NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 14, 2021

Updates on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Keith Yandle in today’s NHL rumor mill.

NHL.COM: John Lane reports Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella confirmed Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade request. “Yeah, he wants out,” said Tortorella, commending the 22-year-old center for his honesty but wishing he’d be more transparent about his reasons.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Tortorella indicated Dubois had a good training camp but he intends to keep the center on a short leash this season. “He needs to continue to do the things to help this team and be the best teammate he can be, or I’m not sure where it goes,” he said. “It’s a situation, and we’ll go to it day by day.”

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline suggests big changes could be coming to the Blue Jackets after this season. In addition to Dubois’ trade request, Tortorella is in the final year of his contract, as is team captain Nick Foligno. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen also has to decide whether Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins is their starting goalie as both are slated for UFA status in 2022.

Portzline believes Kekalainen has shown no urgency to move Dubois but wonders how long this can fester before he’s forced to act. The center is under contract through 2021-22. Dubois could be with the Jackets throughout this season unless they fall out of playoff contention and receive a tempting trade offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently reported the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets were among the clubs with interest in Dubois. Kekalainen will set a significant asking price, perhaps seeking a scoring forward (preferably a center) in return. The Jackets GM isn’t known for hasty trades and will wait until the offseason if necessary for the right return.

The fates of Tortorella, Foligno and their goaltenders will be determined by the club’s performance this season. Missing the playoffs or another early postseason exit could bring about a shake-up.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin wonders what’s next for Keith Yandle now that the Florida Panthers are trying to ease the 34-year-old defenseman out of their lineup. His no-movement clause prevents them from placing him on their taxi squad unless he agrees to waive it. They could start the season by making him a healthy scratch, ending his 866-game Ironman streak.

Yandle’s declining performance could hurt his trade value. Larkin suggests the Panthers might have to absorb part of his $6.35 million annual average value (through 2022-23) to make him enticing in the trade market, provided he agrees to waive his NMC. Larkin reports a source said Yandle hasn’t been the initiator on any plans to waive his clause.

Larkin suggested the Boston Bruins as a potential fit. The New York Islanders could be another but they lack sufficient cap space to find room for Yandle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see any club having an interest in Yandle at this point in his career. He has too much tenure on his contract even if the Panthers agreed to pick up a healthy chunk of his annual cap hit. Never say never, of course, because we’ve seen instances in the past where seemingly untradeable players get moved. Still, the Panthers could be forced to wait until the offseason to make that happen.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2021

The latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois, Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Brian Hedger reports Pierre-Luc Dubois’ apparent trade request is dominating the start of Columbus Blue Jackets’ training camp. Despite signing a two-year contract last week, the 22-year-old center reportedly wants a change of scenery.

Trade speculation continues to swirl about Columbus Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen addressed the rumors yesterday, saying GMs talk about trades all the time, rumors start from there and it’s just part of the business. He also said the familiar line that if Wayne Gretzky could be traded, anybody could be traded.

Hedger felt Kekalainen, Dubois, and head coach John Tortorella’s remarks during yesterday’s press availability essentially confirmed the rumors without confirming them. Tortorella said things would be handled internally within the dressing room similar to how they addressed the final seasons with Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

What’s in my head’s in my head,” said Dubois. He stressed he’ll be a good teammate as well as the best player and person he can be.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline also reported on the comments made by Kekalainen, Dubois and Tortorella. He felt the Jackets GM doesn’t appear to have any urgency to trade his first-line center.

Portzline also noted the occasional clashes between Dubois and Tortorella, including a well-publicized one on the bench during a game in last summer’s qualifying-round series against Toronto. However, that’s no indication their relationship is untenable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: From a contract standpoint, Kekalainen doesn’t have to hurry to move Dubois. The young center becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in the summer of 2022. As long as he performs well and maintains a good relationship with his teammates, the Jackets GM can take his time and see if the youngster changes his mind regarding his trade request.

Nevertheless, this is an unwelcome distraction for a club trying to build toward Stanley Cup contender status. Things could go downhill quickly if Dubois struggles or his relationship sours with Kekalainen, Tortorella or his teammates.

Kekalainen might not be in a rush to move Dubois but that doesn’t mean he won’t entertain offers. A suitable pitch, such as a one-for-one swap for another center or a package of picks and prospects that could be used to pry away a quality center from another club in a separate deal, could tempt him to move Dubois.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre reports the Jets have told the media Patrik Laine is off-limits until later in camp for undisclosed reasons. The 22-year-old winger has become a hot topic for trade rumors after his agent suggested last fall it would be mutually beneficial to his client and the Jets if a trade could be arranged.

Accusing the Jets of slapping a gag order on Laine, McIntyre wonders if the club is worried about what the winger might say or if he doesn’t want to talk to the press. He feels it puts Laine’s teammates in the awkward position of having to address the questions about his future with the Jets.

McIntyre wonders if Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff might contact Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to discuss swapping Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. “Maybe throw in (Jack) Roslovic, to play for his hometown team, and call it a day.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McIntyre admits he’s merely playing armchair GM with that trade suggestion. However, he’s not wrong in his view that the Jets should put Laine front and center to speak for himself and address the speculation. Like Dubois in Columbus, the questions about Laine’s status in Winnipeg ensures he’ll remain a fixture in the rumor mill during this season.

Speaking of Roslovic, Anthony Scultore of The Daily Goal Horn said he spoke with agent Claude Lemieux regarding his client’s situation. Lemieux seemed confident the 23-year-old center will be traded but where remains to be seen.

Scultore said he was told at least half-a-dozen teams expressed interest in Roslovic, suggesting the Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild among the possible destinations.










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 Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 26, 2020

The Lightning and Canucks tie their respective series, updates on the Avalanche and Islanders, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored his first goal of the playoffs in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 4-3. With the win, the Lightning tied the series at a game apiece. Blake Coleman scored twice for the Bolts while the Bruins’ Brad Marchand also netted two goals, including the game-tying goal that forced the extra frame. The two clubs face off again tonight in Game 3.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE A better effort from the Lightning in this contest compared to Game 1. They rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, taking their first lead of the series until Marchand tied it late in the third, and getting that big goal from Palat to tie the series.

The Vancouver Canucks tied their series with the Vegas Golden Knights with a 5-2 victory in Game 2. Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli marked his return from injury with a goal and two assists, Elias Pettersson also had three points, Bo Horvat scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back performance by the Canucks following their meek effort in a 5-0 loss to Vegas in Game 1. The return of Toffoli and his two-way skills provides a welcome boost to their lineup.

THE DENVER POST: Down 2-0 in their series with the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche need production from their secondary scorers if they’re to rally back. Apart from Nazem Kadri’s secondary assist in Game 1, none of their forwards beyond the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog has a point in this series.

NEW YORK POST: Facing back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, the Islanders could sit starter Semyon Varlamov for one of them. Varlamov’s played in every game thus far for the Isles in this postseason.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The NHL fined Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella $25K for his quick exit from his post-game video press conference following his club’s opening- round elimination by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tortorella answered just two questions before abruptly leaving.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella’s GAF factor (Give A F**k) was probably at zero by the end of that game.

NHL.com: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly isn’t ruling out the possibility of the league returning to action next season in divisional bubble cities but it’s not something they’ve necessarily considered.

 “I don’t think our current format for bubbles would work for the regular season, particularly because our objective is to play a full season and I’m not sure how we do that in the format we’re currently utilizing. It’s already a significant amount of time just to complete our playoffs in that type of bubble format. I don’t think it’s going to look like what we’re currently doing, but could it be a variation of what we’re currently doing. I wouldn’t rule that out any more than I would rule out any number of other alternatives.”

Daly said they’d love to be in the position to open on Dec. 1 with full arenas but acknowledged that might not be possible under the current course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Options could include pushing back the start date of the season or opening to partial crowds in all or part of their 31 markets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s intention is to stage a full 2020-21 campaign. Daly indicated they will be flexible and will keep a close eye on other leagues that open this fall to determine what works and what doesn’t. With 24 of the league’s 31 teams located in the United States, the course of the pandemic in that country will determine when the puck drops next season and how and where they stage those games.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 24, 2020

Seattle’s expansion franchise chooses Kraken as its team name, a look at what life will be like inside the host cities for the playoff tournament, and updates on Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise yesterday announced its team name will be “Kraken”. The club also unveiled its logo, a stylized S to reflect the mythical monster squid, as well as their home and away jerseys.

Seattle Kraken home jersey (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m not a fan of the Kraken name, and I’m not just talking about the rum (I’m a scotch man, but I digress). I felt they should’ve picked one that better reflected the Seattle/Pacific Northwest area rather than a creature from Scandinavian lore. It’s already ensured their fans will be nicknamed “Krakheads” and their arena “The Krakhouse.”

Nevertheless, I think they did very well with the jersey rollout. The logo is well done, I like the color scheme, and the anchor on each shoulder incorporating Seattle’s Space Needle is a nice touch. That jersey could become a popular NHL merchandise item.

NHL REVEALS DETAILS OF LIFE IN PLAYOFF HUB CITIES

NHL.COM: The league yesterday released details of what life will be like for the teams in the two host cities under Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. That included videos of accommodation and amenities within each of the Secure Zones in Edmonton and Toronto, special theme nights for selected games, and in-game sounds and supplemented crowd noise for televised games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be plenty of facilities and recreational activities available for everyone involved in the tournament. Those will be crucial for morale as they adjust to life under a quarantine bubble. 

LATEST PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NOTES

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews rejoined his teammates yesterday after missing practice on Tuesday. He also denied a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman claiming he voted against the return-to-play plan and CBA extension.

“I don’t know where he got that from,” said Toews. He added, “I voted yes. If anything, I kind of wanted the guys in our room to educate themselves on what was going on to the best of their ability and ultimately make their own decision.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to hear Friedman’s response. He’s among the NHL media’s well-connected pundits. In his recent 31 Thoughts podcast, he said he’d heard from several people claiming Toews had voted against the plan.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby didn’t participate in yesterday’s scrimmage but skated on his own yesterday. He hasn’t participated in practice since leaving the ice on Saturday. While league protocols prevent the Penguins from revealing details, a source explained Crosby’s absence was a precautionary measure as he deals with a minor ailment. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton has been listed as unfit to play after missing practice yesterday. Hamilton had recovered from a broken leg suffered last January but left the ice on Wednesday in some discomfort. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said he hoped this wasn’t a long-term issue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton was mentioned as a possible Norris Trophy finalist before his injury. While the Hurricanes adjusted to playing without him, they’re a much better team with the puck-moving blueliner in the lineup. It would be a blow to their Stanley Cup hopes if he’s sidelined for another indefinite period. 

THE DENVER POST: Cale Makar could be close to returning to practice. The Colorado Avalanche defenseman hasn’t skated with his teammates since Saturday but took part yesterday in individual on-ice drills. Meanwhile, Avs captain Nathan MacKinnon skipped scrimmage yesterday. No explanation was given for his absence.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Carter Hart didn’t participate in the Philadelphia Flyers’ final training camp scrimmage yesterday. The young goaltender was absent from practice since Sunday but did take part in some individual on-ice training. As per league protocols, no explanation was given for his absence.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba missed yesterday’s scrimmage for undisclosed reasons. Coach Dean Evason has no expectations where Dumba will participate in today’s practice.

THE SCORE: Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella isn’t pleased with the effort of two or three of his key players during Phase 3 training camp. He didn’t mention names, but he did stop practice yesterday to yell at his players after 30 seconds of the opening drill.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella’s probably not the only coach involved in the playoff tournament to have a concern about the performance of some players in training camp following a long layoff. They just don’t express it as openly as the Blue Jackets’ colorful bench boss.

MONTREAL GAZETTE/WINNIPEG SUN: Canadiens defenseman Xavier Ouellet and Jets blueliner Anthony Bitetto revealed they had tested positive for COVID-19. Both have since recovered and rejoined their teammates.










2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists