NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2016



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 9, 2016

Nathan MacKinnon scores one of his two goals in Team North America's 4-0 win over Team Europe in World Cup of Hockey pretournament play.

Nathan MacKinnon scores one of his two goals in Team North America’s 4-0 win over Team Europe in World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament play.

 World Cup of Hockey updates, Patrick Roy talks about leaving the Avalanche, Paul Gaustad retires & more in your NHL morning headlines. 

NHL.COM:  In World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament action, Finland edged Sweden 3-2 on an overtime goal by Olli Maatta, Evgeny Dadonov’s goal held up as the winner as Russia nipped the Czech Republic 4-3 and Nathan MacKinnon scored twice to lead Team North America to a 4-0 victory over Team Europe. 

ESPN.COM:  Team North America also named Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid their team captain, with Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere as his alternates. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE:  Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa suffered an undisclosed injury during Team Europe’s 4-0 loss to Team North America. He missed the entire third period and following the game went for x-rays. The injury isn’t serious and he’s expected to play in Team Europe’s next game.

STLTODAY.COM:  Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka suffered an apparent shoulder injury playing for the Czech Republic in their 4-3 loss to Team Russia on Thursday. It’s reportedly a clavicle injury but might not be serious. He could play in the Czechs’ next pre-tournament game on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If injuries start mounting during this tournament, it could dampen the enthusiasm of NHL owners and general managers to allow their best players to take part in future World Cup of Hockey contests. 

TSN: Former Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy claims disagreements over “the types of players and stuff like that” and “people working for the team” were behind his decision to abruptly resign last month. Roy also denied a rumor claiming the Avs decision not to pursue free agent Alexander Radulov, who played for him during their days with the Quebec Remparts, was a reason for stepping down. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It might also be a coincidence that Roy’s resignation came within two weeks of the club’s decision to re-sign defenseman Tyson Barrie to a long-term contract. Still, I’d put more credence into that speculation than that stuff about Roy having his nose out of joint because the Avs passed up a chance to sign Radulov. 

THE TENNESSEAN: After 12 NHL seasons and 727 games, center Paul Gaustad announced his retirement on Thursday. In nearly seven seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and almost five with the Nashville Predators, the 34-year-old netted 231 points and was renowned for his faceoff and defensive skills. 

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Forward Devin Setoguchi is opening up over the drug and alcohol abuse that nearly derailed his playing career. Having received treatment for his addictions, Setoguchi is on a PTO with the Los Angeles Kings in hopes of getting his NHL career back on track. 

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov is contemplating retirement if he doesn’t land another NHL job. 

SUN-SENTINEL.COM:  The Florida Panthers signed former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Adam Pardy and former Minnesota Wild forward Justin Fontaine to professional tryout offers. 

NBC SPORTS: Former Carolina Hurricanes forward Zach Boychuk accepted a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens tickets for 2016-17 go on sale Saturday. 










NHL Mid-August 2016 Musings



NHL Mid-August 2016 Musings

Patrick Roy's temperamental nature didn't help to improve the Colorado Avalanche.

Patrick Roy’s temperamental nature didn’t help to improve the Colorado Avalanche.

 As a goaltender, Patrick Roy was among the best in NHL history. He backstopped two teams (Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche) to four Stanley Cups, winning three Vezina Trophies as top goalie and becoming the only player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP three times.

As coach, general manager and owner of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, he guided that club to the 2006 Memorial Cup championship. They also topped the Eastern Division in three straight seasons from 2009 to 2011.

In Roy’s first season (2013-14) as an NHL coach, he guided the Avalanche to their first playoff appearance since 2010. As a result, he won the Jack Adams Award in 2014 as the league’s coach of the year.

For all those accomplishments, however, Roy probably did himself no favors by abruptly resigning last week as the Avs bench boss and VP of hockey operations.

Roy is renowned for his driven, temperamental nature. While it served him well as an NHL star and in running the Remparts, it couldn’t overcome the fact the Avalanche regressed over the last two seasons. Reports suggest Roy wanted the Avs to make some big moves this year via trades and free agency to bolster their lineup. Instead, they re-signed youngsters Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie to lucrative new contracts.

It appears a difference of opinion in the direction of the Avs lead to his departure. Some observers, however, suggest this move proves Roy isn’t a team player, preferring to have total control over player personnel decisions.

The NHL probably hasn’t seen the last of Patrick Roy. Perhaps he will attempt a return to the NHL in a general manager’s role. That could be best suited to his domineering personality. However, his demanding ways could make life very uncomfortable for any coach under his employ.

 

Nearly six weeks after being traded from the Nashville Predators to the Canadiens for P.K. Subban, defenseman Shea Weber traveled to Montreal and met with reporters for the first time.

If you’re wondering why such a big deal is being made over this, Weber probably asked himself the same question.

Weber is no rube. He knows he’s going from a market in Nashville where he didn’t face all-encompassing media coverage to a fishbowl existence in hockey-mad Montreal. He handled his first meeting with the press – along with the inevitable comparison questions about Subban – rather well.

But that was just a small taste of what Weber can expect in his first season with the Canadiens. Unlike the happy-go-lucky, media-savvy Subban, Weber isn’t exactly a ready-made quote machine. He could find that fishbowl existence rather annoying after a while, especially if the Habs fail to notably improve in 2016-17.

 

Unrestricted free agent defenseman James Wisniewski last week signed a professional tryout offer with the Tampa Bay Lightning. It leaves one wondering how many of this summer’s remaining UFAs might follow his lead?

NHL training camps will open in less than a month. However, notabe UFAs such as winger Jiri Hudler, defenseman Kris Russell, right wing Radim Vrbata, forward Brandon Pirri and blueliner Kyle Quincey have yet to land new contracts.

Some of them could ink deals with new teams in the coming weeks, albeit much shorter contracts for far less than they envisioned when the UFA market opened on July 1.

Others, however, could find themselves accepting training camp tryout offers in hopes of continuing their NHL careers.

 

The members of Team USA’s 1996 World Cup of Hockey roster will be inducted this fall into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

It’s a notable honor for that roster, which includes Hockey Hall of Famers Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Brian Leetch and Mike Modano. They upset heavily-favored Canada to win that tournament, marking the first time in international tournaments involving NHL players than the United States bested their northern rivals.

That victory was also instrumental in the United States’ emergence from Canada’s shadow on the international hockey stage. Its influence upon American youth hockey cannot be understated. Today’s American-born NHL stars, such as Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Jonathan Quick and Phil Kessel, can trace their big-league careers back to the inspiration of the ’96 Team USA squad.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2016



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2016

Henrik Zetterberg named Sweden's captain for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Henrik Zetterberg named Sweden’s captain for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

 Latest on Henrik Zetterberg, ongoing fallout from Patrick Roy’s resignation & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

MLIVE.COM:  Detroit Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg will be Sweden’s captain in next month’s World Cup of Hockey. He was also captain of Sweden’s men’s team in the 2014 Winter Olympics. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A back injury limited Zetterberg to only one game in the 2014 Olympics. The 35-year-old is healthier this time around and should play a more significant role for Sweden this time around. 

THE DENVER POST: Terry Frei suggests Patrick Roy’s recent resignation as coach and vice-president of hockey operations indicates how difficult it can be working for a friend. In this case, the friend being former Avs teammate turned general manager Joe Sakic. Frei believes Roy quit as the club’s head coach because he thought he’d been fired as VP of hockey ops. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the reason behind Roy’s decision, the overall belief of the pundits, bloggers and fans Is Roy quit because he wasn’t getting his way on player personnel decisions. There’s also a belief the Avs regressed under Roy’s coaching over the last two years, which is substantiated by the club’s poor defensive and puck-possession numbers

OTTAWA SUN:  Senators general manager Pierre Dorion believes he’s got a playoff team for 2016-17. Dorion would still like to add another defenseman and has yet to get restricted free agent blueliner Cody Ceci under contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  It could take some time for Dorion to add another blueliner. Ceci, who’s coming off an entry-level contract, should be re-signed in time for the start of training camp next month.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: “Nighthawks” is still in play as a possible nickname for Las Vegas’ NHL expansion franchise. 










Roy to Montreal Speculation Begins



Roy to Montreal Speculation Begins

Could Patrick Roy one day become coach of the Montreal Canadiens?

Could Patrick Roy one day become coach of the Montreal Canadiens?

 Hours after Patrick Roy resigned as the Colorado Avalanche’s head coach, speculation emerged linking him to the Montreal Canadiens. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE:  Stu Cowan reports Patrick Roy’s resignation yesterday as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche could turn up the heat on Montreal Canadiens bench boss Michel Therrien, who’s come under increasing criticism from fans and pundits after the Habs missed the playoffs last season. Cowan speculates a poor start by the Canadiens in the upcoming season could put Therrien on a short leash.

Team owner Geoff Molson’s made it clear a French-speaking coach is a very important factor for the club. Cowan doubts, however, GM Marc Bergevin is in a rush to replace Therrien, who is signed through 2021-22. With the club having dealt away a larger-than-life personality this summer in defenseman P.K. Subban, Cowan doesn’t see Bergevin and Molson being in any hurry to bring in another.  

SI.COM: Allan Muir suggests Therrien “better hope Carey Price stays healthy, and that the Canadiens get off to a great start. If not, St. Patrick’s Day could come early to Montreal.”

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector also notes some will say Roy could be Therrien’s replacement if the Canadiens struggle this fall. Roy’s desire to have control over player personnel issues, however, could make him radioactive for Habs GM Bergevin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roy won the Jack Adams Trophy in 2014 as NHL coach of the year for guiding the Avalanche to their first playoff berth since 2010. But let’s be honest here, the real reason the Avs made the playoffs was largely due to goaltender Semyon Varlamov having a career season.

At the time Roy’s critics pointed out the Avs were among the league’s worst puck-possession clubs that season and gave up the sixth-most shots-against per game. Over the next two seasons, the Avs worsening puck-possession and shots-against numbers were significant reasons why they missed the playoffs. During most of Therrien’s current tenure, the Habs had their own issues in those categories. Hiring Roy probably won’t improve those stats.

Sure, it’s tempting to link Roy to the Canadiens if they struggle this coming season under Therrien, who’s come under a considerable amount of justified criticism for his handling of the roster. Given the dire dearth of real NHL news at this time of year, talk of replacing Therrien with Roy will help fill a few days.

However, if Therrien is replaced at some point, I doubt they’ll take on Roy. His outspoken style, big personality and desire for control beyond the bench would create a toxic relationship with Bergevin and Molson. By trading away Subban this summer, they made it very clear that they don’t like outsized personalities on their team. If a coaching change becomes necessary, I think they’ll pass on Roy.

The same applies if Molson decides to shake up the front office. Yes, Roy has years of management experience from his days running the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, and he had a hand in front-office decisions with the Avalanche. However, his brash, outspoken style would clash with Molson’s quiet methods of doing business. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2016



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2016

Patrick Roy yesterday resigned as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

Patrick Roy yesterday resigned as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.

 Patrick Roy resigned from the Avalanche, updates on Jacob Trouba, Sean Monahan & more in this morning’s NHL headlines.

THE DENVER POST:  Patrick Roy surprised the hockey world yesterday by resigning as Colorado Avalanche head coach and vice president of hockey operations. Roy cited difference of opinion in the club’s direction as the reason behind this move.Terry Frei reports Roy felt he didn’t have sufficient input in player personnel decisions. Roy’s resignation caught Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic by surprise. Sakic said he believed he and Roy were on the same page, that there was no disagreement over player personnel decisions and Roy was kept fully informed.

The move leaves Sakic scrambling to find a new head coach with training camp opening next month and the start of the regular season only two months away. Current assistant coaches (Dave Farrish, Tim Army and Nolan Pratt) aren’t in the running. Frei speculates former Avs bench boss Bob Hartley and current Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen could be candidates. 

Mark Kiszla believes Roy grew impatient with losing and opted to quit. Kiszla singles out what he considers the “mamby-pamby approach by Sakic and Avalanche president Josh Kroenke’s to restoring the Avs’ lost luster.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roy seemed to favor more aggressive moves via trades and free agency to bolster the Avalanche roster, whereas the Sakic camp is taking a more patient approach. Roy also noted the club was lacking depth in draft picks. It’s also believed Roy wasn’t enamored with defenseman Tyson Barrie, who was recently re-signed to a four-year contract.

Much of the reaction I’ve seen from Avalanche fans to Roy’s resignation indicates they’re not sorry to see him go. While Roy did win the Adams Trophy in 2014 as NHL coach of the year, the Avs were often among the league’s worst defensive clubs during his tenure. He was also known to be dismissive of advanced stats, which often had his club near the bottom of the league in puck possession.

As for his replacement, the return of Hartley seems a strong possibility, given his former ties to Sakic and the team. He also won the Adams in 2015. I’m sure we’ll see more speculation on this in the coming days. 

SPORTSNET:  Mark Spector believes the reason the Winnipeg Jets haven’t re-signed defenseman Jacob Trouba yet is they have to be sure if he’ll blossom into a top-pairing defenseman before handing him a lucrative long-term deal. He also notes the Calgary Flames need to be sure Sean Monahan is fully capable of being a first-line center and that Johnny Gaudreau has the stamina to remain a top-10 scorer before handing them expensive new contracts. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can understand the reluctance on the Jets part regarding Trouba, whose development stalled last season. Monahan and Gaudreau, however, have steadily improved since their NHL debuts. Still, if the Jets and Flames want to play hardball and insist on inexpensive bridge deals or long-term, cap-friendly deals, there’s little these three can do about it. They’re coming off entry-level contracts and have little leverage.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Las Vegas’ NHL expansion franchise has registered the nicknames Red Hawks, Nighthawks and Desert Hawks. Team owner Bill Foley also said he could soon register two more names. The club is expected to reveal it’s name, logo and jersey in late-September or early-October. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like the sound of the Las Vegas Nighthawks. 

NEW YORK POST:  Brendan Burke is the new TV voice of the New York Islanders. 

CAP FRIENDLY:  reports forward Nick Spaling, who played last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and San Jose Sharks, signed with Switzerland’s Geneve-Servette HC.