NHL Return-to-Play Plan: Expect Different Hockey in the Round Robin and Qualifying Round
The opening-round schedule for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs revealed, Panthers replace Bob Boughner with Joel Quenneville, Sabres fired Phil Housley, an update on Connor McDavid, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: The opening-round schedule for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was released yesterday. The puck drops Wednesday with five games that pit the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Pittsburgh Penguins facing off against the New York Islanders, the Nashville Predators squaring off against the Dallas Stars, the Winnipeg Jets facing the St. Louis Blues and the San Jose Sharks going up against the Vegas Golden Knights.
On Thursday, the Calgary Flames meet the Colorado Avalanche, the Washington Capitals clash with the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Boston Bruins.
UPDATE: The Panthers have hired Quenneville. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports sources saying his contract could be north of $30 million (plus bonuses) on a five-year deal. Quenneville, who won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, has close ties with Panthers general manager Dale Tallon, who hired Quenneville when he was GM of the Blackhawks in 2008.
After narrowly missing the playoffs last year, expectations were high for the Panthers entering 2018-19. Despite possessing considerable depth in talent that include Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, the Panthers regressed this season despite career-best performances by Barkov, Huberdeau, and others.
Boughner’s critics claim he often seemed overmatched but a lack of quality goaltending and blueline depth didn’t help matters. Tallon must now address those issues. It’s rumored he could pursue Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky via free agency in July.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres fired Phil Housley as head coach after two seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to who could replace Housley. GM Jason Botterill could take some time to find a suitable new coach. With the Sabres missing the playoffs for the eighth straight season, the pressure’s on Botterill to get this right.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings announced interim coach Willie Desjardins won’t be returning behind the bench. The Kings have reportedly asked the Edmonton Oilers for permission to speak with Todd McLellan, who was fired in November and has one year remaining on his contract.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Oilers, captain Connor McDavid confirmed he didn’t suffer a broken leg after crashing into the net during Saturday’s season-ending contest against the Calgary Flames. McDavid spoke with the media yesterday and didn’t need crutches to move around. McDavid will undergo an MRI today.
NHL.COM: The department of player safety fined Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf $2,500.00 for roughing Kings forward Adrian Kempe on Friday.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward J.T. Brown was arrested in Dallas early Saturday morning on suspicion of public drunkenness. Brown missed the Wild’s final game of the season and subsequently released a statement apologizing to his team, his family and fans for his actions.
Told that Ryan Murray’s situation remains status quo for the start of the playoffs, out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
Also told Adam McQuaid isn’t showing signs of progress yet from his upper-body injury.
Murray has missed 24 games; McQuaid has missed five.#CBJ
— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) April 7, 2019
In previous years, I’ve provided a preview and prediction of the Stanley Cup Final in this space. This year, however, I’ve done so with a special feature on Bleacher Report. Check out this line for my Complete Guide to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
I’m also part of a group of excellent sportswriters covering the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Featurd.io. Here’s a look at some of my latest.
May 24, 2018: Bad Management To Blame For Canada’s Stanley Cup Drought.
The first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs has ended and the second round is underway. I’m expected to pick which teams I believe will emerge as the winners from this round. (more…)