NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2021
The NHL and NHLPA agree to begin its holiday break on Wednesday as COVID cases continue to spread among the teams, the three stars of the week are revealed, an update on the Coyotes arena dispute, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The league and the NHL Players Association agreed to commence its holiday break on Wednesday, Dec. 22, as COVID cases continue to spread among its 32 teams.
The two remaining games on the schedule will be played today as the Washington Capitals face off against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Vegas Golden Knights.
Players will report back to their teams on Sunday, Dec. 26, for testing, practice and/or travel only. No individual in a team’s traveling party shall enter team facilities (other than for testing purposes) until they have a negative test result.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rapid spread of the coronavirus and the resultant multiple game postponements left the league and the PA with no choice but to commence its holiday break two days earlier than planned. The hope is it will slow the spread and allow players emerging from mandatory 10-day quarantine more time to return to their respective lineups.
This move casts further doubt over the NHL’s participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. An announcement is expected in the coming days.
SPORTSNET: provides a daily updated list of players currently in COVID protocol and the number of games postponed.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames reopened their practice facility yesterday after a third straight day without a positive COVID test. The club was the hardest hit by the latest wave with 19 players, three coaches and 10 support staff in COVID protocol.
NHL.COM: Jamie Benn and Miro Heiskanen each had a goal and an assist as the Dallas Stars downed the Minnesota Wild 7-4 in the only game on Monday’s schedule as the other four were postponed. Kiril Kaprizov had a goal and two assists for the Wild, who’ve lost four straight games.
Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 19, 2021.
SPORTSNET: cites reports indicating the Arizona Coyotes met the deadline for paying the remainder of its outstanding bills (totaling $930K) with the city of Glendale. The city council had threatened to lock the club out of Gila River Arena for the remainder of the season unless it paid off its outstanding debts for this year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will remain in Gila River Arena for the remainder of 2021-22. However, the city of Glendale announced it will not renew its lease with the club following this season.
The Coyotes have submitted a bid to build a new arena in Tempe, Arizona. Assuming they receive approval it will take several years before they’ll be ready to move into the new venue. It’s believed the club is exploring local alternatives.
THE SCORE: cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reporting that the Buffalo Sabres sought a high asking price from the Anaheim Ducks for Jack Eichel. He said the Sabres wanted Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and two first-rounders but the Ducks didn’t want to give up that much. Eichel was subsequently traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for forward Alex Tuch, prospect Peyton Krebs, a first-round pick and a second-rounder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make. Zegras and Drysdale are two promising youngsters playing key roles in the Ducks’ surprising improvement this season.
TSN: The Los Angeles Kings placed defenseman Alex Edler (left ankle fracture) and Sean Walker on long-term injury reserve and called up center Quinton Byfield.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Jacob Zboril recently underwent knee surgery. He’s been sidelined since Dec. 2 and there’s no word as to how long he’ll be on the shelf.
NHL.COM’s Dave Stubbs reports former NHL goaltender Curt Ridley has passed away at age 70. He played 104 games over six seasons from 1974-75 to 1980-81 with the New York Ranger, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ridley’s family, friends and former teammates.