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

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

The Calder Trophy and Adams Award finalists revealed, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Shea Weber, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar are the finalists for the 2019-20 Calder Memorial Trophy honoring this season’s rookie-of-the-year.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik was a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks this season, become the leading goal-scorer (30) among this season’s rookie class, but he will be overshadowed by Hughes and Makar. During the first half of this season, Makar seemed a lock for the Calder, but Hughes steadily came on throughout the season. The Canucks blueliner leads this season’s rookies in assists (45), points (53), and power-play points (25) while sitting second in ice time, averaging 21:53 per game.

Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, and Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault are this season’s finalists for the Jack Adams Award honoring the league’s top head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s Bruins were the NHL’s top team during the regular season. Tortorella’s efforts helped his injury-ravaged Blue Jackets remain a playoff contender. Vigneault guided the Flyers to their first best performance (second in the Metropolitan Division) since 2010-11. Tortorella is a two-time winner (2003-04, 2016-17) of the Adams Award while Vigneault took home the award in 2006-07.

NHL TRAINING CAMP NOTES

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine admits he’s not quite up to speed following his lengthy layoff. “Still kind of far away,” he told reporters yesterday. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine won’t be the only NHL player trying to shake off the rust and return to game shape following a four-month layoff. He said he’s trying to make the most of it and hopes to be game-ready when the puck drops.

TRIBLIVE.COM: There are mixed reports regarding Matt Murray’s performance in the opening three days of Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp. Mark Madden cites sources claiming  Tristan Jarry is outplaying Murray, but Seth Rorabaugh (who’s covering the Penguins’ training camp) said he’d seen no difference in play between the two. Rorabaugh observed Murray is more often between the pipes when facing some of the Penguins’ top players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s restricted free agent status at season’s end ensures he’ll be closely watched in practice and the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s been the subject of frequent trade speculation this season. His performance will determine his future with the Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak joined his teammates for his first practice since completing his mandatory quarantine period after returning from the Czech Republic.

CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his training camp debut before the weekend. He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed issue.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returned to full practice Wednesday. He’d spent Tuesday doing drills on his own.  

CANES COUNTRY: Sami Vatanen is healthy and looking forward to making an impact with the Carolina Hurricanes in the upcoming playoff tournament. The Hurricanes acquired the 29-year-old defenseman near the trade deadline, but an injury prevented him from suiting up with his new team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Dougie Hamilton recovered from a broken leg, he and Vatanen will provide a much-needed boost to the Hurricanes’ defense corps, especially if Brett Pesce (shoulder surgery) remains unable to participate.

NBC SPORTS: The pause in the schedule proved to be a silver lining for a banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets lineup, allowing sidelined players such as Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Cam Atkinson an opportunity to recover.

CALGARY SUN: Flames bench boss Geoff Ward denies he’s split up some of his roster over fitness-related issues. Johnny Gaudreau’s removal from the Flames’ top line raised eyebrows this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s clampdown on the players’ medical status only stokes speculation over the motivation behind such moves.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs were told to stop using on-ice officials during their practices following complaints from rival clubs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks officially signed defenseman Ian Mitchell to a three-year, entry-level contract beginning next season. He would’ve had the first year of his ELC burned off if he’d joined his teammates for Phase 3 training camp.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Former Carolina Hurricanes TV announcer John Forslund will be freelancing for NBC Sports during the upcoming playoff tournament. His status with the Hurricanes remains uncertain since his contract expired last month.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 2, 2020

The Dallas Stars defeat the Nashville Predators in the 2020 Winter Classic, John Tortorella fined again, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Nashville Predators 4-2 in the 2020 Winter Classic before over 85,000 fans at the sold-out Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. Alexander Radulov tallied the game-winner over five minutes into the third period, teammate Mattias Janmark had a goal and an assist, and Stars goaltender Ben Bishop made 31 saves. Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist for the Predators.

Alexander Radulov tallied the game-winner as the Dallas Stars defeated the Nashville Predators in the 2020 NHL Winter Classic (Photo via NHL Images)

Stars winger Corey Perry was ejected early in the first period for elbowing Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis in the head. Ellis left the game and didn’t return. Perry faces a disciplinary hearing from the league’s department of player safety. He insists the incident was unintentional, and hopes Ellis will be ok.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 2020 Winter Classic was among the most entertaining games since the league began staging outdoor contests. The Perry incident aside, the game had a good pace and the crowd was definitely into it. No word on Ellis’ status, but we should learn more later today.

The Minnesota Wild will host the 2021 Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis. Their opponent has yet to be determined, but reports suggest the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, and Winnipeg Jets have been discussed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have a natural local rivalry with the Jets, but the other three clubs could draw bigger ratings in the U.S. TV market. The defending Stanley Cup champion Blues and the upward-trending Avalanche would be better opponents than the declining Blackhawks, who’ve been in more Winter Classics than any other NHL club.

SPORTSNET: Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella was fined $20,000 by the league for his post-game comments about the officiating following his club’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks. He’s also been assessed a conditional $25,000 fine which will be collected in the event of what the league calls “similar inappropriate behavior” through Dec. 29, 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon reports this is the ninth time Tortorella has been fined by the NHL. He’s also been suspended three times.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock was fined $2,000.00 for diving/embellishment during his club’s 6-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 21.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou will be sidelined two-three weeks with a lower-body injury.

WBNS: Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier is on injured reserve with a lumbar stress fracture.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid will have a hearing with the department of player safety regarding an illegal hit to the head on Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Ivan Provorov.