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.


Potential Destinations If the Coyotes Move

Potential Destinations If the Coyotes Move

If the Arizona Coyotes relocate, where could they go?

The never-ending saga over the Arizona Coyotes’ future took an interesting turn last week. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested the club could move if the Arizona state legislature failed to authorize $225 million in public funds to construct a new arena in (or near) downtown Phoenix.

Since 2003, the Coyotes have played in Glendale, about nine miles from downtown Phoenix. Over the last seven years, Issues over the club’s ownership and the arena lease with the city of Glendale have at various times raised questions over their future in Arizona.

Bettman walked back his previous statement, claiming the league isn’t giving up on Arizona as a hockey market. However, he stressed that a new arena closer to downtown Phoenix remains crucial to the franchise’s long-term future.

It remains to be seen, of course, if the state approves funding for a new arena. If not, moving the Coyotes out of Arizona could be among the league’s options. There’s been plenty of relocation chatter swirling about the franchise over the last seven years but nothing’s come of it.

Bettman and the league have stubbornly persisted in keeping the money-losing Coyotes in Arizona. Their patience, however, isn’t endless. Assuming there’s no new arena coming in the near future, they could bow to the inevitable and move the team.

Should the Coyotes move, Quebec City seems the obvious destination. It lost out on an expansion bid last year to Las Vegas and has a brand-new 18,259-seat venue (Centre Videotron) that’s perfect for an NHL franchise. Media giant Quebecor owns the new arena and could be keen to acquire a franchise.

The NHL has a history In Quebec City, as it was home to the Quebec Nordiques from 1979 to 1995 before that franchise was sold and moved to Colorado. It’s a great hockey town and returning there would would rekindle a once-intense rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens.

The downside, however, is market size. While the Quebec City metropolitan area grew in the two decades since the Nords’ departure, it would still be among the league’s smallest (over 800,000).

The province of Quebec is among the highest-taxed in Canada, which could be a downside for some players. It would also create a significant imbalance in the league’s current makeup, putting 17 franchises in the Eastern Conference and leaving 14 in the Western Conference.

Kansas City would be a much shorter move to a much-larger market (over 2.4 million). Like Quebec City, it has an NHL-ready arena (the 17,544-seat Sprint Center). K.C. had a short-lived NHL franchise (the Scouts) back in the mid-1970s. Moving there would keep the Coyotes in the Western Conference and could create a natural hockey rivalry with the St. Louis Blues.

However, no one’s stepped forward and indicated a willingness to put an NHL franchise in Kansas City. A potential owner would have to split arena revenue with the owners of the Sprint Center, Anschutz Entertainment Group.

During last year’s expansion bidding, there was talk of a couple of potential ownership groups interested in bringing a franchise to Seattle, Washington. It’s a market with a hockey history.

Early in the 20th century, the Metropolitans (1917 Stanley Cup champions) of the old Pacific Coach Hockey League called Seattle home. The Western Hockey League’s Thunderbirds have been in that city since 1977.  

Seattle has a huge market (over 4.4 million) and is close to Vancouver, BC, creating a potential natural rivalry with the Canucks. Moving there would also ensure the Coyotes remain in the Western Conference.

The biggest stumbling block, however, is the lack of a suitable venue to host an NHL franchise. A new arena is supposed to be constructed in the near future, but with emphasis on attracting a professional basketball franchise. Given the NHL’s current unhappy experience with the New York Islanders in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, it could balk at being second fiddle in a new Seattle venue. 

During the league’s great expansion in the 1990s, Portland, Oregon was sometimes brought up by the media as a possible destination for an NHL franchise. During the early years of the last decade, when a low Canadian dollar threatened the futures of the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, Portland was whispered as a potential relocation option for one of those franchises. 

Portland has an NHL-ready arena in the 18, 280-seat Moda Center. Like Seattle, it also hosts a WHL franchise (the Winterhawks). As with Kansas City and Seattle, it’s a big market (over 3.1 million) and moving the Coyotes there would keep them in the Western Conference.

But as with Kansas City, no one’s indicated any serious interest in bringing an NHL team to Portland. No bid was received during last year’s expansion process. 

What about returning to Hartford, Connecticut? That city housed an NHL franchise (Whalers) from 1979 to its relocation to Carolina in 1997. Hartford has a bigger market than Quebec City (over 1.4 million). The city and state are obviously keen to bring back the NHL, having recently asked the New York Islanders’ ownership to consider moving their franchise to the XL Center in downtown Hartford. There’s talk of doing millions in renovations to make the arena NHL-ready.

As with Kansas City and Portland, no potential owners have expressed interest in bringing a franchise back to Hartford. The Isles ownership isn’t expected to seriously consider relocating out of New York. Like Quebec City, moving the Coyotes there would create an imbalance among the conferences.