NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2022
Jacob Markstrom believes the Flames will be better this season, Phil Kessel talks about his time with the Coyotes and looks forward to joining the Golden Knights, the latest on Trevor Zegras and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE SCORE: In an interview with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom weighed in on his club’s busy offseason. “In my mind and in my head, I really believe that we’re gonna be better this year,” said Markstrom.
The Flames finished first in the Pacific Division last season but lost leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets via free agency and traded 100-point winger Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers after he decided he didn’t want to sign a long-term extension.
Markstrom praised Flames general manager Brad Treliving for his decisive moves to address those departures. He acquired playmaking winger Jonathan Huberdeau and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar in the Tkachuk trade and last week signed free-agent center Nazem Kadri.
“He really went out there and took what he wanted,” said Markstrom. “I think we’ve got a great team on paper, and now we’ve got to put it together on the ice.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ success this season will depend on how well Huberdeau, Kadri and Weegar fit within their roster. It could take some time for the new additions to adjust to their new teammates and head coach Darryl Sutter’s system. If they adapt quickly, the Flames should remain among the top clubs in the Western Conference.
ARIZONA SPORTS: After signing a one-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights, Phil Kessel reflected on his three seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. He praised his former teammates and those running the Coyotes but felt the club’s direction made it difficult for him after coming from a playoff club like the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“They said we were going to win and try to win and compete and obviously that’s not what happened and it’s going to be nice to play on a team that wants to win,” said Kessel. He also felt a player’s value around the league can go down playing for a club like the Coyotes. “Obviously, I think, over the last couple of years you get lost here and people don’t view you anymore like you used to be viewed.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon believes Kessel will be a good fit with his club, suggesting the 34-year-old winger felt a little like he’d been forgotten about in Arizona playing for a rebuilding club.
It’s easy for most fans and pundits to overlook how well individual players perform with the Coyotes. Kessel tallied a career-low eight goals but also managed 44 assists to finish with a respectable 52 points in 82 games last season on one of the league’s lowest-scoring clubs. His production should improve skating with the Golden Knights.
DAILY FACEOFF: Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras and Team Canada forward Sarah Nurse were named the cover athletes for EA Sports’ NHL 23 videogame.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is newsworthy for me only because of some ridiculous negative reaction on social media to Zegras and Nurse being on the cover. In Nurse’s case, it was old-fashioned misogyny about (gasp!) a women’s hockey player being part of an NHL video game (the horror!). Meanwhile, the complaints about Zegras were in part based on his “Michigan” (lacrosse) style goals, which apparently offends the fragile sensibilities of so-called “purists” of the game.
Speaking of Zegras, he’s changed his number this season from 46 to 11 while teammate Jamie Drysdale is switching from No. 34 to No. 6. I hope those of you with a delicate disposition had your smelling salts handy at this news.
ZSC LIONS: announced they’ve signed Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier to a one-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Texier has taken a season-long leave of absence from the Jackets to be closer to his family in Grenoble, France for personal reasons. He has the permission of the Jackets and NHL to play with a European club this season.
DAILY FACEOFF: Former NHL coach Mike Babcock has resigned from his head coaching role with the University of Saskatchewan after one season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to reports, the plan was always for Babcock to do that job for a year or two. His son, Mike Jr., will remain in his role as an assistant coach.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers hired Ian McKeown as their new vice president of athlete performance and wellness.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Mike Vellucci agreed to a two-year contract extension earlier this week.