NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 29, 2020

The playoff schedule resumes today, former Panthers GM under investigation for uttering a racial slur, plus updates on Andrei Svechnikov, John Tortorella, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The league has released its revised schedule for the resumption of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 4 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins begins at noon ET, Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders starts at 7 pm ET, and Game 3 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks begins at 9:45 ET. The Lightning holds a 2-1 series lead over the Bruins, while the Flyers and Islanders and the Golden Knights and Canucks are tied at a game apiece.

 SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders what steps the NHL will take in the wake of the recent player protest against racial injustice to ensure the fight for equality isn’t forgotten. He cites TSN’s Rick Westhead reporting the Hockey Diversity Alliance has requested the league to invest $100 million over 10 years to fund anti-racism, education, and grass-roots initiatives. That works out to just over $312K per team or less than half the minimum salary of one player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a reasonable request by the HDA. It’ll also be interesting to see if the NHL Players Association will be working alongside the league in this matter or if they’ll be taking their own steps.

SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts said his club lost season-ticket holders over its support of Black Lives Matter and protests over racial inequality. He claimed it was a mix of individual and company accounts. “But I/we stand by our organization’s commitment and support our players 100% to express their views,” said Alberts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first report I’ve seen by a team regarding the loss of season-ticket holders over the players’ recent protests. Alberts didn’t specify how many season-ticket holders the Stars lost. It could’ve been a large number or a handful. He also said none of the club’s advertisers have pulled funding.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW(subscription required): George Richards reports the NHL is investigating whether former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon used a racial slur while representing the team. Tallon has been accused of using racially-charge language at some point during the Panthers time in the Toronto playoff bubble.

Tallon denied the charge. “I am not a racist by any means,” he said. “I have never said anything of the sort. I am all for peace, am all for this alliance and what everyone is trying to do right now.”

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports the $25,000 fine levied by the league on Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is the 15th time he’s been punished by the league. Portzline estimates Tortorella has lost “well over $200,000” because of “his mouth and his temper.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t think Tortorella is losing any sleep over those fines. While he’s mellowed a bit over the years, he remains outspoken and irritable. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov said he’d be ready to go if his club were still in the postseason. He was sidelined two weeks ago by a high-ankle sprain suffered in his club’s first-round series with the Boston Bruins. Svechnikov said he’s now feeling at almost 100 percent.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a one-year contract extension worth $750K.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings loaned defenseman Filip Hronek to Mountfield HK of the Czech League. He’s the fifth player the Wings have loaned to European clubs. All are scheduled to return to the Wings once NHL training camps later this fall.

THE PROVINCE: The death of popular Vancouver sportswriter Jason Botchford was revealed to be caused by an accidental overdose of cocaine and fentanyl. Botchford died suddenly last April at age 48. He covered the Canucks for The Province from 2005 to 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s still a tragic, heartbreaking loss for Botchford’s family, friends, and the hockey community regardless of the cause of death.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 8, 2020

Check out the latest Penguins, Panthers, Oilers, and Predators speculation as they head into the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.

PENGUINS

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski examined some off-season keys for the Pittsburgh Penguins following their qualifying-round exit. The Pens must decide between restricted free agent goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry. They also need to shore up their blueline and are expected to re-sign most of their young RFA forwards.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Matt Vendel wondered if the Penguins will move on from Murray just three years after choosing him over Marc-Andre Fleury. Given their limited salary-cap space, he also speculated over whether general manager Jim Rutherford might dangle veteran defenseman Kris Letang in the trade market to shake up the core or perhaps think even bigger.

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers think the decision to start Jarry over Murray in that crucial fourth game against the Canadiens indicates the latter could hit the trade block following the post-season. Murray will be more expensive to re-sign than Jarry. With the cap remaining flat, that could seal Murray’s fate.

Cap Friendly indicates Letang has a list of 18 preferred trade destinations.  Moving a 33-year-old defenseman carrying an annual average value of $7.25 million on a contract with two seasons remaining won’t be easy in this new economic environment.

PANTHERS

ESPN.COM: Kaplan and Wyshynski wondered what will become of Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon after reports emerged Friday saying the club would soon part ways with him. They need to build up their roster depth but they’re also reportedly planning to cut payroll for next season.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin speculates winger Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov could be departing via the unrestricted free agent market as it could cost a combined $15 million to re-sign them. Larkin believes improving the blue line should be the Panthers’ priority. 

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Rob Simpson noted defenseman Mike Matheson was scratched from the Panthers’ lineup following his poor performances in the first two games of their qualifier against the New York Islanders. Matheson could draw some interest in the trade market, where his affordable $4.25-million AAV would be a good selling point. His modified no-trade clause doesn’t kick in until 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon attempted to improve the Panthers’ defense corps before the trade deadline but didn’t find any deals to his liking. The decline in Matheson’s performance saw him briefly surface in this season’s rumor mill. Maybe a change of scenery will do him good, depending on how much interest he draws in the trade market.  Dadonov and Hoffman could be moving on If the Panthers are planning to cut payroll.

OILERS

ESPN.COM: Kaplan and Wyshynski believe the Edmonton Oilers must provide more support for superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Both carried the bulk of the offensive load in their qualifying series loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers need two-way forwards, they must sort out their defense, and upgrade their goaltending.

THE ATHLETIC: Daniel Nugent-Bowman feels adding another offensive forward and a top-four defenseman should be imperative for the Oilers. He also recommends adding a bottom-six forward and a replacement in goal for Smith.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers could stick with the promising young defensemen within their system. They must find a reliable starter. Mike Smith is aging and Mikko Koskinen is inconsistent. Affordable two-way forwards should be available via trades or free agency. With over $71.3 million invested in 17 players, finding sufficient cap space could be an issue.

PREDATORS

ESPN.COM: Kaplan and Wyshynski believe the Nashville Predators must decide if they can afford to re-sign Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith or determine which one to keep. They also wonder if center Kyle Turris will factor into their plans. He’s struggled in Nashville but his $6-million annual salary through 2023-24 makes him difficult to move.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell wonders if it’s time for the Predators to promote GM David Poile and bring in a new look to their front office. They’ve been on the decline since reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Final and winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Campbell points out, scoring depth has long been a problem for the Predators. Cap space will be an issue as they’re carrying over $72.2 million committed to 17 players. Shedding Turris would help but his salary and performance won’t be palatable to other teams this summer. Poile is the only general manager in Predators’ history, but it could be time for a fresh outlook.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2020

The latest on the league’s efforts to resume the season, an update on the 2020 NHL Draft, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

LATEST ON THE NHL’S ATTEMPT TO RESUME THE SEASON

THE MERCURY NEWS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman dismissed the notion the league won’t resume its season and award the Stanley Cup later this year. Speaking at a virtual town hall hosted by the San Jose Sharks for its business alliance, Bettman said he wasn’t contemplating canceling the season. “I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done,” Bettman said.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman not contemplating canceling this season (Photo via NHL.com)

Bettman also suggested that close discussions with the NHLPA on the current situation could lead them closer to a CBA extension. He indicated the league’s Seattle expansion franchise remains on pace to begin in 2021-22. He acknowledged the need for standardized cleansing of arenas. Bettman also said the league is working on new ways to connect with its fans through social media and other means.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The possibility of long-term labor peace between the NHL and NHLPA could be the silver lining that emerges from this pandemic. The current CBA expires in 2022. The last thing the league needs is another lockout within two years of a shortened season. 

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In an interview with Pierre LeBrun, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league hasn’t locked into any potential playoff format. Daly also indicated the league and the PA hopes to launch Phase 2 of its Return to Play plan at some point over the next month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Growing speculation suggests the NHL could return with a 24-team playoff format. There’s also talk of jumping straight into a 16-team format based on current standings or points percentage, or a 20-team format to allow playoff bubble clubs an opportunity to play their way into the post-season bracket.

Daly said there remains no rush on the league’s part to stage the 2020 NHL draft in June. LeBrun believes we could find out one way or the other sometime next week. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reports teams are stepping up their preparations for this year’s draft while awaiting final word from the league. LeBrun speculates Bettman and Daly could be having second thoughts about their scheme for a June draft after getting pushback from general managers. Daly has indicated the league needed a month to prepare if they hold the draft in June. If they give the go-ahead next week, the draft could be held between June 17 and 23.

Regarding the possibility of resuming the season in four neutral-site host cities, Daly indicated the league is starting to cut down the list of possible hosts. LeBrun points out the league has a window between July and October to resume the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: B.C Premier John Horgan will speak with Bettman today about Vancouver becoming a host city. Chris Zimmermann, the president and CEO of business operations for the St. Louis Blues, wants his city to be a host. A rumor emerged claiming Arizona was a front-runner, but a league source dismissed it as “completely false.”

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the hope is for Phase 2 to begin later this month, but he adds it’s impossible to determine a true deadline.

“Now, some of the protocol in Phase 2 is pretty obvious. It’s small gathering stuff. It’s social distancing. It’s scheduled shifts when players are allowed to return to their home clubs. It’s small dedicated team staff working on training and whatnot. It’s strict sanitization protocol. All of this could be decided and determined and agreed upon at some point this week. It could drift into next week,” said Dreger.

LeBrun reported the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2020 selection and announcement will proceed on June 23 and 24. It remains to be seen if the induction ceremony will be carried out as scheduled on Nov.16.

Bob McKenzie reported on the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks declaring bankruptcy. He indicates it was related to owner  Bill Gallacher’s issues in the gas and oil industry and having to file Chapter 11 for his parent company. For now, this is a one-off, but McKenzie warns there might not be any junior hockey if there are no fans in the stands in 2021.

IN OTHER NEWS…

ARIZONA SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes president and CEO Ahron Cohen is no longer with the organization.

MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/STLTODAY.COM/LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, and Los Angeles Kings joined a growing number of NHL clubs offering refunds or crediting options to season-ticket holders for games canceled by COVID-19. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins announced four-month furloughs for several employees because of the ongoing pandemic. 

THE ATHLETIC: Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon denied a report out of Finland claiming Panthers center Henrik Borgstrom was considering signing with the KHL’s Helsinki Jokerit. “We talked to his agent, and that is not true,” said Tallon. “Maybe it is a bargaining tool. But according to his agent, his preference is to sign with us.”










What Are Dale Tallon’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Florida Panthers

What Are Dale Tallon’s NHL Off-Season Plans For The Florida Panthers

 










Tough Sledding For Florida Fans As Panthers Stumble Through Another NHL Season

Tough Sledding For Florida Fans As Panthers Stumble Through Another NHL Season

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 10, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 10, 2017

Game recaps plus latest on Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, Brent Burns & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored and set up two others to power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The league-leading LIghtning have won eight of their last 10 games, including five straight road contests.

Leon Draisaitl scored in overtime as the Edmonton Oilers edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2, extending the latter’s losing streak to four games. Devils forward Brian Boyle scored his first goal of the season after returning to action following treatment for leukemia.

Jason Zucker tallied a hat trick and Devan Dubnyk turned in a 41-save shutout effort to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 3-0 blanking of the Montreal Canadiens, who were playing without top forward Jonathan Drouin (upper-body injury) and defenseman Shea Weber (lower body).

The Philadelphia Flyers’ top line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier scored all of their club’s goals in their 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jaromir Jagr got his first goal of the season and Johnny Gaudreau had a three-point performance (including two goal) to give the Calgary Flames a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Anthony Mantha netted three points for the Wings.

Jakob Silfverberg scored twice and Rickard Rakell had three assists in the Anaheim Ducks’ 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Ducks goalie Ryan Miller made 13 saves against his former club before leaving in the third period with a lower-body injury. The Canucks were playing without defenseman Chris Tanev, who could be sidelined two-three weeks with an upper-body injury.

Shootout goals by Brayden Schenn and Alexander Steen gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby claims he’s unconcerned over his nine-game goalless streak. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby also has only three assists during that streak. He’s gone through similar droughts before and rebounded well, which is probably why his current production woes haven’t garnered as much attention this time around. 

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns’ offense is also sputtering. Coming off a career-best 76-point effort last season, he currently has just seven assists in 14 games. That’s adversely affected the Sharks in the wins column. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burns is a key piece of the Sharks’ offensive punch. When he’s not producing they feel it. 

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom’s strong defensive play has come at the expense of his offensive game, as he’s mired in a career-long seven-game scoreless drought. Linemate T.J. Oshie hasn’t scored in eight games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The offseason changes to the Capitals roster has placed Backstrom into more of a defensive role this season. 

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Veteran Stars forward Jason Spezza has yet to score a goal this season. His 15-game goalless drought is the second-longest of his career. He has only five assists during that stretch. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Now in his 15th NHL season, age and the wear and tear over his long career could be catching up with Spezza. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is now listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury. 

BSN DENVER: A peanut allergy has landed Colorado Avalanche forward Alexander Kerfoot in a Swedish hospital. Fortunately, he’s not expected to miss any games. The Avalanche are playing two games in Sweden against the Ottawa Senators. 

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vadim Shipachyov’s short NHL tenure is over as he and the Vegas Golden Knights officially part ways. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Kukla’s Korner observes, he’s the first player to retire as a Golden Knight.