NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury reaches a career wins milestone, J.T. Miller expresses concern about the Canucks returning to action on Friday, Jack Eichel done for the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 485th career victory as he backstopped the Vegas Golden Knights over the Los Angeles Kings 6-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time NHL wins list. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and two assists for the Golden Knights, who remain in second place in the Honda West Division with 60 points.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves in his debut with the Colorado Avalanche as they held off the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while Blues winger Mike Hoffman tallied twice. The Avalanche sit atop the West Division with 64 points while the Blues (44 points) remain in fourth place. They played without goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to be sidelined for two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent acquisition of Dubnyk proved timely for the Avs. With Grubauer on the shelf and regular backup Pavel Francouz out of the season, they would’ve been in big trouble without an experienced netminder to fill the void. Dubnyk’s no longer in his playing prime but should provide some short-term stability between the pipes.

The Arizona Coyotes missed an opportunity to overtake the Blues by dropping a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. The Coyotes have lost five straight and remain one point back of the Blues. Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the Wild as they sit in third place with 53 points.

A 27-save performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have lost four of their last five and sit four points back of the Blues.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive in the Scotia North Division by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves as the Flames (41 points) picked up their third straight win to sit just four points behind the Canadiens, who’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ postseason hopes seemed all but dashed a week ago. They were mired in a lengthy losing skid while the Canadiens were playing .500 hockey and seem assured of clinching a playoff spot. The odds still favor the inconsistent Habs as they hold three games in hand over the Flames with several key games coming up between those two teams.

Laurent Brossoit stopped 27 shots as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. With 55 points, the Jets opened a three-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North Division.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller spoke out yesterday against his club’s scheduled return to action on Friday after he and his teammates were sidelined for nearly three weeks by a recent COVID-19 outbreak. He believes the Canucks haven’t had sufficient time to recover and return to play, especially with eight players still on the COVID-19 protocol list. He feels he and his teammates would be at greater risk of injury, adding they’re also concerned over the health of their family members who also contracted the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported the Canucks players met with the NHLPA. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the PA, NHL and Canucks medical met to determine if the club is healthy enough to play on Friday. A decision is expected later today.

None of the Canucks want to opt-out of completing the season, but they have justifiable concerns about their health and safety right now. It could take at least another week for enough of them to be healthy enough to safely return to action.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of COVID-19, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson was placed on the NHL’s protocol list as a precautionary measure after the AHL postponed three Toronto Marlies games. Robertson recently played with the Marlies before skating in the Leafs’ last two games.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel will not return this season because of a herniated disk in his neck. He’s expected to be recovered and healthy for 2021-22. The Sabres also announced Jason Karmanos has been hired as associate general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s been sidelined since March 7 so I don’t think anyone’s surprised by this announcement. It’s just another blow in a seemingly unending series of them this season for the sad-sack Sabres.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars announced goaltender Ben Bishop (knee surgery) and winger Alexander Radulov (core muscle injury) will miss the remainder of the season. The Stars also signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $750K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop underwent surgery last fall. He was on track to return in two weeks’ time but his condition reportedly worsened and they decided to shut him down for the season. Tyler Seguin is still expected to return soon from offseason hip surgery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Conor Sheary signed a two-year, $3 million contract extension yesterday. The annual average value is $1.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The plans to construct a new arena for the Calgary Flames have been put on hold over budget concerns. The parties involved in the construction are pausing to review and resolve the issues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2020

The players could end up owing the owners millions of dollars by the end of this CBA, plus the latest on Braden Holtby, Nick Robertson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: During the latest “31 Thoughts” podcast, Elliotte Friedman speculated the next round of collective bargaining between the NHL and NHL Players Association at the end of the current CBA could be affected by the players’ unwillingness to accept a higher rate of escrow and additional salary deferrals for the coming season.

Friedman noted the effects of COVID-19 upon hockey-related revenue means the players’ share for this season will exceed 50 percent. Under the terms of the CBA, the players have to repay any overage to the owners, but the 20 percent cap on escrow for 2020-21 means the players will still owe millions of dollars to the owners.

The players may feel vindicated by digging in their heels and forcing the league to adhere to the terms of the CBA. However, Friedman feels there’s a major bill coming due at the end of the current agreement that will be paid in large part by young players currently starting their NHL careers and those yet to come.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players were within their rights under the CBA to reject the league’s requests for additional escrow and salary deferral. But as Friedman also noted, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was right when he indicated the players could end up paying back more at the end of this agreement if they didn’t pay that overage during the coming season.

This could set the stage for another contentious round of negotiations as the extension to the CBA expires in September 2026. Of course, that’s not a front-burner issue right now given the push for staging a season in the middle of a pandemic. Rest assured, however, it will take on greater significance during the final two years of the agreement.

Perhaps the two sides can work out a deal that avoids another potential work stoppage in six years’ time. That will require considerable foresight on both sides.

I don’t expect Bettman and the team owners to just let this issue lie. Sure, they need labor peace right now to get a shortened season underway in order to fulfill their broadcasting and advertising contracts and prepare to entertain bids for a more lucrative US television deal next summer. They also want to ensure a smooth path for the Seattle Kraken’s debut in 2021-22. However, the NHL could raise the overage issue with the players again at some point within the next couple of years.

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith lists his winners and losers of the NHL’s proposed divisional realignment for the coming season. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are among his clubs that benefit while the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks are among those that could suffer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some teams will be affected more than others by the quality of the opponents within their realigned divisions. Time zones and travel could also become a factor.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Braden Holtby said he won’t wear the new Indigenous-themed mask he planned to use this season following complaints that it appropriated aboriginal culture. “I just wanted to make sure I apologize to anyone I had offended,” said Holtby.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson won’t be joining Team USA at the upcoming World Junior Championship in Edmonton. The Leafs training camp is slated to open during the tournament.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Former hockey agency executive David Ludwig has been hired by the Arizona Coyotes as their new director of hockey operations and salary cap compliance.