NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2020

The Masterton Trophy nominees are revealed, updates on the league’s return-to-play plan, and the latest on John Tavares, Shea Weber, Jeff Carter, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) yesterday released the 2019-20 nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Miller, G
Arizona Coyotes: Conor Garland, F
Boston Bruins: Kevan Miller, D
Buffalo Sabres: Curtis Lazar, F
Calgary Flames: Mark Giordano, D
Carolina Hurricanes: James Reimer, G
Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford, G
Colorado Avalanche: Ryan Graves, D
Columbus Blue Jackets: Nathan Gerbe, F
Dallas Stars: Stephen Johns, D
Detroit Red Wings: Robby Fabbri, F
Edmonton Oilers: Connor McDavid, F
Florida Panthers: Noel Acciari, F 
Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick, G
Minnesota Wild: Alex Stalock, G
Montreal Canadiens: Shea Weber, D
Nashville Predators: Jarred Tinordi, D
New Jersey Devils: Travis Zajac, F
New York Islanders: Thomas Hickey, D
New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, G
Ottawa Senators: Bobby Ryan, F 
Philadelphia Flyers: Oskar Lindblom, F
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin, F
San Jose Sharks: Joe Thornton, F
St. Louis Blues: Jay Bouwmeester, D
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn, F
Toronto Maple Leafs: Zach Hyman, F
Vancouver Canucks: Jacob Markstrom, G
Vegas Golden Knights: Shea Theodore, D
Washington Capitals: Michal Kempny, D
Winnipeg Jets: Mark Letestu, F

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is among this year’s nominees for the Masterton Trophy (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the nominees. The winner of the Masterton Trophy will be announced at the 2020 NHL Awards following this season at a date to be announced.

LATEST ON THE RETURN-TO-PLAY PLAN

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL and NHL Players Association will continue discussions in the coming weeks regarding the protocols, details, testing, and more for staging Phase 3 and 4 of the league’s return-to-play plan. Phase 3 is the training camp portion and Phase 4 the 24-team playoff tournament. The PA executive board representing the 31 teams is expected to vote on one big package rather than separate votes for each phase.

Darren Dreger reports the players are awaiting the specifics for Phase 3, including details on the two hub cities, restrictions, family matters, and more. The league and the PA acknowledge nothing will be perfect and some sacrifices will have to be made to get the sport back on its feet.

Regarding the collective bargaining agreement, LeBrun said those involved are holding out hope for an extension before play resumes. A lot of work still has to be done. Escrow and the salary cap are important issues for the players. Dreger noted they’re also interested in returning to the Olympics as early as 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the league and the PA will get the details for the return-to-play plan sorted out by no later than early July. Whether either Phase takes place without a hitch is another issue. A second wave of COVID-19 could derail those plans.

Most fans will be thrilled if a CBA extension beyond 2022 can be hammered out before play resumes. Nevertheless, the priority is completing this season and crowning a Stanley Cup champion. The CBA takes a backseat to that right now.

REUTERS: Canada and the United States are expected to extend their border ban on non-essential travel to late July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the government of Canada provides exemptions for NHL players and staff, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver will be out of the running as one of the two host cities for the 24-team tournament. Other Canadian teams participating in the playoff tournament could emulate the Calgary Flames’ plans to stage training camps next month in the United States.

TORONTO SUN: John Tavares, Ilya Mikheyev, Jack Muzzin, and Jack Campbell were among the Maple Leafs taking part in small-group workouts yesterday at the Leafs’ training facility. Mitch Marner and Cody Ceci are expected to join them soon.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens captain Shea Weber intends to continue training at his off-season home in Kelowna, BC until a full training camp is on the horizon.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings center Jeff Carter underwent successful surgery last week to repair a core muscle injury. He’s expected to fully recover before the start of next season.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the New Jersey Devils put their search for a new head coach on pause for the time being. They reportedly spoke with 8-10 coaches and narrowed the list to four, including current interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Lawrence Pilut signed a two-year contract with KHL team Traktor Chelyabinsk. It appears to have an NHL opt-out clause but the details remain sketchy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pilut, 24, is a restricted free agent coming off his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. Perhaps he’s trying to garner a measure of leverage in negotiations with the Sabres.

THE SCORE: Former NHL player Brandon Bochenski was elected mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota yesterday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 4, 2020

​​A growing number of NHL stars are speaking out against racial justice, the latest updates on the league’s return-to-play format, and Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray talks about his club’s future in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MORE NHL STARS SPEAK OUT AGAINST RACIAL INJUSTICE

TSN: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban pledged $50,000 to George Floyd’s daughter Gianna’s GoFundMe page.

“Change the game means change the narrative. The narrative has been the same: no justice. There needs to be justice. Justice has to happen, change needs to come. But we need everyone. We need all people to look at our lives and see where we can help that change and do our part.”

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 13: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins poses for his official headshot for the 2019-2020 season on September 13, 2019 at WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Patrice Bergeron

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron pledged $25,000 to the Boston branch of the NAACP and $25,000 to Centre Multiethnique de Quebec.

 “Let’s take real actions, with an open heart and compassion, I am determined to be an ally, continue to grow myself, and raise my children to be anti-racist.”

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and teammate Jason Zucker, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber and teammate Brendan Gallagher, Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and winger Tom Wilson, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, and San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson joined a growing list of NHL stars issuing statements speaking out against racial injustice.

THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas believes his club can and should do more to combat systemic racism.

“I think what we’ve learned, especially in the last number of days, is that with the Maple Leafs and with our players and with our staff … we need to be doing more on the anti-racism side of things. Not only with our statements and our words and our tweets and what we put out there but with our actions, and we know that people will be watching us and holding us accountable in that regard.”

ESPN.COM: NHL analyst and former goaltender Kevin Weekes described his experiences as a black player in a predominantly white sport.

“The higher up I got in hockey, the more race started to become a factor,” Weekes said. “And I started realizing that, for me, I was walking over Niagara Falls on a tightrope with no safety net.”

Weekes called upon the NHL to implement harsher punishments for racially motivated incidents or slurs and to evaluate its relationship with local police departments.

For an example, an NHL club should be very selective, just as they are with their players, to do hyperscreening of the law enforcement officials they use to work their venues or protect their players and their families. We’ll be a lot more diligent in the people we select to work with us.”

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ken Campbell notes the growing number of NHL players speaking out against the murder of George Floyd and racism toward black people have galvanized the sport. He wonders if this will bring about necessary change within hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s heartening to see more NHL stars adding their voices against racial injustice, bigotry, and intolerance. However, they must back up their comments by actively working against racism within the sport and in society

Subban and Bergeron accompanied their words with deeds. Hopefully, other players will follow their example.

I’m not doubting the players’ sincerity, but if they don’t back up their comments with positive action, their words will ring hollow.

LATEST NHL RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun yesterday reported an NHL source said the league hasn’t yet whittled down its list of 10 potential hub cities down to two for its return-to-play tournament. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Chicago are believed in the running. The league could narrow down that list and finding suitable locations within the next two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent protests against racial injustice in many US cities could affect the league’s decision. The potential Canadian locations depend upon whether the Canadian government eases its current COVID-19 border restrictions or deems NHL employees as essential works.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports the NHL won’t begin Phase 2 of its return-to-play plan until all 31 teams can safely and legally reopen their training facilities. There are also complications involving foreign-born players being allowed to return to their Canadian NHL cities because of the country’s border restrictions. July 10 is the earliest date training camps could open, with the 24-team tournament beginning in late July or early August.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 2 allows the players to return to their respective NHL cities to engage in voluntary small-group training in their practice facilities. The league is believed to be aiming for mid-June to formally introduce that phase.

SPORTSNET: Ontario premier Doug Ford said the NHL told him it would use private labs to process COVID-19 tests of players and staff should the league resume plan this summer. Toronto is among the teams on the proposed list of hub cities for the return-to-play tournament.

DUCKS GM EXPECTS IMPROVEMENT NEXT SEASON

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Elliott Teaford reports Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray voiced his displeasure over his club’s poor performance this season. He expects improvement and more accountability from his players in 2020-21.

Murray singled out his core players. “No excuses,” he said. “All of our core guys have to pick up their games.” He also intends to meet next week with head coach Dallas Eakins and his staff in person if possible.

The Ducks GM spoke about his club’s free agents. We’ve talked to them all,” Murray said. “In some cases, we have the hammer. In some cases, they have the hammer. There’s not going to be a lot of money out there (because of the coronavirus pause in play). The (salary) cap could be flat for a couple of years. Revenues could be tight.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks were a mess last season. Teaford cited their anemic offense, underachieving special teams, and inconsistent play.

Part of it had to do with their rebuilding roster, as several promising youngsters failed to play up to expectations. Some of it was Eakin readjusting to the NHL game after coaching in the minors. Some of it was core players like Rickard Rakell failing to step up. Murray can demand accountability but it remains to be seen if the Ducks can elevate their play.










NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part 1)

NHL Buyout Barometer – Atlantic Division (Part 1)

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2020

A second Senators player tests positive for COVID-19, plus the latest on Shea Weber, Johnny Boychuk, Jacob Markstrom and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

OTTAWA SUN: A second Senators player tested positive for COVID-19 and is in self-isolation. He was among 52 people on board the club’s charter flight through California during their road trip from March 6 to 12. Eight of them have been tested thus far. Both Senators are the only NHL players to test positive thus far.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Half of the NBA and NHL coronavirus cases are linked to Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kings.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks report none of their players possess coronavirus symptoms or have been tested for the virus. In a statement, Sharks general manager Doug Wilson explained the club felt it was important to ensure those tests are available in the local community to those in the highest risk groups and those displaying symptoms.

Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber (Photo via NHL Images).

LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Canadiens captain Shea Weber recorded a message on behalf of the Quebec government aimed at informing English-speaking seniors in the province to practice good hygiene during this time of pandemic.

ESPN.COM: New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said defenseman Johnny Boychuk will return to action when the NHL schedule resumes. Boychuk was sidelined on March 2 after receiving 90 facial stitches when he was accidentally struck by a skate blade in a game against the Canadiens.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said goaltender Jacob Markstrom has fully recovered from his knee surgery.

TSN: NHL owners will have a conference call on Monday to discussion the league’s financial situation, including escrow.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites a source claiming the NHLPA held a conference call Friday in which the players essentially decide to defer a decision on how to handle their upcoming escrow losses until a verdict is rendered on the season. The league informed the PA that cancellation of the season could mean losses of up to $1 billion, equating to escrow losses of up to 35 percent per player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s why the league and the players are open to all options to salvage what’s left of the season. Nevertheless, they’ll still face significant losses. A lot of hockey fans will be adversely affected by this pandemic, leaving many without jobs or reduced income once this crisis has passed. They’re not going to spend it going to NHL games, where the fan cost index averages USD 424.62 for a family of four.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the 2020 Men’s World Championships are canceled. The tournament was to be staged in Switzerland in May.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Boston Bruins ownership announced a $1.5 million fund to aid part-time TD Garden employees if the Bruins remaining six homes games are postponed or cancelled.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins faced growing criticism as the last team to unveil a plan to assist their part-time employees. The news received mixed reviews from TD Garden employees. Some were happy to hear the news, some felt ownership had to be shamed into doing something, while others are wondering when they’ll start to see the funding.

CALGARY SUN: The Calgary Flames Foundation will donate $1.15 million as part of a COVID-19 community support program.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: With their season cancelled, ECHL players have been left in the financial lurch. The minor-league Professional Hockey Players Association is starting a relief fund to help those players cover their expenses.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2020

Avalanche lose Mikko Rantanen to injury, Canadiens’ Shea Weber close to returning to action, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning won a franchise-record 11th straight game with a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Nikita Kucherov tallied the winner in overtime as the Bolts (85 points) sit one back of the Boston Bruins for first overall in the league standings. It was a costly defeat for the Avs, as winger Mikko Rantanen suffered an upper-body injury (shoulder) that could sideline him for weeks. Earlier in the day, the Avs revealed goaltender Philipp Grubauer remains sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen could miss weeks with a shoulder injury (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s growing sparking speculation over what moves the Avs will make to bolster their injury-depleted roster. I’ll have more details this morning in the Rumors section.

Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane tallied his first career NHL hat trick to down the Anaheim Ducks 6-4. With the win, the Flames (68 points) hold the first wild-card berth in the Pacific Division. Jakob Silfverberg had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

The Arizona Coyotes (68 points) hold the second Western Conference wild-card spot after edging the New York Islanders 2-1. Conor Garland tallied his 20th goal of the season for the Coyotes. Andy Greene collected an assist in his first game with the Isles since being acquired from the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. The Islanders have dropped three straight games.

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 25 shots in a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. The Golden Knights (70 points) move into a tie with the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division, but the Oilers hold two games in hand. The Capitals (79 points) cling to a one-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Washington captain Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless for the fifth straight game and remains stuck at 698 career goals.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves and Aaron Ekblad collected two assists to give the Florida Panthers a 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Panthers (68 points) move within two points of the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division. Following the game, Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon got emotional when asked if he thought that was his last home game with the Sharks. Dillon is a free agent this summer and considered a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fans and pundits love to bandy about the names of possible trade candidates. We shouldn’t forget that these are human beings. While the players acknowledge getting traded is part of the business of hockey, it can still be difficult facing the prospect of leaving a team.

HEADLINES

Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl, Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, and former LA Kings winger Tyler Toffoli (now with the Vancouver Canucks) are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 16.

THE SCORE: Canucks winger Brock Boeser will be sidelined three weeks with a rib injury, while winger Micheal Ferland (concussion) is done for the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This news explains why the Canucks acquired Toffoli from the Kings last night.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens captain Shea Weber has returned to practice with his teammates and could play tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. Weber had suffered an ankle injury that supposedly had him sidelined for six weeks amid speculation it was career-threatening.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres have suspended defenseman Zach Bogosian for failing to report to their AHL affiliate after he recently cleared waivers. The suspension removes Bogosian’s $5.14 million salary-cap hit from the Sabres’ books, providing them flexibility as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches. The club could negotiate a mutual contract termination with Bogosian.

 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2020

The Canucks retire the numbers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, David Pastrnak regains the lead in the NHL goal-scoring race, an update on Jay Bouwmeester, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks retired the numbers of future Hall-of-Famers Daniel and Henrik Sedin in a pre-game ceremony before going on to blank the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0. Jacob Markstrom turned in a 49-save shutout while Brandon Sutter had a goal and two assists. With the win, the Canucks (69 points) widened their lead over the Edmonton Oilers atop the Pacific Division by three points. The Blackhawks (58 points) remain six points away from the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Vancouver Canucks retired the numbers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin on Wednesday (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The cermony was a fitting tribute to the two greatest players in Canucks history.

David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick as the Boston Bruins rolled to a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. With 41 goals, Pastrnak regained the lead in the league goal-scoring race. The Bruins (82 points) opened a three-point lead atop the overall standings over the surging Tampa Bay Lightning, while the fading Canadiens remain seven points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division. Earlier in the day, the Habs also learned defenseman Shea Weber will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lengthy absence of their captain and top defenseman could be the final nail in the coffin for the Canadiens’ playoff hopes.

The Los Angeles Kings snapped a five-game losing skid by upsetting the Calgary Flames 5-3. Cal Petersen kicked out 35 shots while Anze Kopitar collected two assists. The Flames (64 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is doing well after suffering a cardiac incident during Tuesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. He’s undergoing a battery of tests, but Armstrong said things are looking “very positive.” Medical staff used a defibrillator to revive Bouwmeester after he collapsed on the bench during the first period. The game was subsequently postponed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bouwmeester for a speedy recovery.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: The Jets agreed to a multi-year contract extension with head coach Paul Maurice. Contract terms weren’t disclosed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maurice’s future with the Jets was in doubt after the club’s early exit from the 2019 playoffs and their slow start to this season. However, his efforts to keep the club competitive with a depleted defense corps convinced ownership he remains the right man for the job.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are unsure of the timeline for goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s return. He was scheduled to return to action from a lower-body injury on Monday but reaggravated it during the morning skate.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers placed winger James Neal on injured reserve and recalled Tyler Benson from their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders forward Casey Cizikas will miss three-to-four weeks with a leg laceration.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for slashing Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves on Tuesday.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed forward Pierre Engvall to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.25 million.

SPORTING NEWS: NBC Sports confirmed Jeremy Roenick will not return as their hockey analyst. Roenick was suspended in December for making inappropriate remarks about his co-workers.