David Backes to retire with the Blues, the Blackhawks to honor Patrick Kane and three others later this season, the Rangers intend to name a captain this season, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
STLTODAY.COM: David Backes yesterday signed a one-day contract with the St. Louis Blues to officially retire as a member of the team. The 37-year-old forward spent the first 10 of his 15 NHL seasons with the Blues (2006-07 to 2015-16), five of those as team captain. He spent his final five seasons with the Boston Bruins and Anaheim Ducks, playing his final NHL game on May 5.
David Backes during his tenure as St. Louis Blues captain (NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Backes and his family in his future endeavors.
Backes’ best seasons were with the Blues, exceeding 50 points five times. He was a key player in the club’s emergence from several seasons of rebuilding into a perennial playoff contender.
In his prime, Backes garnered a well-earned reputation as a versatile, physical two-way forward. Age and injuries hampered his performance during his final seasons. He finishes with 248 goals and 561 points in 965 career NHL regular-season games, as well as 39 points in 82 career playoff contests.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks announced they’ll honor Patrick Kane’s 1,000th career NHL game during a pregame ceremony on Oct. 21. Kane achieved that milestone last season without fans in the building. The club also intends to honored retired Blackhawks Andrew Shaw, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers general manager Chris Drury indicated his preference to name a team captain for the upcoming season. That role has been vacant since former captain Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2017-18.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larry Brooks listed veteran defenseman Jacob Trouba and 2021 Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox as potential candidates.
TSN: Historian and journalist Stan Fischler, former Philadelphia Flyers player, coach and executive Paul Holmgren, and former NHL player turned color commentator Peter McNab are this year’s inductees into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. They’ll join the class of 2020 in an induction ceremony in December.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Fischler, Holmgren and McNab for this well-deserved honor for their contributions to hockey in the United States.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos bought a new home on Davis Island for $8.35 million. He sold his previous home in that area for $16 million.
THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said his club’s players and staff will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to start this season.
OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, they and the Ottawa Senators continue to await word from the province of Ontario regarding a possible easing of restrictions on the number of fans allowed into their respective arenas to start this season.
NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars named former NHL goaltender Al Montoya as their new director of community outreach.
HITMENHOCKEY.COM: The Calgary Hitmen named former Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan as an assistant coach.
The Devils fire head coach John Hynes, the Canadiens snap a lengthy losing skid, changes could be coming for NHL coaches, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Hours before their game against the Vegas Golden Knights, the New Jersey Devils fired head coach John Hynes, replacing him on an interim basis with Alain Nasreddine. The move, however, could prevent the Devils from dropping a 4-3 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault tallied a natural hat trick in the third period for the win.
The New Jersey Devils yesterday fired head coach John Hynes (Photo via NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given the Devils’ poor performance thus far, it’s not surprising Hynes was fired. He deserves his fair share of the blame, but can’t be faulted for the lousy goaltending, weak secondary scoring, and lack of defensive depth. Nevertheless, the club’s lack of effort in his final two games was indicative that he’d lost the players.
The Montreal Canadiens snapped their eight-game winless skid by doubling up the New York Islanders 4-2. Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber each had a goal and an assist for the Habs, who commemorated their 110th anniversary by honoring 11 former captains in a pre-game ceremony. Among the notables were Hall-of-Famers Yvan Cournoyer, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Guy Carbonneau. Saku Koivu, the captain from 1999 to 2009, received the biggest cheer.
Four first-period goals powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Antoine Roussel scored on his first shift in his season debut after being sidelined eight months by a knee injury. Before the game, former Canucks winger Alex Burrows’ name was added to the club’s ring of honor.
Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak turned in a 24-save shutout in a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Charlie Coyle and David Krejci tallied both goals in the third period. The Bruins have won eight straight games.
Minnesota Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen kicked out 44 shots in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Wild are unbeaten in their last 10 games (7-0-3).
Five third-period goals powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1. Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers collected three assists while Travis Konecny and Shayne Gostisbehere each had a goal and an assist. Before the game, the Leafs placed Nick Shore on waivers, recalled defenseman Martin Marincin, and announced Trevor Moore (shoulder injury) is weeks away from returning to the lineup.
A three-point performance by Carl Soderberg helped the Arizona Coyotes defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves for the win.
Nikita Kucherov scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Nashville Predators 3-2. Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each had two points on the night. Kyle Turris had a goal and an assist for the Predators. Nashville center Ryan Johansen was ejected from a game for elbowing Lightning center Brayden Point in the face.
The Winnipeg Jets picked up their seventh win in their last nine contests by downing the Dallas Stars 5-1. Jets winger Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Dmitry Kulikov will be sidelined for two months with an upper-body injury.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson collected three points while teammates Jakub Vrana and Garnet Hathaway each scored twice in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
TSN: Former NHL player Akim Aliu believes big changes are coming to the NHL after meeting with commissioner Gary Bettman and other officials at the league’s office in Toronto yesterday. Aliu’s claims that Bill Peters made racist remarks to him a decade ago led to the latter’s stepping down last week as Calgary Flames head coach.
Frank Seravalli reports some of the topics discussed at the meeting include “comprehensive harassment and discrimination policy, whistleblower and retaliation protection for players, encouraging more diversity and inclusion and breaking the culture of silence.”
The NHL Coaches’ Association released a statement yesterday affirming there is no room for abusive behavior by coaches at any level. They are working with the league and the NHL Players Association to ensure respectful working environments for everyone.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Sean Avery spoke out in support of Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford, who was placed on leave as the club investigates allegations of abuse against him. Avery recently said Crawford kicked him during a game but defended the coach’s actions. “He had every right in the world to kick me in the ass. He should have spanked my ass a little bit more. I deserved it. I loved Crow.” He went on to call Crawford his second-favorite NHL coach.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators players Dylan DeMelo and Mark Borowiecki claim they had a good relationship with Crawford during his tenure with the club. Former Senator and Canucks Alex Burrows praised Crawford for helping him become an NHL player.
Another former Canuck, Harold Druken, accused Crawford of physical and verbal abuse when he broke into the league. “I can’t believe he’s still coaching, I wouldn’t let him coach my dog,” said Druken.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings coach Todd McLellan believes players and coaches do their best not to cross the line between right and wrong. However, he acknowledged the changes in the game and society means that line has also changed. He believes it’s important to build trust and treat his players with respect, and expecting it in return.
“The line between pushing a player — I’m not talking physical — but getting the player to maximize his physical talents and to get a team to pull together and go further into their toolbox than they ever have, is delicate,” McLellan said. “Sometimes feelings are hurt. There’s never an intention behind it, but there are feelings that get hurt.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no place in the league, or anywhere else. for racism, which was what resulted in Peters’ downfall. There’s no place for physical abuse, which is what he was also accused of by two other former NHLers.
Crawford, Mike Babcock, and Darryl Sutter weren’t accused of racism, but emerging stories of alleged physical and verbal abuse toward their players have made headlines in recent days. Those tactics may have been effective but it appears they sometimes went too far. Some players shrugged it off or accepted it as part of the game, but others felt tormented by those actions.
Just because many former players tolerated unnecessary abuse by a few coaches doesn’t mean today’s players have to. A coach can motivate and improve their players without resorting to bullying, humiliation or threats.
CBS SPORTS: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith could miss at least two more games with a nagging groin injury.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist will be sidelined “longer term” with an undisclosed injury.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Matt Stajan announced his retirement. Stajan played 14 seasons and 1,003 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. He spent last season playing in Germany for EHC Red Bull Munchen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s wishing Stajan and his family all the best in his future endeavors.
Latest on Martin Brodeur, Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson, Brett Connolly and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils yesterday announced Martin Brodeur was returning to the club as their new executive vice president of business development. Brodeur spent all but one of his 22 NHL seasons with the Devils during his Hall of Fame career. He recently left the St. Louis Blues after spending several seasons as their assistant general manager.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds believes his agent and Flyers GM Ron Hextall have had preliminary discussions regarding a new contract. For now, he’s focusing on returning healthy for the upcoming season after recovering from offseason pelvic surgery. Hextall has said several times he’d like to re-sign Simmonds, who’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds is unconcerned over lack of progress in contract extension talks (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers could take a “wait-and-see” approach with Simmonds to assess his performance in the coming season before getting down to serious contract talks.
THE ATHLETIC (Subscription required): Defenseman Jack Johnson is keeping mum over his final days with the Columbus Blue Jackets but he’s very happy to be a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who signed him as an unrestricted free agent earlier this summer. Johnson was a healthy scratch during the Blue Jackets first-round playoff series last spring against the Washington Capitals.
WASHINGTON POST: Capitals winger Brett Connolly said he won’t be joining his teammates during their visit to the White House commemorating their Stanley Cup championship. Connolly said it had nothing to do with politics, adding he wouldn’t be surprised if several other teammates also didn’t go. Connolly joins Devante Smith-Pelly in skipping the event. The Capitals have yet to receive a formal invitation from the White House. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” said Connolly, who added his decision was “about what’s right and what’s wrong and we’ll leave it at that.”
CALGARY SUN: Former Flames forward Matt Stajan has signed with Red Bull Munchen of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Stajan spent 15 NHL seasons with the Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs.
THE SCORE: Former San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward remains hopeful of landing with another NHL club when training camp opens in two weeks time. Heading to Europe isn’t something he’s put at the top of his minds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Age and injuries took a toll on the 37-year-old Ward last season. He could end up on a professional tryout offer if he hopes to secure an NHL job for 2018-19.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Tod Leiweke, the president and CEO of the group heading up Seattle’s NHL bid, said they will be meeting with league executives in early-October to begin the process of getting approval to become the NHL’s 32nd franchise. If all goes well, the y could make their pitch before the league board of governors in December.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If approved, the first season for a Seattle franchise would be 2020-21.
SPORTSNET: NHL teams apparently take a dim view of players spending too much of their free time playing video games, especially the game Fortnite. Excessive gaming is considered an unnecessary addictive distraction that hampers a player’s development.
Game recaps, Steven Stamkos fined, change coming for goalie interference review process and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby picked up his 700th career assists in a 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens (Photo via NHL Images).
NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby reached his 700th career assist as his club downed the Montreal Canadiens 5-3. Crosby also scored a highlight-reel goal on Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who was returning to action after being sidelined since Feb. 20 by a concussion. With the win, the Penguins (89 points) move within two of the Washington Capitals for first in the Metropolitan Division.
Jaden Schwartz scored twice, including the overtime winner, as the St. Louis Blues edged the Boston Bruins 2-1. The Bruins, however, clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 100 points. Bruins rookie Ryan Donato scored for the second straight game. The Blues (85 points) sit two back of the Los Angeles Kings for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
The Anaheim Ducks (88 points)vaulted into third place in the Pacific Division by blanking the fading Calgary Flames 4-0, spoiling the 1000th career game of Flames center Matt Stajan. Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 29 saves for his fourth shutout of the season. The Flames remain stuck at 80 points and sit seven points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller set a franchise record for most assists (35) and points (55) by a rookie in his club’s 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Keller collected two assists to achieve the milestones.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for a dangerous trip of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly during a recent game.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce and forward Victor Rask will miss the remainder of the season to shoulder injuries.
SPORTSNET: The Philadelphia Flyers traded the rights of college prospect Cooper Marody to the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round pick in 2019.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some of you might be wondering how this trade can take place after the trade deadline. The reason is this move doesn’t involve any NHL players and thus has no effect upon playoff eligibility. FYI, Marody leads the Big-10 in scoring with 46 points in 37 games. Doesn’t mean he’ll crack the Oilers lineup one day, but at least he has some measure of potential.
TSN: NHL general managers on Wednesday ” recommended shifting the decision from on-ice officials to the league’s situation room in Toronto.” The decision received swift approval by the NHLPA and now needs the final sign-off by the NHL board of governors. If approved, the change could go into effect in time for the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin on April 11.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This won’t magically make the problems of inconsistent calls for goalie interference go away but hopefully it’ll reduce the instances.
Latest on the Blackhawks & Golden Knights – June 1, 2017
The Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights are reportedly working on a deal that could involve Trevor van Riemsdyk (left) and Marcus Kruger.
A deal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vegas Golden Knights could be close, plus a look at four expensive players the Golden Knights should consider selecting in the expansion draft.
TSN: Frank Seravalli yesterday reported the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks could be working out a trade ahead of the June 21 expansion draft. The deal would see the Golden Knights select defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the draft on the condition Vegas acquire center Marcus Kruger via trade. Seravalli claims the deal isn’t 100 percent done yet but appears likely.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas general manager George McPhee recently said his club’s first trade could come as early as next week. Perhaps this is the deal he’s referring to.
With three defensemen (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson) and four forwards (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Artem Anisimov) carrying no-movement clauses, the Blackhawks are limited in how many players they can protect.
Depending on the return to the Blackhawks, this would be a straightforward salary dump on their part. They currently have over $77 million invested in 22 players for next season. They would shed nearly $4 million in cap space by moving Kruger ($3.083 million annually) and van Riemsdyk ($825K).
Seravalli’s colleague Pierre LeBrun replied that he’s also heard the Golden Knights could receive a first-round pick from a team if they take on a bad contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun didn’t say which club could be making that pitch, but there are several that could be keen to make that move. The Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues are among several teams with limited cap room for 2017-18 in need of shedding some salary, especially if the cap ceiling fails to significantly increase. Speaking of which….
SPORTSNET: Jonathan Willis lists the Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, Edmonton Oilers winger Benoit Pouliot, Calgary Flames center Matt Stajan and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov as four expensive players the Golden Knights should consider selecting in the expansion draft. He believes they would address Vegas’ need for versatile players capable of playing many minutes and in multiple situations who could be long-term fits or have trade potential in the next two seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of the four on this list, Bogosian would be the best bet. That being said, he last played over 70 games back in 2010-11 and hasn’t developed into the top-pairing blueliner he was projected to become. At over $5.1 million for the next three seasons, the Golden Knights are unlikely to get full value for their money. The Avs are believed intent on protecting Varlamov in the draft. Unless they’ve had a significant change of heart, we can probably rule him out.
Pouliot’s a versatile forward but his inconsistent play and $4 million annual cap hit isn’t likely to make him a worthwhile addition for Vegas. Stajan’s a decent depth center and has only one season remaining on his contract at an affordable $3.125 million, but he turns 34 in December and his best seasons are well behind him now.