NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2021

Recaps from Friday’s action, the Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois, the latest notable injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin had a 34-shot shutout as the Dallas Stars crushed the Nashville Predators 7-0. The Stars tallied a franchise-record five power-play goals in their season-opener which had been delayed nearly two weeks due to a spread of COVID-19 among several players. Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski each scored twice for the Stars but captain Jamie Benn left the game with a lower-body injury following an awkward collision with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson in the second period. The club provided no update on Benn’s status following the game.

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn sidelined during season-opening win over the Nashville Predators (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals edged the Buffalo Sabre 4-3 on a shootout goal by John Carlson. Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist for the Capitals but they also lost rugged winger Tom Wilson to a lower-body injury. The Caps were playing without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov as the four were recently placed on their COVID-19 absence list. Sabres rookie Dylan Cozens tallied his first career NHL goal.

Kris Letang netted the game-winner in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a 3-1 deficit to nip the New York Rangers 4-3. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made 31 saves for his first win of the season. Former Charlottetown Islanders defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph collected an assist in his NHL debut with the Penguins.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares broke a 2-2 tie with a third-period power-play goal in a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers. The Leafs were playing without Auston Matthews and Joe Thornton. Matthews (upper-body) isn’t expected to be sidelined for long but Thornton (fractured rib) will be out for at least a month.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their first victory of the season by downing the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen kicked out 30 shots for his first career NHL win while Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk lost his first game against his former club as the Minnesota Wild picked up a 4-1 win. Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway each had a goal and an assist for the Wild while Kaapo Kakhonen got the win after replacing sidelined starter Cam Talbot, who left the game with a lower-body injury. It’s uncertain how long Talbot could be sidelined but he’s expected to miss Sunday’s rematch.

The Arizona Coyotes spoiled the Vegas Golden Knights’ home-opener with a 5-2 victory to snap the latter’s four-game season-opening win streak. Conor Garland led the way for the Coyotes with a goal and two assists. Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta (undisclosed) missed the game but will rejoin his teammates for Tuesday’s match against the Anaheim Ducks.

HEADLINES

**UPDATE**

 

TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported the Columbus Blue Jackets are closing in on a trade involving Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center requested a trade earlier this month and was benched for most of Thursday’s games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Dreger reports the Winnipeg Jets are the front-runners, although nothing is done yet. He speculates Patrik Laine or Jack Roslovic could be part of this deal as both players requested trades from the Jets. Dreger feels a trade could be done before the end of this weekend, perhaps as early as Saturday.

Pierre LeBrun points out Roslovic, a Columbus native, would be a natural fit with the Blue Jackets. He also reports the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens appear to be among the other interested clubs.

The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline tweeted Dubois was informed he’ll be a healthy scratch for Saturday’s rematch against the Lightning, assuming he’s still on the team by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was assumed Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen preferred to retain Dubois for the remainder of this season and attempt to trade the center in the offseason. Dubois’ benching on Thursday, however, appears to have created an untenable situation that cannot be allowed to fester any longer. I’ll have more about this in the Rumors section.

Speaking of Laine, he’s nursing an upper-body injury and was placed on injured reserve yesterday by the Jets. Nate Thompson (lower body) was also placed on IR.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle could return to the lineup today against the Jets after missing the last two games with an undisclosed ailment.

USA TODAY: NBC Universal will reportedly shut down its main sports channel (NBCSN) at the end of 2021. NBC owns the NHL’s national broadcast rights in the United States, with most of the league’s game televised on NBCSN. The league’s deal with the network expires at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL intended to shop around for a new broadcasting deal this summer. If they stay with NBC, their games would be shown on USA Network, which goes into more homes than NBCSN currently does.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 13, 2021

The 2020-21 season begins today. Check out the notable NHL stories in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league yesterday revealed 27 players on nine different teams tested positive for COVID-19 between Dec. 30 and Jan. 11. Seventeen of those players were with the Dallas Stars. Most were asymptomatic and all are currently recovering without complications.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Positive tests were bound to happen with the league returning to action under its current format. The high number of Stars players sidelined by the coronavirus is a stark reminder of how quickly it can spread. This probably won’t be the only incident of community spread on an NHL team over the course of this season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Speaking of the Stars, they returned to practice yesterday for the first time since last Wednesday. Fifteen players were missing, including defensemen Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell and Jamie Oleksiak and forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta, though the club didn’t reveal if their absence was due to COVID-19 protocols or injuries.

San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teams didn’t have to provide details of a player’s absence during training camp. They’re supposed to do so during the regular season.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said Evander Kane will not sit out this season. The 29-year-old left-winger filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 9 with the petition containing a clause suggesting he could terminate his contract or opt-out of playing this season. However, Boughner confirmed Kane will be in the lineup for their season-opener on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He doesn’t feel the winger’s financial woes will be a distraction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s bankruptcy probably won’t be a distraction for the Sharks over the course of the season but it could be fodder for trash-talking aimed at the winger by his opponents.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle doesn’t appear to be part of the club’s plans when their season opens on Sunday. He recently skated with a second group of fringe players and wasn’t playing with a dedicated defense partner during Tuesday’s practice. It appears the club wants Yandle to waive his no-movement clause but the blueliner said he hasn’t been asked to do so.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An interesting development with the Panthers. If Yandle becomes a healthy scratch his streak of 866 consecutive games will come to an end. I’ll have more on Yandle in the Rumors section.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller and defenseman Jordie Benn missed practice yesterday. The club would neither confirm nor deny their absences are COVID-related. More details are expected today.

Meanwhile, the Canucks announced the signing of defenseman Travis Hamonic to a one-year, $1.25 million contract. The 30-year-old blueliner attended Canucks training camp on a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamonic is the latest of several notable unrestricted free agents forced to accept short-term contracts for less than market value because of this season’s flattened salary cap. He’ll hope a strong performance with the Canucks this season will improve his chances of a better deal in this summer’s UFA market.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed winger Marcus Foligno to a three-year, $9.3 million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foligno is part of the Wild’s veteran leadership core. The annual average value of his new contract is $3.1 million. Cap Friendly indicates the deal doesn’t include no-trade protection.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed head coach Jeremy Colliton to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Colliton hasn’t enjoyed the success of his predecessor but the Blackhawks aren’t the powerhouse they once were. Management evidently sees Colliton as a key part of their current transition period as they ease more youth into their lineup.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes made a minor trade yesterday, with the Senators shipping defenseman Max Lajoie to the Hurricanes for forward Clark Bishop.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins will honor Willie O’Ree by retiring his No. 22 jersey to the rafters of the TD Garden during a Feb. 18 game against the New Jersey Devils. O’Ree was the first black player in NHL history, debuting with the Bruins on Jan. 18, 1958. He played a total of 45 games with the Bruins. O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A fitting, long-overdue tribute to a hockey trailblazer and one of the game’s finest ambassadors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2021

League commissioner Bettman weighs in on the upcoming season, Mika Zibanejad reveals COVID-19 diagnosis, Evander Kane files for bankruptcy, Mike Hoffman signs with Blues, Jay Bouwmeester retires, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Commissioner Gary Bettman said the league is prepared to lose billions of dollars to play the 2020-21 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it’s important for the game to stage the season, the players and fans wanted it, and it might help provide people dealing with COVID-19 restrictions some sense of normalcy.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (NHL.com).

Bettman also said it would be cheaper for the league not to play the season, claiming they would lose money at the club and league level. “But the owners are unanimously OK with that because they know how important it is for our fans and for the game.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman’s remarks about financial losses isn’t sitting well on the players’ side. Player agent Allan Walsh observed the commissioner neglected to mention that, under the CBA extension, the owners will be made whole for their losses by the players because of the 50-50 division of revenue. Bettman sounds like he’s still sore over the player’s firm rejection of his request last fall for increased escrow claw-backs and salary deferrals.

The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell, meanwhile, pointed out the NHL wasn’t going to risk hurting its visibility and fan engagement by shuttering its season with other major professional sports leagues staging theirs during this pandemic. Campbell also noted it would’ve pushed the NHL’s expiring US TV contract ahead to 2022, depriving them of the opportunity of landing a more lucrative deal later this year.

The commissioner revealed players will wear decals on their helmets honoring the 63rd anniversary of Willie O’Ree playing his first NHL game and to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He also announced The NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe, featuring the Colorado Avalanche facing the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 20 followed by the Boston Bruins meeting the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 prior to training camp. He missed the opening days of camp but now claims he’s feeling better. Zibanejad resumed skating with his teammates while consulting with doctors. Rangers coach David Quinn is hopeful Zibanejad will be ready for their season opener on Jan. 14 but the 27-year-old center wouldn’t confirm.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zibanejad isn’t the only player to test positive and won’t be the last over the course of this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Evander Kane has filed for bankruptcy with $26.8 million of debt and assets of $10 million. The filing also indicates the 29-year-old San Jose Sharks winger can terminate his contract or opt-out of playing this season because of the pandemic and the recent birth of his daughter. The NHL’s opt-out date was Dec. 24 while Kane’s bankruptcy filing was Jan. 9.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane could opt-out of this season rather than terminate his contract. While the league’s opt-out deadline has passed there could be an allowance here due to unforeseen circumstances. A precedent was set last summer when Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask left the club during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs to attend to a family medical emergency.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues yesterday signed Mike Hoffman to a one-year, $4 million contract. The 31-year-old winger was skating with the club on a professional tryout offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was anticipated the Blues would formally sign Hoffman once they sorted out their salary-cap situation. That includes putting a couple of players on their taxi squad for cap compliance reasons and placing Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko on long-term injury reserve.

TSN: Speaking of the Blues, defenseman Jay Bouwmeester quietly retired after 17 NHL seasons. He hadn’t played since suffering a cardiac incident on the bench during a game with the Anaheim Ducks last February. Bouwmeester played 1,240 NHL games with the Blues, Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers, finishing with 424 points. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019 and an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2014.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bouwmeester and his family in their future endeavors.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have hired former captain Shane Doan as their new chief hockey development officer. Doan retired in 2017 after 21 NHL seasons. He began his career with the former Winnipeg Jets and moved with the franchise to Arizona in 1996.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers claimed defenseman Noah Juulsen off waivers yesterday from the Montreal Canadiens.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars will return to the ice today after canceling practices and close its training facilities when six players and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks will meet with Santa Clara County officials regarding when they can return to SAP Center at San Jose. They’re scheduled to play their first home game on Feb. 1 but the county remains under a strict stay-at-home order because of a high number of COVID cases.

SPORTSNET: NBC Sports announced former NHL coach Mike Babcock will be joining the network as an in-studio analyst. He’ll replace Mike Milbury, who was let go after 14 years. Milbury was suspended by the network last summer following a series of offensive remarks he made toward women, injured players, and Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 11, 2021

The Dallas Stars remain sidelined by COVID-19, an update on the Canucks after they canceled yesterday’s practice, the latest contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: The Dallas Stars remain sidelined by a COVID-19 outbreak among six players and two staff members. The club last practiced on Wednesday. Their regular-season schedule has been revised with their season-opener now slated for Jan. 19.

Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks will resume practice today after canceling activities on Sunday as a precautionary measure due to potential COVID-19 exposure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: COVID-19 remains a factor despite the league’s health and safety protocols. Expect more canceled practices and perhaps future game postponements over the course of this season similar to those in other major pro sports leagues in recent months.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed winger Jesper Bratt to a two-year, $5.5 million deal. The restricted free agent’s contract standoff sidelined him from the Devils’ opening week of training camp.

New Jersey Devils sign winger Jesper Bratt (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will still take some time for Bratt to join his teammates. He’s still in Sweden awaiting a work visa, after which he’ll have to quarantine for seven days after traveling to New Jersey. He’ll miss their opening two games of the season on Jan. 14 and 16 and perhaps more depending on how long it takes to get his visa sorted out.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and could miss their season-opener on Jan. 14 against the Anaheim Ducks.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas left yesterday’s practice nursing what appeared to be an injured left hand or lower-left arm.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, two-way contract. He was attending their training camp on a tryout basis.

SPORTSNET: Free-agent defenseman Ben Hutton signed a professional tryout offer with the Anaheim Ducks.

THE SCORE: Promising prospect Tim Stuetzle had his first practice session with the Ottawa Senators yesterday. The 18-year-old center was selected third overall by the Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild prospect Marco Rossi is sidelined indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Rossi is the Wild’s first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2020 draft.

 










Odds are COVID-19 Will Cost Some NHL Team a Playoff Berth

Odds are COVID-19 Will Cost Some NHL Team a Playoff Berth

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2021

COVID-19 strikes the Stars and Blue Jackets, plus updates on Henrik Lundqvist, Corey Crawford and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars’ training facilities are closed indefinitely and the club’s practices canceled after six players and two staff tested positive for COVID-19. The NHL is revising the Stars’ regular-season schedule with the expectation the club won’t be able to play until Jan. 19 at the earliest. That means their season-opener on Jan. 14 and their following two games (Jan. 15 and Jan. 17) will be rescheduled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars and the league haven’t revealed which players tested positive for the coronavirus. The report noted forwards Jason Robertson, Joel L’Esperance and Tye Felhaber and defensemen Joel Hanley were missing from the Stars’ last practice but it’s unknown if those absences were injury- or illness-related.

While the Stars’ facilities are closed indefinitely they could reopen soon. As the report observed, the St. Louis Blues and Tampa Bay Lightning had several players test positive before the start of the 2020 playoffs, but their facilities opened several days later.

Despite the NHL’s health and safety protocols, it was inevitable COVID-19 would make its presence felt. Unlike the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the upcoming regular season isn’t being held in hub cities under strict quarantine conditions.

The coronavirus also affected Major League Baseball and the National Football League this season but those leagues managed to complete their seasons. This outbreak won’t prevent the start of the NHL’s overall schedule, but it means the Stars’ 56-game schedule has become more compressed.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets yesterday held 17 players out of practice for precautionary reasons. Most were regular roster players, including team captain Nick Foligno, forwards Oliver Bjorkstrand and Max Domi and defensemen Seth Jones, Vladislav Gavrikov and David Savard. The Jackets didn’t indicate if any of the absent players had tested positive for COVID-19.

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out during this weekend if those players will remain sidelined and if the Jackets will be carrying on with their practice sessions. Their season-opener is Jan. 14. The report observed the Jackets dealt with an outbreak last month during small-group workouts that closed their practice facilities for a week.

NHL.COM: Henrik Lundqvist took to social media on Friday to report he is recovering well from his recent five-hour open-heart surgery. Lundqvist had signed with the Washington Capitals but his heart condition sidelined him for the entire season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik for a swift and full recovery.

NJ.COM: Corey Crawford is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the New Jersey Devils for personal reasons. The 36-year-old goalie signed a two-year deal with the Devils in October. There’s no timeline for his return. The Devils are expected to turn to Scott Wedgewood as Mackenzie Blackwood’s backup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping things are okay for Crawford and his family and he returns to action soon.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Riley Sheahan to a one-year, $700K contract. Sheahan was attending Sabres’ training camp on a professional tryout offer.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Brendan Guhle suffered a sprained right knee during a collision with another player. He’ll be sidelined for six weeks.

CAP FRIENDLY: Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, New York Rangers blueliner Adam Fox, Pittsburgh Penguins rearguard John Marino, Washington Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov and Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk are among several players within five games of losing their waiver-exempt status.

ESPN.COM: Long-time Pittsburgh Penguins play-by-play man Mike Lange, 72, is sitting out the start of the 2020-21 season as a precaution due to COVID-19.

TSN: The province of Manitoba has given approval for the Winnipeg Jets to stage games in their home arena.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All seven Canadian teams have the approval of their respective provinces to play in their home cities this season.

THE MERCURY NEWS: Growing number of COVID-19 cases in California’s Santa Clara County is casting doubt on whether the San Jose Sharks can return to the SAP Center early next month as scheduled. The Sharks are starting the season on the road because of the county’s current restrictions on sporting events.