November 15 — Leo’s Leaving & Northern Notifications

SURGICAL SUCCESS: Jack Eichel’s artificial disk replacement surgery was declared a success on Friday afternoon. Eichel had the surgery in Denver and will stay in the Mile High City for the next three weeks before finishing his three-month rehab in Las Vegas.

SATURDAY SPENDING: It was an expensive Saturday for Minnesota Wild defenseman Alex Goligoski and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues. Goligoski was fined $5,000 for his high stick on Seattle Kraken forward Jordan Eberle, while Rodrigues was charged $2,500 for a dangerous trip on Ottawa Senators forward Zach Sanford.

A DOGG HAS HIS DAY: For the third time in three years, the LA Kings and Snoop Dogg teamed up to honor the LA-based rapper. On Dec. 9, 2021, the Kings will host Snoop to promote his latest album ALGORITHM at the Staples Center. Past Snoop Dogg-themed games included a bobblehead night in 2020 and a gem of a TV broadcast from the booth in 2019.

UP AND DOWD: Despite being on injured reserve, the Washington Capitals signed Nic Dowd to a three-year extension with an average annual value (AAV) of $1.3 million on Sunday. Dowd, a 31-year-old center, has one goal on the season and missed his third game in a row with a lower-body injury.

6TH TO 600: Connor McDavid scored his 600th and 601st points on Sunday night, becoming the 6th fastest player in NHL history to notch 600 points. It took McDavid 421 games to hit the 600 mark. Only Jari Kurri (419), Mike Bossy (400), Peter Šťastný (394), Mario Lemieux (323), and Wayne Gretzky (274) reached the milestone in fewer games.

Spotted 👀

Hockey families are our absolute favorite. Whether it’s the addition of a little one or a player’s fluffy four-legged friend, we eat it up like Thanksgiving turkey. This past week was a busy one for some of our favorite players, and luckily we are here to break down the biggest sightings. Let’s check in.

Family of Four

Who doesn’t love a good baby announcement? Bo Horvat, captain of the Vancouver Canucks, and his wife Holly are expecting baby No. 2. After the couple welcomed their first child Gunnar on June 28, 2020, they used their horse standing next to Gunnar, along with little cowboy boots, to make this an announcement to remember. Congrats to the couple!

Big Fan

A few members of the LA Kings headed to SoFi Stadium to catch the Los Angeles Chargers play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The home team may have lost 27-20, but at least the boys were able to get in an afternoon of bonding. Drew Doughty, Quinton Byfield, and Cal Petersen were all spotted in Chargers apparel.

Family Pictures

Autumn is the perfect time for families to get dressed up and take photos for their yearly holiday cards. This year it seems that it’s the pups who are stealing the spotlight. Matt and Sydney Martin’s entire family is perfection, and their Rottweiler Jax looks like he is ready for his first IAMS commercial. Meanwhile, Connor Murphy and Kristina Trifunovic’s Samoyed Finn is a whole mood. Have you seen this dog’s expression?

North of the Border

As one of Morning Skate’s resident Canadians, I feel it is my duty to serve as the finger that the newsletter keeps on the pulse of what’s going on north of the 49th parallel. And so far this season, the seven franchises that comprise the NHL’s red and white contingent have been anything but boring.

Checking in on the seven Canadian NHL teams, we find there’s been lots of good, lots of bad, and precious little mediocre. Time to take a closer look!

Calgary Flames

After a torrid start, the Flames have come back down to Earth somewhat. They are 2-2-3 in November following a 6-1-1 start. Still, Calgary and the Edmonton Oilers continue to vie for the top spot in the Pacific Division, making for what will be a fascinating Battle of Alberta series this season.

Edmonton Oilers

Everyone, except for John Tortorella, has remained impressed by Connor McDavid this season as he continues to pace the league in points and recently became one of the youngest players in NHL history to hit 600 career points.

Montreal Canadiens

Looking for the reigning Stanley Cup finalists? You may want to check near the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Carey Price continues to slowly work his way back, while Shea Weber is out and his future remains cloudy. Hyped Calder hopeful Cole Caufield? He’s been demoted to the AHL’s Laval Rocket after a slow start that saw him produce just one assist in 10 games. The Habs own a -22 goal differential, and the natives are growing restless!

Ottawa Senators

The Senators probably didn’t need any help along the path to the Atlantic basement, but a whopping 10 players in the COVID protocol has clearly greased the skids toward another top draft pick. An early test for the new captain, perhaps?

Toronto Maple Leafs

Relax, Leafs nation, everything is okay. A 2-4-1 start elevated some heart rates in Toronto, but the “Core Four” has led the charge in winning eight of the last nine. That oughta buy at least two games before the next panic switch gets pressed.

Vancouver Canucks

Three games, 19 goals allowed. Thatcher Demko and Jaroslav Halák must sure be tired of that red light going off behind them!

Winnipeg Jets

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the season that Kyle Connor is quietly having. He’s got 19 points and as many goals (11) as anyone not named Leon Draisaitl or Alex Ovechkin. He might even be the second-best “Connor” on a Canadian team!

Uncle Leo’s Best Moments

It was made official that Leo Komarov would be returning to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) after being placed on waivers by the New York Islanders on Saturday. On his Instagram, he said that expects to join SKA “soon,” which is one of the best teams in that league. He may not have been the most skilled player, but there was always a joyous moment when he was on the ice. Let’s relive some of them as we rewind his NHL career.

Leo Komarov, formerly of the New York Islanders (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Lower Your Visor

During a Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Winnipeg Jets, it was deemed that Komarov had an illegal visor and was assessed a penalty for it. The refs had warned him prior to the game but he did not lower it, and as soon as the Maple Leafs touched the puck in the first period, they gave him a penalty. He was clearly not happy over it, but he would never receive this penalty again after this moment.

Fued With Justin Williams

If there is one characteristic that the Finnish winger will be remembered for, it was his ability to get under his opponent’s skin. During the 2017 Playoffs, when the Maple Leafs faced off against the Washington Capitals in the first round, Komarov formed a feud with Justin Williams. Whether it was tripping each other, giving extra shoves, touching each other’s helmets, or making animal noises, it was very entertaining to watch.

Not Fighting Ryan Reaves

The most memorable moment of his career came in a 2017 game against the St. Louis Blues, where there was some heated action. Ryan Reaves attempted to fight Komarov after a hit and he just escorted Reaves to the bench while looking away and deciding not to partake in any vicious activities. Komarov may not have been known for his fighting ability, but he was a tough customer.