustain NHL clubs, it might not be a far-fetched idea.

Then again, maybe the league brain trust is keeping an eye on Houston and Quebec City as potential relocation cities for currently struggling franchises.

The impending sale of the Carolina Hurricanes to Dallas businessman Tom Dundon prompted some NHL followers to consider that club a relocation candidate. However, Bettman insists the Hurricanes aren’t moving. Besides, the earliest Dundon could move the team (if that’s what he wants) is 2024, when their arena lease expires. Trying to buy his way out of it would prove too costly.

Meanwhile, the future of the Arizona Coyotes has been in doubt for years. Bettman has stubbornly supported the franchise, currently in the midst of seeking a deal to build a new arena closer to downtown Phoenix. Should those efforts fall through, however, Houston could a tempting destination.

Should the New York Islanders’ bid to construct a new arena in Belmont Park fall through, their future in the New York area could be in question. With the Isles’ relationship with the owners of Barclays Center souring and Bettman insisting the club won’t be returning to Nassau Coliseum, Quebec City or Houston could become quick fallback plans, just as Winnipeg was in 2011 for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Houston could also be the future home of the Calgary Flames. Negotiations between the Flames ownership and the city of Calgary over a new arena are downright frosty right now, to the point where team co-owner Murray Edwards recently voiced his pessimism to his fellow league governors over the prospects of getting a deal done.

Edwards also said the Flames aren’t for sale. However, that doesn’t mean the current ownership won’t threaten to relocate if they can’t get the city of Calgary to bend to their demands over the distribution of the construction costs.

To the surprise of no one, the Flames want the city to pick up more of the tab than Mayor Naheed Nenshi is willing to spend. With Nenshi recently reelected to a four-year term, don’t be surprised if Murray and Bettman start ratcheting up the relocation threats.

Many NHL pundits doubt the Flames are going anywhere, suggesting it would be difficult for Edwards and Bettman to justify leaving a strong hockey market with a rich history. Don’t kid yourself. If the Calgary city council is unwilling to bend, the Flames will be in Houston before you can finish singing, “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.”

And they’ll justify it by painting Calgary’s municipal politicians as the bad guys for robbing the good folks of the Stampede City of their beloved hockey team, leaving the league no choice but to move to a friendlier city with a better arena.

Of course, this is merely all speculation. Seattle’s expansion bid could fall through. The league could decide that 32 franchises are quite enough. Maybe Quebec City will suffer the same fate as Hamilton, which built a big shiny arena over 30 years ago in the vain hope of attracting an NHL team. The Hurricanes could stay put in Raleigh, the Islanders could get their new home in Belmont Park, the Coyotes could get new digs in Phoenix and the Flames and the city of Calgary could eventually hammer out an arena deal.

Still, given the promise of the Vegas Golden Knights, the prospect of a successful franchise in the Pacific Northwest and the ongoing uncertainty facing several existing clubs in their current markets, the effects of a successful expansion bid in Seattle could be felt throughout the NHL over the next decade.