NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

The Sabres avoid arbitration with Victor Olofsson, the Stars name Rick Bowness as a full-time coach, former Panthers GM Dale Tallon cleared of wrongdoing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with Victor Olofsson by reaching an agreement on a two-year, $6.1 million contract.

Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Olofsson had an impressive first full NHL season, scoring 20 goals and 42 points in 54 games to become a finalist for the 2019-20 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. This is a reasonable raise for the 25-year-old winger, who becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in 2022.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars removed the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness’ job title as he signed a two-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise. Bowness took over behind the bench on Dec. 10 and guided the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The NHL has cleared former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon of wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he used racially-charged language during the club’s time in the Toronto playoff bubble.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon was reportedly being considered for an advisory role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This could clear the way for his new job but is being greeted with criticism by some observers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are renouncing the rights of 2020 fourth-round pick, Mitchell Miller, after reports emerged of his bullying and racially taunting an African-American classmate with developmental issues four years ago.

THE DENVER POST: Former Colorado Avalanche winger Colin Wilson discussed his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, in The Players’ Tribune on Thursday. The 31-year-old center also indicated hip injuries may have brought his NHL career to a close. He’s now sober, receiving therapy and back in New England preparing for the next step in his life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Nashville Predators and the Avalanche, tallying 113 goals and 286 points in 632 games. Best wishes to him in his future endeavors.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has an option to sell the club back to former owner Peter Karmanos. While the coronavirus is affecting the NHL’s economics, Dundon doesn’t believe it will affect his ownership of the club. “I don’t have any intention of not owning the team,” he said.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning officially announced the signings of Patrick Maroon and Luke Schenn. The pair signed new contracts with the Lightning on Oct. 9.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks have loaned center Kirby Dach to Team Canada’s roster for the 2021 World Junior Championships.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A wise decision by the Blackhawks. This will allow Dach to get in some meaningful playing time under a quarantine bubble in Edmonton as he and the Hawks await the start of the 2020-21 season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed restricted free agent defenseman Sami Niku to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $725K.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Colton White to a one-year, two-way contract.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens have been refused access to their practice facility in Brossard by public health officials. The facility is within a COVID-19 red zone.

SPORTSNET: Travis Roy, who was left paralyzed in his first college hockey game with Boston University in 1995, has died at age 45. He went on to become an advocate for spinal cord injury survivors both in and outside the sports world, raising over $9 million through the Travis Roy Foundation. He also worked in tandem with the Boston Bruins, with team president Cam Neely and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque among those extending condolences.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sympathies to Roy’s family, friends, and former teammates. Neely put it best when he called him “the ultimate symbol of determination and courage.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 28, 2020

Check out the latest notable contract signings plus an update on the Penguins in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed Devon Toews to a four-year, $16.4 million contract. The annual average cap hit is $4.1 million. The 26-year-old defenseman will earn $2.35 million in 2020-21, $3.55 million in 2021-22, $4.6 million in 2022-23 and $5.9 million in 2023-24.

Colorado Avalanche sign Devon Toews to a four-year contract (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche acquired Toews earlier this month from the New York Islanders. Avs general manager Joe Sakic praised him as a “smart, two-way, puck-moving defenseman who is a durable defender and is excellent in transition”.

Toews is getting a significant raise over the $700K per season of his previous contract. Like a number of contracts signed during this offseason, his deal is backloaded to pay him more in actual salary in the latter years as league revenue is expected to increase.

THE DETROIT NEWS: An arbiter has awarded Tyler Bertuzzi a salary of $3.5 million for 2020-21. The 25-year-old Red Wings forward sought $4.25 million while the club offered $3.15 million. He earned $1.4 million last season. He will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights at the end of next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bertuzzi was going to get a substantial raise given his performance over the last two seasons. It’s curious that he and the Wings needed arbitration to sort this out considering how narrow the gap was between them. It’ll be interesting to see if Bertuzzi goes that route again next year.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes avoided arbitration with Haydn Fleury, signing the 24-year-old defenseman to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $1.3 million.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders and winger Josh Ho-Sang avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700K at the NHL level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ho-Sang requested a trade last year but the Isles couldn’t find any takers. This could be his last chance to stick with the franchise.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed restricted free agent forward Jansen Harkins to a two-year contract worth $725K per season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed forward Filip Chlapik to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

THE PROVINCE: Former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oscar Fantenberg has signed with KHL club SKA St. Petersburg.

THE SCORE: cites The Athletic reporting the Pittsburgh Penguins are exploring the possibility of hiring former Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon in some capacity.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins could also be considering bringing back Jason Botterill, who was fired as Buffalo Sabres GM earlier this year.










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