NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Tomas Hertl, Jason Zucker and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 25-save shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Killorn collected two assists and rookie Ross Colton tallied his first NHL goal as the Lightning (25 points) move to within one point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division.

Speaking of the Panthers, they fell 3-0 to the Dallas Stars. Anton Khudobin kicked out 43 shots for the shutout and Joe Pavelski picked up two assists as the Stars snapped a six-game winless skid.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images)

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux picked up three assists after coming off the COVID-19 protocol list as his club held off the New York Rangers 4-3. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick and Mika Zibanejad has two assists.

William Nylander scored the tying and winning goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime. Flame goalie David Rittich made 37 saves as he was denied his second straight shutout of the Leafs.

Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise tallied his 800th career point and teammate Mats Zuccarello got his 400th in a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Nico Sturm also scored twice as the Wild (20 points) have won four straight games to sit one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Coyotes, they overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Anaheim Ducks for the second straight game. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist for Arizona as they took the game on a shootout goal by Christian Dvorak. Coyotes backup Adin Hill made 14 saves in relief of Darcy Kuemper after the latter left the game with a lower-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their sixth straight victory by hanging on for a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Cal Petersen turned aside 35 shots for the win on second-period goals by Alex Iafallo and Andreas Athanasiou.

HEADLINES

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Kontinental Hockey League said it had not been made aware of or received any complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin back in December 2011.

Panarin’s former KHL coach Andrei Nazarov alleged the Rangers winger assaulted a young woman in a bar following a game in Riga, Latvia. The KHL said it would’ve investigated any such complaint as they take allegations of misconduct “incredibly seriously”.

To date, there’s been no corroborating evidence to support Nazarov’s allegation. No victim has come forward nor has there been any police record of the alleged incident. Kip Brennan and Jon Mirasty, two of Panarin’s former Vityaz teammates, both said they never knew or heard of the incident taking place.

Another former teammate, Mikhail Anisin, told Russian outlet Sport-Express the incident didn’t play out as Nazarov described, recalling Panarin “didn’t beat anyone, maybe pushed one girl a little bit, nothing more” in a karaoke bar. Anisin said police did come to the team hotel but left after determining the situation didn’t warrant charges. He also rejected the notion of the police being paid off as the players at the time didn’t have that type of money.

Panarin remains on a leave of absence from the Rangers as he deals with this situation. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is looking into the allegations. Kaplan said it would be uncharacteristic of the league to punish Panarin without corroborating evidence.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker also cited Anisin’s comments. She also spoke with Maxim Sitnikov, who briefly played with Panarin during that season. Sitnikov also denied the alleged incident took place, praising the winger’s character and rejecting what he called “villains” saying “all sorts of nonsense.” Walker cited two more former Vityaz players who requested to remain anonymous agreeing with Brennan’s and Mirasty’s version of events.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The allegation against Panarin is quickly falling apart. Unless Nazarov can produce evidence to corroborate his story he should withdraw his comments and issue an apology to the Rangers’ star.

SPORTSNET: The NHL postponed Thursday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights after a Sharks player tested positive for COVID-19. Sharks center Tomas Hertl was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list yesterday. New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller was also added to the list, which is now down to eight players, four of them members of the Flyers.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jason Zucker has returned to Pittsburgh for further evaluation for what appeared to be an injured knee or ankle suffered during their recent game against the Washington Capitals.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon is sidelined at least a month with a fractured hand.

TSN: The Penguins yesterday claimed defenseman Mark Friedman off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.

CBC SPORTS: Vancouver Canucks forward Antoine Roussel was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL for roughing Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Pulujarvi on Tuesday.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes will soon be allowed to admit some fans to their games following North Carolina governor Roy Cooper’s announcement yesterday that indoor arenas can open to 15 percent capacity.

NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Gary Inness passed away on Feb. 23 from dementia at age 71. Inness played 162 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals from 1973-74 to 1980-81. He also coached the AHL’s Hershey Bears from 1981-82 to 1984-85. Following his hockey career, he became a teacher and guidance counselor at Barrie North Collegiate Institute until his retirement in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Inness’ family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2021

Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, recaps of Tuesday’s games, the latest on Artemi Panarin, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

**UPDATE**

The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller. Assistant coach Dominique Ducharme has become interim head coach while Alex Burrows has joined the coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After bursting from the gate with a 7-1-2 record the Canadiens were 2-6-2 and in danger of falling out of playoff contention in the North Division. General manager Marc Bergevin was busy in the offseason improving the roster. A coaching change was the next step. It’ll be interesting to see how the Habs respond to this move. 

Ducharme spent eight seasons coaching in the QMJHL, guiding the Halifax Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup in 2013. He was also a two-time bench boss of Canada’s World Junior team, coaching them to a gold medal in 2018. He joined the Habs’ coaching staff as an assistant later that year.  Following his NHL career, Burrows joined the Canadiens’ farm team in Laval as an assistant coach. 

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark made 41 saves in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, handing the latter their third straight loss. Buffalo winger Sam Reinhart collected two assists. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced defenseman William Borgen will be sidelined up to two months following surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken right forearm.

The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their third straight win by edging the Washington Capitals 3-2. Kasperi Kapanen tallied the winner in overtime as he and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist. It was a costly win for the Penguins as Jason Zucker and Kris Letang left the game with injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker’s injury looked serious as he had to be helped off the ice after crashing awkwardly into the boards. An update on both players could be made later today.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Patrick Kane scored his 398th career goal and collected three assists as the Chicago Blackhawks nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-5. Alex DeBrincat tallied the game-winner in a shootout while Carl Soderberg had three points for the Hawks. Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand each scored twice for the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is playing his way into the Hart Memorial Trophy conversation. He’s the engine driving a Blackhawks team that wasn’t expected to be a playoff contender this season. They’re third in the Discover Central Division with 24 points, two behind the first-place Florida Panthers.

Shootout goals by Tim Stutzle and Josh Norris gave the Ottawa Senators a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last eight games. Brady Tkachuk tallied twice for the Senators, including the game-tying goal after the Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead. Shea Weber tallied twice for the Habs. Senators center Derek Stepan left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher wasn’t happy after his apparent game-winning goal in the dying seconds of regulation was overturned by what he considered a questionable goaltender interference call. Regardless of the validity of Gallagher’s complaint, the Canadiens once again struggled against the worst team in the league. The loss led to today’s firing of Claude Julien as head coach. 

Pekka Rinne had a 24-save shutout as the Nashville Predators blanked the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist as both goals came in the third period.

The Edmonton Oilers scored four unanswered goals (three in the third period) to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Dominik Kahun tallied twice and Leon Draisaitl collected three assists for the Oilers. Canucks center Elias Pettersson had a goal and an assist.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Four of Artemi Panarin’s former KHL teammates dispute their former coach’s claim the New York Rangers winger assaulted a young woman in Riga, Latvia in 2011. The allegation by former Vityaz coach Andrei Nazarov forced Panarin to take a leave of absence from the Rangers. Nazarov, a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has publicly criticized Panarin in the past for his outspoken views of the Putin regime.

Larry Brooks reports there’s been no corroboration thus far of Nazarov’s account. Sources say the NHL hasn’t opened an independent investigation and has no intention of doing so due to the lack of credible evidence. There’s no timeline for Panarin’s absence. A source refuted a report the winger sought and was granted two weeks. He remains at his Connecticut home.

Brooks cites a source claiming Nazarov didn’t have a good relationship with Panarin when the winger played for him. Another suggested Nazarov was trying to curry favor with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation in hope of being rewarded with a coaching job.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some have wondered why Panarin needs to take time away from the Rangers after claiming Nazarov’s accusation is baseless. He still has family in Russia and is apparently concerned about the effect of this story on them.

Nazarov reportedly claimed Panarin was detained by local police officials and there were a criminal case and trial. That should be easily verified by local records but nothing has been produced thus far to back up that claim.

SPORTSNET: Henrik Lundqvist is back on the ice less than two months after undergoing open-heart surgery. He was in full gear taking shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication if this means a return to action for Lundqvist is in the near future. Nevertheless, it’s great to see him back on the ice again as he continues his recovery.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers captain Claude Giroux returned to practice yesterday for the first time after testing positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago. The Flyers will evaluate him in practice today to determine if he’ll face the Rangers tonight. Teammates Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun remain on the COVID protocol list.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. He suffered the injury during last Friday’s game against the Blackhawks.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson suffered a season-ending knee injury during Monday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings. It could also end his tenure with the Blues as he’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

NHL.COM: The league released another update to its schedule to account for games previously postponed by COVID-19 protocols and recent winter storms in Texas.










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