NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 2, 2020

The standoff continues between the league and the players as speculation persists over what the 2020-21 season will look like. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports of speculation of the NHL owners canceling season if they decide they can’t go in 2020-21. The NHLPA could challenge that move in federal court as an illegal lockout but Dreger said force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances preventing the fulfillment of a contract; in this case, the collective bargaining agreement) would be applied by the owners because of the pandemic. He also said the league believes the spirit of the existing agreement provides them with cancellation protection. The owners also wouldn’t have to pay the players. However, Dreger points out neither side wants to cancel the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Player agent Allan Walsh took to Twitter yesterday disputing the force majeure idea. He claims if the owners cancel the season because the players won’t give another $300 million in concessions that it would be considered a lockout, “which is expressly prohibited by CBA article 7.1 (b).” In Walsh’s opinion, that would leave the owners at risk of facing billions of dollars in potential damages if the PA took them to court.

Walsh accused the league of soft-pedaling force majeure to the media. Maybe the owners are trying to frighten the players into making more concessions. Perhaps it’s being done to lay the groundwork against any potential media/fan backlash over a potential cancellation.

With reports claiming the NHL and the PA remain determined to stage a season, this could be just posturing by the league. We’ll find out for sure in a couple of months. There might not be a season at all if there’s no puck drop by mid-February.

Pierre LeBrun reports the PA has stuck to its guns that it hasn’t agreed to anything beyond the terms of the memorandum of understanding and the CBA extension. That could change but for now, they believe the league should stick to the terms of the agreement.

LeBrun adds the PA’s return-to-play committee has held regular conference calls but there’s some frustration on their part over a perceived lack of urgency on the league’s part.

Frank Seravalli reports the preference for both sides is opening the season in all 31 NHL arenas for revenue purposes as well as allowing players to spend more time with their families. The league recognizes it will have to be flexible with the schedule and locations because of the rising COVID-19 cases throughout North America, which could result in potential neutral-site games. Hybrid bubbles are also a backup option but not a preferred one.

LeBrun said the temporary realignment of divisions, including a Canadian division, remains locked in. However, a firm decision hasn’t been reached yet over what the three American divisions would look like.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think most of those issues will be quickly sorted out once the standoff between the NHL and NHLPA over the league’s request for increased escrow and salary deferral rates is resolved. The framework for those decisions appears to already be in place.

FOX SPORTS’ Andy Strickland reports some NHL players are delaying returns to their respective NHL cities. He believes we’re destined for a 48-game schedule hopefully beginning in late January or early February.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s pretty much the consensus among NHL pundits and most fans.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings loaned minor-league goaltender Calvin Pickard to the Vienna Capitals in Austria. He’s the 10th player the Wings have loaned overseas and could be a sign the league’s proposed Jan. 1 start date is increasingly unlikely.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers have 20 players loaned to European clubs, including Jesse Puljujarvi and Tyler Benson.

TSN: The ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears announced they’ve agreed to terms with free-agent goaltender Garret Sparks for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. Sparks spent parts of three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t that long ago Sparks was considered the logical backup to Leafs starter Frederik Andersen.

Calgary Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow is in good spirits following surgery on Monday to insert a feeding tube into his stomach. Snow was diagnosed with ALS in June 2019 but continues in his role with the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Snow in his battle against that terrible disease.

NBC SPORTS: The Dallas Stars revealed their all-white Reverse Retro uniforms over the weekend.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Great camouflage tactic by the Stars.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2020

The latest return-to-play news, more reaction on the Sabres’ front-office purge, and updates on Jonathan Drouin, Pavel Datsyuk, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


TSN: The NHL’s bottom line could face a short-term blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. Last season, the league cracked $5 billion in revenue for the first time. Former Buffalo Sabres managing Larry Quinn speculates that could be cut in half in the short term. It’s already being felt among several clubs, with at least 10 having laid off or furloughed employees and executives taking pay cuts.

Could an influx of NHL players in Las Vegas increase coronavirus rates in the area?

The players, meanwhile, are bracing themselves for lost salaries with an ongoing deferral of their final paychecks for this season. Hockey analyst and former NHL GM Brian Burke reported one option being discussed is the further deferral of part of players’ wages until revenues bounce back.

Gate revenue will be affected as long as fans are prohibited by COVID-19 restrictions from attending games. The reduced value of the Canadian dollar will also take a toll on league revenue, as well as uncertainty over the league’s next U.S. television deal. That’s led to questions over what the salary cap will look like and the effect upon a new collective bargaining agreement.

Sports attorney Irwin Kishner believes the NHL must consider out-of-the-box promotional ideas to generate revenue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the league and the NHL Players Association is considering starting next season on Jan. 1, 2021, in hopes fans will be allowed back in arenas by then.

Various reports suggest both sides could maintain the salary-cap at $81.5 million for next season to ensure teams don’t have to significantly slash player payrolls. There’s also talk of a CBA extension implemented before the playoff tournament begins in August.

It will be interesting to see the effect of the pandemic beyond next season. The league wants a full 82-game schedule starting next January, but a second COVID-19 wave could force them to scrub part of it and reducing hockey-related revenue for 2021-22.

SPORTSNET: Iain MacIntyre weighed the pros and cons of Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver as one of the NHL’s two proposed host cities for its playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The biggest sticking point is Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone arriving from abroad. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated his government is comfortable with one of those Canadian cities as an NHL hub provided local health officials are ok with it. So far, officials in those three cities have expressed support.

LAS VEGAS SUN: With Las Vegas considered a lock as one of the two NHL host cities, Justin Emerson reports local officials believe the presence of players from 12 NHL teams won’t spread the coronavirus further into an area that’s already infected.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 12 NHL teams will be quarantined away from the general public in a bubble area encompassing the arena, training facilities, and hotels where they’ll be staying. The players will be tested daily and anyone testing positive will be quarantined.  A greater concern is whether rising COVID-19 numbers in the Las Vegas area poses a threat to the players. 

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Equipment changes, such as full-face shields, haven’t been part of the ongoing return-to-play talks between the league and the PA. Both sides are focused on off-ice protection from the coronavirus.


THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun was critical of the Sabres’ constant hirings and firings, especially among their management and coaching staff. League officials told LeBrun it takes around five years for a general manager’s program to take hold. Former Sabres GM Jason Botterill and his predecessor, Tim Murray, each had three years in the role.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy believes Kevyn Adams, the Buffalo Sabres new general manager, will be scrambling to replenish his club’s scouting and development after those departments were gutted in a front-office purge earlier this week. Compounding the problem is finding suitable talent to fill those roles during a pandemic.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli posted the complete list of those who were fired by the Sabres. Their scouting department was hardest hit, slashed from 21 down to seven.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time will tell if the Sabres’ moves will pay off. If recent history is anything to go by, don’t expect much improvement. It doesn’t help that some observers are already writing off Adams as a yes-man for Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Fully recovered from wrist and ankle injuries, Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin is looking forward to participating in the playoff tournament.

In other Canadiens news, Hall-of-Famer Bob Gainey raised over $300K from the sale of his hockey memorabilia. A portion will be donated to the Canadiens Children’s Foundation.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller isn’t considering retirement after undergoing four surgical procedures on an injured kneecap. He hasn’t played since April 2019 and is an unrestricted free agent following this season.

BOSTON HERALD: Bruins blueliner John Moore has fully recovered from the shoulder surgery that limited him to 24 games this season.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Calgary Flames assistant GM Chris Snow is showing remarkable resilience as he battles ALS. Given six to 18 months to live, an experimental drug has lengthened his horizon and maintained his quality of life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Snow in his ongoing fight with this dreadful disease.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: A report from Russia Today claimed Hall-of-Famer Pavel Datsyuk was said to be holed up with his family with a rogue priest at a Russian monastery. Keith Gave, author of “The Russian Five”, said he spoke with Datsyuk’s agent, who said the Datsyuk family is actually spending time at their cottage.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dan Milstein posted a video this morning showing his client splitting wood at his cottage.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 19, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, waiver news, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen turned aside 35 shots backstopping his club to a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Brayden Schenn and Mackenzie MacEachern tallied for the Blues, who’ve won eight of the last 11 contests. Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen made 42 stops as his teammates went 0-for-4 on the power play.

Jake Allen made 35 saves as the St. Louis Blues held off the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 (Photo via NHL Images).

The New Jersey Devils picked up their first win since trading Taylor Hall on Monday, downing the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri, and Sami Vatanen were the goal scorers. The Ducks were playing without forwards Troy Terry and Derek Grant. Terry is out 10 weeks with a broken leg while Grant is sidelined four-to-six weeks with a sprained AC joint.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz made 31 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ian Cole each collected two points. The Avs have won nine of their last 11 games. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith returned to the lineup following a nine-game absence with a sprained groin while Brent Seabrook was a healthy scratch.



THE SCORE: In his first press conference since being traded to Arizona, Taylor Hall said he was excited to join the ascendant Coyotes. “That’s one of the great things about what’s going on here is that there seems to be a buzz building,” he said. Hall assisted on the game-winning goal in his first game with the club on Tuesday.

TWINCITIES.COM: After a month-long absence, Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk could return to action tonight against the Arizona Coyotes. He’s been on a leave of absence tending to his ailing wife.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mathieu Perreault is out indefinitely with a concussion while forward Andrew Copp is week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

THE DETROIT NEWS: With Jimmy Howard set to return from injury, the Red Wings placed goaltender Eric Comrie on waivers.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed forward Stefan Noesen on waivers.

CALGARY SUN: Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The 38-year-old father of two is enrolled in a clinical trial to treat the disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping the treatment works for Snow. Best of luck to him in this fight against this deadly disease.

The Flames placed winger Austin Czarnik on waivers.

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL forward George Ferguson passed away Sunday at age 67. He spent 12 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Minnesota North Stars, tallying 160 goals and 298 points in 797 career games, including four straight 20-plus goal seasons with the Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ferguson’s family, friends, former teammates, and associates.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2019

The latest on  Antti Raanta, Nolan Patrick, Alex Galchenyuk,and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Oft-injured Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. An injured knee sidelined Raanta for 59 games last season.

Arizona Coyotes starting goalie Antti Raanta is day-to-day with a lower-body injury (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta’s health was cause for concern entering this season. Fortunately for the Coyotes, they can rely on backup Darcy Kuemper. He was solid last season, winning a career-high 27 games for the offense-challenged Desert Dawgs, sporting a 2.33 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Nolan Patrick was diagnosed with a migraine disorder and is listed as week-to-week. He’ll miss the club’s season opener next week. General manager Chuck Fletcher said the club’s doctors don’t believe the disorder is linked to any previous hits.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tough break for Patrick, who struggled through a sophomore slump last season. Here’s hoping he makes a swift recovery.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk missed practice yesterday with an undisclosed injury that kept him out of the lineup for Wednesday’s preseason game. He’s listed as day-to-day.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves expects to play in the club’s season opener next week. He’s been dealing with an undisclosed injury during the preseason.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche sent highly touted prospect Bo Byram back to his junior team, the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Byram was the Avs first-round pick (fourth overall) in this year’s NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers expected Byram to crack the Avs lineup this season. Best to give him another season in junior rather than rush him into NHL action.

CBS SPORTS: The Boston Bruins signed defenseman Alex Petrovic to a one-year, two-way contract and placed him on waivers for the purpose of sending him to their AHL affiliate.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames promoted Chris Snow to assistant general manager.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur underwent successful quadruple-bypass surgery yesterday. He’s expected to make a full recovery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Get well soon, Flower!

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2018

Islanders fire GM Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight, plus the latest on the Capitals, Golden Knights, Auston Matthews & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello yesterday relieved general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties. Lamoriello takes over as GM and begins the search for a new coach. He said things remain “status quo” for the coaching and scouting staff.

Andrew Gross lists Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe, former Florida Panthers assistant coach John Madden, former Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils assistant coach Scott Stevens, former NHL coach Brent Sutter, Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz and Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith as potential replacements for Weight behind the Islanders bench. 

New York Islanders fire GM Garth Snow (pictured above) and head coach Doug Weight. (Photo via NHL.com)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Few folks were surprised by these moves by Lamoriello. While it was assumed the contracts of Snow and Weight might keep them around for at least another season, it’s apparent Lamoriello wants to quickly change the Islanders’ culture.

Snow had a mixed record as Isles general manager, hampered in part by a shoestring budget under former owner Charles Wang for nearly a decade. Regardless, the Islanders failed to significantly improve during his tenure.

It’ll be interesting to see if this move affects Lamoriello’s efforts to re-sign Islanders captain John Tavares, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. I’ll have more on that later this morning in the Rumors section. 

WASHINGTON POST: Game 4 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final broke the Capitals’ TV viewership records, drawing a 22.9 local household rating. 

SPORTSNET: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller suffered a broken nose during Game 4 when he was hit in the face by Capitals winger T.J. Oshie. Despite the injury, Miller still finished the game.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday announced former North Stars general manager Jack Ferreira was named an assistant GM.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews has changed agents. He’s joining OrrHockeyGroup, which is led by Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr. The group also represents Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting move by Matthews, whose entry-level contract expires next July. He can be re-signed to a contract extension by the Leafs as early as July 1. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of McDavid, his rookie card sold online for a record $55, 655.

BOSTON HERALD: Sad news out of Wakefield, Massachusetts, as former Boston Bruins star Johnny McKenzie is reportedly dying. The 80-year-old is resting comfortably at home. McKenzie played 13 seasons in the NHL and six in the WHA, winning two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins.  After his playing career ended, McKenzie overcame alcoholism and reconciled with his children. His family is considering donating his brain after his death for CTE research. 


Random Thoughts on the NHL – Mid-March 2018

Random Thoughts on the NHL – Mid-March 2018

Close Race for Richard, Art Ross Trophies. With over two weeks remaining in this season, there’s no runaway contender for the goal scoring and points crowns.

As of March 17, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (91 points) remained the points leader, sitting atop the board since late-November. However, he’s now being challenged by Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (89 points apiece), with Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (86 points) close behind.

The race for the goal-scoring crown is even closer. Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin leads the field with 42 goals, but Winnipeg Jets sophomore winger Patrik Laine (41 goals) and Malkin (40) are in position to potentially overtake the Capitals’ captain.

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne appears to be the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this season (Photo via NHL Images).

 Rinne for the Vezina. During the first half of this season, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy seemed the clear-cut favorite to take home the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. However, it appears increasingly likely that honor will go to long-time Nashville Predators starter Pekka Rinne.

Rinne is a three-time finalist (2011, 2012 and 2015) for the Vezina Trophy. He battled complications from hip surgery in 2013 and 2014 and overcame an inconsistent 2016-17 campaign to backstop the Predators’ run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

With Rinne at the top of his game, the Predators overtook the Lightning for first overall in the league standings. They’re also the first club this season to clinch a postseason berth.

Vasilevskiy leads all NHL goaltenders in wins (40) and is tied with Rinne for most shutouts with seven. However, the 35-year-old Predators netminder is just one victory shy of Vasilevskiy and leads all starters in goals-against average (2.25) and save percentage (.929). Those numbers are superior to Vasilevskiy’s 2.53 GAA and .922 SP. If Rinne can maintain his lead in those categories, the Vezina will be his.

Lightning in trouble? Speaking of Vasilevskiy, his recent struggles adjusting to his first full season as an NHL starter is just one troubling aspect of late for the Lightning.

At first glance, the Bolts seem to be doing fine, winning seven of their last 10 games. But after dominating the standings for most of this season, the Nashville Predators passed them last week in the overall standings while the Boston Bruins are challenging them for first in the Eastern Conference.

Four of the Lightning’s five victories entering this week required overtime or shootouts to resolve. They were recently humbled 7-4 by the lowly Ottawa Senators and blanked 3-0 by a Bruins lineup missing Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk.

Vasilevskiy’s recent difficulties also explain why the Lightning slid out of the top-ten in goals-against per game average, sitting 11th at 2.80. Meanwhile, their faceoff-win percentage (47.8) is the league’s third worst and their penalty kill (76.3) is sixth-worst.

Granted, it’s late in the season and the Lightning are assured of a playoff spot and home-ice advantage. With little to play for other than the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record, perhaps the Bolts are having a little difficulty getting up for these meaningless final games of the schedule.

The Lightning remain a very deep, powerful club and are among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this spring. However, they’ll need a better effort between the pipes, in the face off circle and on the penalty kill in the postseason to win their first championship since 2004.

Time running out for Garth Snow? The long-time general manager of the New York Islanders has retained his job through 12 seasons. During his tenure, they missed the playoffs seven times and advanced past the opening round only once. He’s survived an ownership change and several questionable roster and coaching moves.

But with the Isles all but certain to miss the postseason for the eighth time under Snow’s management, one has to wonder if he might be on thin ice.

The key to Snow’s future with the Islanders could be convincing team captain and franchise player John Tavares to re-sign a lucrative long-term deal. Tavares is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Money probably won’t be an issue as Isles ownership will likely open the vault to keep Tavares in the fold. Selling him on the club’s future, however, could be a significant sticking point. Snow must convince Tavares the team is building toward championship contender status. So far, there’s little indication they’re trending that way.

If Tavares re-signs, Snow’s job is probably safe for at least another year. But if the long-time Islanders star decides his future lies elsewhere, Snow could be out of a job this summer.

New Playoff Format Coming? Last week, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun canvassed 29 general managers regarding a possible change in the current playoff format to accommodate more teams. Twenty of them believe it’s worthy of consideration.

LeBrun reported the topic isn’t likely to come up during the upcoming meeting of NHL general managers. He also said league commissioner Gary Bettman was cool to the idea. But with the NHL poised to welcome its 32nd franchise by 2020-21, it’s only a matter of time until the league adopts a new format for the first time since the early-1980s.

It’s difficult to say what changes to the current 16-team playoff system the league might eventually embrace. Perhaps it’ll be a 20-team format that opens with a best-of-three or single-elimination games involving the lower seeds, followed by best-of-seven rounds involving the remaining clubs.

The opportunity for teams to make extra playoff revenue will likely prove too tempting to pass up. Don’t be surprised if we see an expanded format within five years.

Dubie-Dubie-Do. Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk picked up his 200th career win on Saturday. Since being acquired by the Wild in January 2015, he’s backstopped them to four straight playoff appearances and has them on the verge of another this season.

Meanwhile, two of his former teams, the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes, have just one playoff appearance between them over the same period.

Food for thought.