NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 20, 2022

All three of Wednesday’s games end in 4-3 scores plus the latest on Gabriel Landeskog, Aaron Ekblad, Jake Muzzin and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Neal Pionk lifted the Winnipeg Jets over the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. Pionk finished the night with two goals while Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for the win. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for the Avalanche while Valeri Nichushkin had a two-point game.

Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs were without a key player in this contest. The Avalanche announced before this game that Gabriel Landeskog underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and will be sidelined for 12 weeks. The Avs captain had surgery last March on his knee and returned for the playoffs but it continued to bother him throughout the offseason and sidelined him through training camp and the start of this season.

Meanwhile, Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers was sidelined by an undisclosed injury and remains questionable for Thursday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights. The club also announced that head coach Rick Bowness will return on Saturday from his bout with COVID-19.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to defeat the Seattle Kraken 4-3. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko collected three assists while goalie Jordan Binnington got the win with a 32-save performance. Alex Wennberg and Oliver Bjorkstand each had two assists for the Kraken, who are 1-2-2 in their first five games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich missed this game with a lower-body injury.

The Florida Panthers got two goals from Carter Verhaeghe as they held off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 to hand the latter their first loss of the season. Aleksander Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett each collected two assists while Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk were among the Flyers’ goal scorers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers played this game without top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was placed on long-term injury reserve with a lower-body injury. There is no timetable for his return, which is bad news for the Panthers’ already thin blueline depth. Speaking of the Flyers, they claimed center Lukas Sedlak off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed defenseman Jake Muzzin (neck) on injured reserve. Meanwhile, head coach Sheldon Keefe walked back his critical comments aimed at his elite players following their 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs lost two games of their first four games to teams they should easily defeat (Arizona, Montreal) and barely won the other two games. That has a number of their followers already on edge. Keefe’s clarification drew criticism from social media with some suggesting that it’s indicative of the Leafs’ fragility this early in the season.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana has entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program and will be out of the lineup for an indefinite period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Vrana gets the help he needs to resume his playing career and get his life back on track away from the arena.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Connor Brown (lower body) has been placed on injured reserve.

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Goaltender Jake Allen has returned to the Canadiens lineup. He missed Monday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins as his wife was giving birth to the couple’s third daughter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Allen family on their new arrival.

TWINCITIES.COM: Jordan Greenway makes his season debut with the Minnesota Wild. The 25-year-old winger underwent off-season shoulder surgery. He also underwent procedures to have a cyst removed from his ankle and to have his wisdom teeth removed.

SPORTSNET’s Elliotte Friedman reported New York Rangers forward Dryden Hunt and Vancouver Canucks winger Phillip Di Giuseppe were placed on waivers yesterday.

THE ATHLETIC: Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser signed a PTO contract with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

CALGARY SUN: The city of Calgary and the Flames organization have restarted formal talks on the construction of a new arena. Negotiations fell apart last year over cost overages weeks before construction was to start on a $650 million project.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wake me when you’ve got a deal. And yes, I believe they will hammer out a deal.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 30, 2022

The latest on Jack Eichel, Eric Staal and Jakub Vrana, the Golden Knights acquire Adin Hill from the Sharks, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: Jack Eichel is healthy and looking forward to a better performance in his first full season with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

The 25-year-old center was traded to the Golden Knights last November after disagreeing with the Buffalo Sabres over which surgery to undergo for a herniated disk in his neck. He underwent artificial disk replacement following the trade, made his debut with the Golden Knights on Feb. 16 and played the final six weeks of the season with a non-displaced thumb fracture.

Eichel said he’s looking forward to returning to form. “I just want to get back to being that dynamic force that I was before I got hurt and I know I’ll be there,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel finished with 14 goals and 25 points in 34 games despite coming off a lengthy layoff from his surgery and being hampered by his thumb injury. When healthy, he’s proven he’s an 80-point player and could reach or exceed that plateau with the Golden Knights. If he does, it gives them a good shot at reaching the 2023 playoffs.

Eric Staal is hoping to play his way back into the NHL with a professional tryout offer with the Florida Panthers. The 37-year-old forward last played in 2020-21 with the Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens.

Staal played five games last season on a PTO with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and was captain of Team Canada at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. He’ll be joining younger brother Marc Staal at Panthers training camp. Marc signed a one-year contract with the club in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal might not make the cut on a deep Panthers club. However, a strong training camp and preseason effort could help him land a one-year contract with another club.

This is probably Staal’s last chance to earn a roster spot with an NHL club. He’s had a long and productive career and is among the greatest players in Carolina Hurricanes history. However, his best years are now well behind him.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of players looking forward to a bounce-back performance following an injury-shortened season, Jakub Vrana believes the Detroit Red Wings could be a playoff club in 2022-23.

Vrana, 26, missed most of last season recovering from shoulder surgery. He’s now fully healthy and excited over the Red Wings’ off-season additions. “In my opinion, we have strengthened enough, so there is a better chance for the playoffs,” said Vrana. “We will definitely go all out.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana was limited to 13 goals and 19 points in 26 games last season. His lengthy absence contributed to the Red Wings missing the 2022 postseason. A healthy season from him combined with a solid performance from their off-season additions and their promising youngsters should make the Wings a playoff contender.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks traded goaltender Adin Hill to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Vegas’ fourth-round pick in 2024.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon’s recent remark about going with Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit as his goalie tandem to start the season. Brossoit is coming off hip surgery so perhaps he’s not fully recovered. If he has, McCrimmon probably wants to ensure he’s got sufficient experienced depth among his goalies.

As for the Sharks, this move enables them to go with a tandem of the promising Kaapo Kahkonen backed up by veteran James Reimer for the coming season. It also sheds Hill’s $2.175 million cap hit, giving the Sharks some extra wiggle room under the cap.

Speaking of the Sharks, they re-signed winger Jonah Gadjovich to a one-year, two-way contract. He’ll earn $750K at the NHL level.

THE ATHLETIC: The Chicago Blackhawks last week announced the hiring of Patrick Sharp and Troy Murray as the team’s TV color analysts. They’ll replace Ed Olczyk, who left the job after 16 years to join the Seattle Kraken in a similar role.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 1, 2021

Canucks closing in on new contracts for Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, the Leafs sign Sheldon Keefe to a contract extension, plus the latest on Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Vrana, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Darren Dreger reported yesterday evening the Vancouver Canucks appear to be closing in on new contracts for restricted free agents Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson. It’s believed Hughes could receive a six-year contract while Pettersson would get a three-year deal.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Satiar Shah reports Hughes’ could earn an annual average value of $7.75 million. The Athletic’s Rick Dhaliwal hears Pettersson could get a $7.7 million AAV. That would be a combined $15.45 million annually against the Canucks cap.

Cap Friendly indicates the Canuck have $13.7 million in projected cap space but they would be allowed to exceed the $81.5 million cap by $3.5 million by placing sidelined winger Micheal Ferland on long-term injury reserve. They could also get $3 million in cap relief if defenseman Travis Hamonic opts out of playing this season by today’s deadline.

No surprise if Hughes and Pettersson get those annual average values on their new contracts. Hughes is their top defenseman while Pettersson is their first-line center. They’re going to be paid as such. They’re also young players who’ve yet to reach their full potential. If you think their new contracts are expensive, wait until you see how much they get once those contracts expire.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs yesterday confirmed they’ve signed head coach Sheldon Keefe to a two-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs management still has confidence in Keefe to guide this club to a Stanley Cup despite not having won a playoff round during his short tenure behind their bench. This extension should quell speculation that Keefe could lose his job if the Leafs fall short again. Of course, that could depend on whether there’s a front-office purge next spring if this club makes another early postseason exit.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Leafs, winger Wayne Simmonds spoke out yesterday against racism in the game after HK Kremenchuk’s Andrei Deniskin received a mild suspension by the Ukrainian Hockey League for the racial taunting of HC Donbass defenseman Jalen Smereck during a recent UHL game. Smereck, an African-American, has taken leave from Donbass, which has called for stiffer punishment for Deniskin.

Simmonds has also encountered racial taunts throughout his playing career. “I’ve faced a lot of these things myself, and I don’t even know if I’d want my kids playing hockey to be quite honest.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hockey, at every level, is supposed to be for everyone. There should be no place for racism in the sport regardless of where it’s played.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana is expected to miss the next four months following shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a blow to the Wings’ offense. Acquired at last season’s trade deadline, Vrana had an immediate positive effect. He was expected to play a major role for the rebuilding Wings this season as they attempt to take the next step toward playoff contention.

THE ATHLETIC: Zac Rinaldo’s anti-vaccination stance likely means his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets is over before it began. Sources say he will not play a game for the Jackets or their AHL affiliate this season. The club placed him on waivers yesterday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Bell Centre in Montreal is expected to return to full capacity when the 2021-22 season opens next month as the Quebec government lifts some of its COVID-19 restrictions.

ESPN.COM: The Arizona Coyotes are the only NHL club to relax its game-day dress code for players this season. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators have plans to allow their players to wear team-issued tracksuits to games this season.

Several clubs have done away with the tie requirement though suits must still be worn. The Seattle Kraken has adopted a business casual policy.

The NHLPA has been pushing behind the scenes for a league-wide change. The PA believes it will help players build their individual brands and grow the game.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2021

The Kraken win their first-ever preseason game plus the latest on Mark Stone, Jonathan Drouin, Semyon Varlamov, Jakub Vrana and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Seattle Kraken tasted victory in their first-ever preseason game on Sunday, overcoming a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 in front of 10, 208 raucous fans at Spokane Arena. Morgan Geekie snapped a 3-3 tie early in the third period and added an insurance goal midway through the frame to seal the win.

THE ATHLETIC: Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone and defenseman Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb were injured in a 4-2 preseason loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. Stone left the game after being struck by the puck on the right ear. He received stitches but didn’t return. There were no post-game updates on Theodore and McNabb.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said the decision to keep Stone out of the game was precautionary. He doesn’t think the injury to his captain is serious.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Jonathan Drouin received a warm welcome from Canadiens fans during their annual Red vs White scrimmage yesterday. It marked the first time Drouin played in front of Canadiens fans since 2019-20. He left the team late last season for personal reasons that were later revealed to be anxiety and insomnia issues.

Meanwhile, rookie winger Cole Caufield was scratched after feeling uncomfortable during the warmup. He’s listed as day-to-day but head coach Dominique Ducharme doesn’t feel it’s anything serious.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arthur Staple tweeted New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov still isn’t skating as he remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana will see a specialist today to determine the severity of the shoulder injury suffered on Saturday.

CBS SPORTS: Calgary Flames center Tyler Pitlick left Sunday’s 4-0 preseason loss to the Edmonton Oilers in the first period with a lower-body injury.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar realizes he’s on the hot seat this season. His club failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs in the last three years. Another disappointing finish could spell the end of his job.

Bednar spoke at length over the summer with Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper. Like Bednar, Cooper felt similar pressure after his own Presidents’ Trophy-winning team was swept in 2019 from the opening round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He went on to guide the Lightning to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 26, 2021

The Blues sign GM Doug Armstrong to a new contract and make a trade with the Senators, the Wild name Matt Dumba and Marcus Foligno alternate captains, and the latest on Sergei Bobrovsky, Anders Lee and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues signed general manager Doug Armstrong to a five-year contract extension.

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. In announcing the signing, Blues owner Tom Stillman pointed out the club has made nine postseason appearances during Armstrong’s tenure, including three division titles, a conference title and their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2019.

The Blues also made a trade yesterday, shipping forward Zach Sanford to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for center Logan Brown. They’ll also receive a fourth-round pick in 2022 from the Senators if the 26-year-old Brown doesn’t appear in 30 games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A St. Louis native, Brown was the Senators’ first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2016 NHL draft but he struggled to crack their rebuilding roster, appearing in just 30 games over the past four seasons. He’ll get a great opportunity to reset his NHL career with his hometown club.

Sanford, 26, developed into a good defensive winger with the Blues. He should be a solid fit on the Senators’ checking lines.

This was also a much-needed cost-cutting move for the Blues. As per Cap Friendly, by exchanging Sanford’s $2 million cap hit for Brown’s $750K, they’re just under the $81.5 million salary cap.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild named defenseman Matt Dumba and winger Marcus Foligno as their new alternate captains. They replace Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who were bought out of their contracts during the offseason.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky hopes to put last season’s disappointing playoff performance behind him. He’ll be sharing the goaltending duties this season with promising Spencer Knight.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky’s going to face a real challenge hanging onto the starter’s job. Knight is a highly-touted young netminder seen as Bobrovsky’s eventual replacement.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: The Islanders are likely to keep left winger Anders Lee out of their first few postseason games. Their captain is returning from surgery to repair a torn ACL that ended his 2020-21 season last March.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They want to ensure Lee is fully up to speed before putting him into game action. No sense rushing him in meaningless preseason games and risk a setback.

THE ATHLETIC: Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes recently expressed his gratitude to the hockey community at large for the support he and his family received following the sudden death of his older brother (and former NHL player) Jimmy Hayes.

Among the notables to reach out with support were Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke and team captain Sidney Crosby, former New York Rangers teammates Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk, as well as New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The past several weeks have been difficult for Hayes. He also recently underwent abdominal surgery that will sideline him for the entirety of training camp.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Mike Hoffman could miss up to four weeks with a lower-body injury suffered during offseason training.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Jakub Vrana’s first day in training camp didn’t last long. After being delayed joining his teammates by visa issues, he left practice yesterday with a shoulder injury.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Brady Keeper was stretchered from the ice during practice on Saturday with an apparent leg injury. No update was provided on his condition.

TSN: Goaltender Curtis McElhinney took to Instagram yesterday to announce his retirement. During his 13 NHL seasons, the well-traveled McElhinney appeared in 249 career games with the Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Arizona Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning.

McElhinney finished his career on a high note, winning two straight Stanley Cups with the Lightning in 2020 and 2021. He finishes with a record of 94 wins, 95 losses and 20 overtime losses, with a 2.83 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage and 12 shutouts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to McElhinney and his family in their future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 11, 2021

The league mourns the passing of Tony Esposito, the latest on Robin Lehner and Dylan Larkin, the Wings avoid arbitration with Jakub Vrana, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The hockey world is mourning the loss of Tony Esposito, who passed away yesterday from pancreatic cancer at age 78. The younger brother of Phil Esposito, he carved his own path to the Hockey Hall of Fame during his 16 NHL seasons, with all but one of those with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was a trailblazer, using the butterfly style of goaltending pioneered by Glenn Hall.

Hall of Fame goaltender Tony Esposito (NHL.com).

Tony O” backstopped the Blackhawks to the 1971 and 1973 Stanley Cup Finals. He holds the league’s single-season shutout record with 15 set in 1969-70. He also holds the Blackhawks career record for wins (418), shutouts (74) and games played by a goalie (873), as well as the single-season records for save percentage (.934) and saves (2,119).

Esposito won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1969-70. He also took home the Vezina Trophy in 1969-70, 1971-72 and 1973-74. He was part of the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup roster in 1968-69 and played in four games for Team Canada in the eight-game 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Esposito was one of my favorite players when I was growing up in the 1970s. In my opinion, he was the greatest goaltender in Blackhawks history. My sincere condolences to his family, friends, former teammates and the Blackhawks organization.

Along with Ken Dryden, Bernie Parent and Rogatien Vachon, Esposito was part of a dominant foursome of NHL goaltenders in the early-1970s. His unique acrobatic style, right-handed trapper and memorable mask made him one of the league’s most recognized netminders.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Robin Lehner said he caught some heat on social media last summer when player agent Allan Walsh tweeted his infamous photoshop of client Marc-Andre Fleury being stabbed in the back by a sword engraved with the name of Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.

Walsh was upset over Fleury’s lack of playing time during the 2020 playoffs. Fleury had the agent delete the image but Lehner said he caught some flak from Fleury’s supporters because of Walsh’s actions.

Lehner and Fleury laughed off the incident and combined last season to win the William M. Jennings Trophy. He also said he’s come to admire Walsh for his willingness to fight for players’ rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When Fleury was traded to Chicago last month Walsh praised Lehner as an “amazing teammate and friend” to his client. He also praised him as “a role model and inspiration deserving of respect” for his work as a mental health advocate.

THE ATHLETIC: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin is back on the ice skating and shooting as he aims to be ready for training camp next month. The 25-year-old center suffered a season-ending injury when Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn cross-checked him in the back of the neck during a game in late April. He’s yet to be cleared for contact drills but said he feels “refreshed and ready to go.” Nevertheless, he intends to be cautious in his preparations.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Speaking of the Red Wings, they avoided salary arbitration with Jakub Vrana, signing the 25-year-old forward to a three-year contract worth $5.25 million annually. He had originally sought $5.75 million while the Wings had offered $3.65 million.

ESPN.COM: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged a final decision on NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be made by the end of August. Negotiations between the league, NHL Players Association, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee are ongoing.

There are concerns over rising COVID-19 numbers and COVID restrictions placed on Olympic athletes that would dwarf those that NHL players experienced in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoff bubbles.

AZ COYOTES INSIDER: Phil Housley, Cory Stillman and Corey Schwab will all return as Arizona Coyotes assistant coaches this season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Andrew Allen was named goaltending coach for the Kraken. They also hired former NHL coach Dan Bylsma as an assistant coach with its temporary AHL affiliate in Charlotte.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings signed 2021 first-round pick Brandt Clarke to an entry-level contract.

CHICAGO DAILY HERALD: The Blackhawks signed forward Mike Hardman to a two-year, $1.6 million contract.

SPORTSNET: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed defenseman Andrew Peeke to a two-year, $1.575 million contract.