In today’s collection of notable NHL morning headlines: Blues replace David Payne as head coach with Ken Hitchcock…Panthers could demote Jacob Markstrom…Georges Laraque claims NHL has PED problem…Cam Fowler continuing to develop…Martin Biron reaches milestone in Rangers wins…Ethan Moreau fined…Kings deny Blue Jackets contacted them about assistant GM…Lightning lose two key players to injury.


Blues fire Payne, hire Hitchcock as head coach.

STLTODAY.COM/BND.COM: report the St. Louis Blues last night fired Davis Payne as head coach, replacing him with Ken Hitchcock.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This comes as a surprise, not just because the Blues fired Payne, but because Hitchcock was rumored on the verge of rejoining the Columbus Blue Jackets as head coach.  The Blues needed a change as they were off to a disappointing start, and Hitchcock could be what they need. He’s an experienced bench boss, one of the most respected in the NHL, who coached the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999. 

MIAMI HERALD: The Florida Panthers are expected to recall goalie Scott Clemmensen from their farm team today, and are “almost certain” to demote Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I admit I’m surprised by this development, as I felt Markstrom had played well enough to take over the backup role. Still, Clemmensen is an experienced netminder, and perhaps if he gets in enough games at the NHL level this season,he could be used as a trade chip later in the season; in which case, Markstrom could return to the Panthers lineup again later this season.

OTTAWA SUN: Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque writes in his new book he fought against the use of PEDs during his 12-year NHL career, and attempted to get the NHLPA to take action against the abuse of these drugs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While I doubt the use of PEDs is as widespread in the NHL as it is, or has been, in other pro sports, I’m also not naive about their usage. Laraque’s comments shed further light on this subject and should be further investigated by the league and the PA.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Young Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler continues to develop into the top pairing defenseman they envisioned he would become.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fowler in my opinion will one day become a perennial candidate for the Norris trophy.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goalie Martin Biron recorded his 27th career shutout as he backstopped his team to a 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets.

KUKLA’S KORNER: The NHL has fined LA Kings forward Ethan Moreau $2,500.00 for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings GM Dean Lombardi claimed no other club has contacted him expressing interest in hiring assistant GM Ron Hextall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It had been rumored the floundering Columbus Blue Jackets were interested in hiring Hextall.

TBO.COM: The Lightning lost forward Ryan Malone and defenseman Victor Hedman to “upper body injuries”. Their status for the Lightning’s next game – Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers – is uncertain.