NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 22, 2021
The NHL & NHLPA withdraw from the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Lightning beat the Golden Knights in the final game before the extended holiday break, the Flames ownership walks away from its arena deal, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Multiple reports indicate the NHL and NHL Players Association intend to withdraw from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing amid concerns over rising COVID-19 cases among NHL clubs which forced the postponement of a number of games. A formal announcement, however, has yet to be made.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the delay in the announcement is the PA had to do its own internal process involving a number of calls to players. The league and PA also have to talk to the International Olympic Committee before it becomes official.
The NHL and NHLPA officially announced this morning they will not send players to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The adverse effect upon the NHL schedule by the recent COVID outbreak is the reason behind the decision. LeBrun indicated the league scheduler is already at work to determine how to make up those postponed games and fill dates during that three-week period in February that was scheduled for the Olympic break.
Chris Johnston indicates there is no ability for individual players to take a leave of absence in February to participate in the Games. He also said this decision will not affect the 2022 All-Star Game scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Withdrawing from the Olympics is a disappointment for the players who would’ve been selected to represent their countries and for hockey fans looking forward to the tournament. Nevertheless, the league and the PA had no choice.
Those postponed games have to be made up in a timely fashion without derailing the schedule or pushing it further into the spring, which would’ve meant another postseason going deep into the summer. Neither side has any intention of shortening the schedule because that would adversely affect hockey-related revenue.
NHL.COM: Steven Stamkos scored the winning goal as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 in the only game remaining on the schedule before the NHL’s extended holiday break that takes effect today and runs to Dec. 26.
Stamkos’ goal was his 65th game-winner, surpassing Martin St. Louis for the most in Lightning history. Golden Knights winger Mark Stone scored twice but left the game in the second period after tweaking a previous injury.
The Lightning played without head coach Jon Cooper, who entered COVID protocol before the games. Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and winger Evgenii Dadonov also entered the protocol yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet has a full list of players and coaches currently in COVID protocol that is updated daily.
CALGARY SUN: The owners of the Flames released a statement yesterday indicating they’re walking away from its multimillion-dollar plan with the city of Calgary to replace the aging Saddledome. Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corps cited the growing price tag of the planned new arena, which would’ve been built under a cost-sharing agreement with the city.
The sticking point is reportedly less than $10 million (1.5 percent of the projected $634 million) for infrastructure and climate change mitigation that the city is asking the Flames ownership to pick up.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This seems like a squabble over a pittance when factoring in the total cost of the arena plan. The Flames will reportedly continue to use the Saddledome but they can’t stay there forever.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman got involved in smoothing things over when the plans for constructing Rogers Place in Edmonton threatened to derail several years ago. Perhaps he’ll have to do the same in Calgary.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TSN: Boston Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril will miss the remainder of this season with a torn ACL in his right knee. He underwent surgery last week.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek could be sidelined for a while. He was spotted wearing a sling on his arm following an injury suffered during their 7-4 loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday.
SPORTSNET: The province of Alberta has announced restrictions on the capacity for sporting events that limits attendance at Flames and Oilers home games to 50 percent. Those restrictions also apply to the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton and Red Deer.
DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the World Juniors, Montreal Canadiens prospect Kaiden Guhle was named captain of Team Canada while Ottawa Senators prospect Jake Sanderson will captain Team USA.