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 Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2020

Wild fire head coach Bruce Boudreau, Oilers winger Zack Kassian receives a seven-game suspension, an update on Jay Bouwmeester, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier rallied the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The loss leaves the Jets (63 points) one point behind the Arizona Coyotes for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Jason Zucker scored his first two goals as a Pittsburgh Penguin in a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens (Photo via NHL Images).

Jason Zucker tallied his first two goals with the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected three assists for the Penguins (76 points), who sit three points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. The slumping Canadiens (61 points) remain seven points behind the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division.

The New York Rangers picked up their fourth straight win by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist while Alexandar Georgiev made 36 saves. The Jackets (71 points) hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth while the Rangers are seven points behind them.

Nino Niederreiter and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2. With 69 points, the Hurricanes sit two points behind the Blue Jackets.

HEADLINES

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday fired head coach Bruce Boudreau, replacing him on an interim basis with assistant coach Dean Evason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers questioned why this move was made when the Wild have won six of their last 10 games and sit just three points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. General manager Bill Guerin believes the club could benefit from a different voice behind the bench. Considering Guerin also traded winger Jason Zucker earlier this week to Pittsburgh, it appears he’s trying to motivate his club over the remainder of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how the players respond to his move.

TSN: The NHL department of player safety handed Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian a seven-game suspension for kicking Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in the chest on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kassian’s critics wonder why he didn’t receive a harsher punishment. Perhaps the fact Cernak wasn’t injured explains the league’s rationale behind the decision. Regardless, I believe Kassian’s skating on thin ice. He’s a repeat offender, having been previously suspended seven times by the league, including a two-game suspension last month for roughing Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. One more suspendable offense after this one could lead to a punishment harsher than the 20-game one he received in 2010.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator placed in his chest to monitor and control his heartbeat. The Blues will provide another update on his condition next week. Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident during a game on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks and had to be revived with a defibrillator.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon said there’s nothing in the CBA that prevents Bouwmeester from returning to action with a pacemaker. Nevertheless, it’s not a certainty that he will.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson requires surgery on his right knee and could be sidelined for eight weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That timeline means Johnsson won’t return until the playoffs. The Leafs can place him on long-term injury reserve and use the cap savings ($3.4 million) to add a replacement before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Because there’s no salary cap in the postseason, the Leafs wouldn’t have to shed salary when Johnsson returns to the lineup.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights have yet to provide an update on the status of winger Alex Tuch, who injured his left leg against the Blues on Thursday.

TSN: The Vancouver Canucks announced winger Micheal Ferland suffered concussion-like symptoms during an AHL rehab game last night. His last game with the Canucks was Dec. 10.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres placed defenseman Zach Bogosian on waivers. Bogosian has only appeared in 19 games since returning from hip surgery in November.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki suffered a high-ankle injury on Thursday.










NHL Sense or Nonsense – Let the deals begin

NHL Sense or Nonsense – Let the deals begin

 










Reviewing This Season’s Notable Deals Before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

Reviewing This Season’s Notable Deals Before the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline

 










Wild Trade Zucker to the Penguins

Wild Trade Zucker to the Penguins

The Minnesota Wild traded winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for winger Alex Galchenyuk, a conditional 2020 first-round pick, and defense prospect Calen Addison

The Minnesota Wild trade winger Jason Zucker to the Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a failed attempt to acquire Zucker last May, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford gets his man.The 28-year-old winger is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $5.5 million. With 14 goals and 29 points in 45 games this season, he’s on pace to exceed 20 goals and 40 points for the fourth consecutive year. Depending on how well he meshes with his new linemates (Sidney Crosby? Evgeni Malkin?), he could finish with much more.

Rutherford recently indicated he was in the market for a scoring winger after left winger Jake Guentzel suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. Zucker skates on the right side, but Rutherford suggested the versatility of his existing wingers meant he wasn’t fussy over which side his trade target played. Perhaps this means Patric Hornqvist or Bryan Rust move to the left side to make room for Zucker.

With over $68.9 million invested in 14 players for 2020-21, the addition of Zucker could leave the Penguins squeezed for salary-cap space. Goaltenders Matt Murray and Tristan Jarry are restricted free agents with arbitration rights this summer. Both will seek substantial raises, meaning one could be traded this summer. Defenseman Justin Schultz is an unrestricted free agent and could price himself out of Pittsburgh unless Rutherford frees up more cap space.

That’s a problem for the off-season. For now, the Penguins signaled they’re a serious contender for the Stanley Cup this season.

The Wild, meanwhile, have needed a roster rebuild for some time. Whether trading Zucker means this is the start of a full rebuild or merely another effort to retool on the fly remains to be seen.

It’s the first significant move by Bill Guerin since taking over as GM last summer. In Galchenyuk, he gets a winger with decent offensive skills who’s now on his fourth team since 2018. Slated to become a UFA this summer, the 26-year-old was sidelined by an injury to start this season and struggled upon his return to fit in with the talent-laden Penguins. Depending on his performance over the remainder of the schedule, he could be joining his fifth team this summer.

Reports indicate the first-round pick in 2020 could revert to 2021 if the Penguins miss the playoffs and decide to push it back a year. That’s unlikely, considering where the Penguins are in the standings. It’ll give the Wild two first-round picks in this year’s draft.

Addison could be the real prize for the Wild. Selected in the second round (53rd overall) by the Penguins in 2018, the 19-year-old is said to a top defensive prospect. He’s got 43 points in 39 games this season with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes and helped Canada win gold at the 2020 World Junior Championships.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – February 10, 2020

The latest on Jason Zucker and Blake Coleman, plus updates on the Senators and Penguins in today’s NHL rumor mill.

ARE ZUCKER’S DAYS WITH THE WILD NUMBERED?

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo reports Jason Zucker won’t discuss the trade rumors swirling about him. The winger said he hasn’t spoken about his status with Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin. “Heard nothing. Whatever happens, happens. I’m done dealing with it. I’m done worrying about it,” he said.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly still interested in Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker (Photo via NHL Images).

Zucker’s been the subject of trade chatter for the past two years. A deal that would’ve sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins last May fell through. It’s assumed he could be the odd-man-out for the Wild, either at the trade deadline or the 2020 NHL Draft in June.

He has a 10-team no-trade clause, which Russo said is believed to include almost every Canadian team and a handful of American clubs. Sources claim the Penguins aren’t on that list. Zucker is believed to be a player on their radar as the trade deadline approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker is signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $5.5 million. Guerin doesn’t have to move him at the trade deadline. If he doesn’t get an offer to his liking, he can wait until the off-season.

If Guerin is shopping the veteran winger, he’ll want a return that provides long-term help for his club. Speaking of the Penguins…

POSSIBLE PENGUINS TRADE TARGETS

THE ATHLETIC: Jason Zucker topped Josh Yohe’s recent list of the Penguins’ most likely trade targets. Others include New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider and Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski suggested Nashville’s Craig Smith, Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson, and Rangers winger Jesper Fast as backup options if the Penguins fail to land one of the bigger names in the trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Penguins GM Jim Rutherford’s trade history, it’s anticipated he’ll swing a deal before the Feb. 24 deadline. One of the aforementioned players could be wearing a Penguins jersey by then. If Rutherford wants Johnsson, the Leafs’ asking price could be a defenseman. And no, they won’t want Jack Johnson.

UPDATES ON THE SENATORS

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reported Senators GM Pierre Dorion is working the phones but hasn’t yet found any potential trade partners. One reason is several clubs remain undecided about which route they’ll take by the trade deadline. The Senators have plenty to offer if they go to market, including pending unrestricted free agents such as Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Dylan DeMelo, Mark Borowiecki, and Ron Hainsey. Craig Anderson and Tyler Ennis could also be available, but Garrioch anticipates their market will be limited.

Given Anderson’s inconsistency and $4.75-million salary-cap hit, Garrioch doubts the veteran goalie will be marketable. The Florida Panthers need a backup, but they lack the cap space for Anderson’s cap hit, especially given his .899 save percentage this season. While Pageau and DeMelo could be moved if still unsigned by the trade deadline, Borowiecki and Hainsey could end up staying put for the rest of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch also noted that Dorion won’t make a move just for the sake of doing so. The Senators GM indicated they’ve already got a lot of draft picks and prospects in the pipeline. He could instead want a young player who can step into the Senators lineup right away, like Anthony Duclair when he was acquired last season from Columbus.

SHOULD THE OILERS PURSUE COLEMAN?

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins doubts the Oilers will be going big-game hunting at the trade deadline. However, he suggested New Jersey Devils forward Blake Coleman as a trade option.

The 28-year-old has a year remaining on his contract, and the Devils could go into a full rebuild under new GM Tom Fitzgerald. Coleman is a versatile two-way player who’s scored 20 goals this season. Leavins wondered if an offer of Jesse Puljujarvi and either a third-round pick or a prospect might land Coleman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coleman’s name recently surfaced in the rumor mill, but we don’t know if Fitzgerald (the Devils’ interim GM) intends to move out players on contracts that expire at the end of next season. We also don’t know if Oilers GM Ken Holland has Coleman on his radar. If he does, I doubt Puljujarvi and a third-rounder or a mid-range prospect will be enticing to Fitzgerald, who could get better offers from other clubs.