PHT Morning Skate: Val James honored; Top 20 NHL Defensemen

PHT Morning Skate: Val James honored; Top 20 NHL Defensemen
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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit for the PHT Morning Skate? Email us at

• Val James broke ground as the NHL’s first Black player born in America to appear in a game on Nov. 1, 1981. The Sabres and the NHL honored James for that achievement, something he was “humbled” by. Val James, 63, played seven regular-season games and three playoff contests with the Sabres in 1981-82. During a journeyman career, Val James also appeared in four games with the Maple Leafs in 1986-87. []

The Sabres honored Val James’ achievement with this video:

• With no 2021 class set to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, who should be added for 2022? [Greatest Hockey Legends]

• Kudos to The Score for going with a Halloween-themed review of 2020 NHL Free Agency this weekend. It’s (sighs at self) a treat. [The Score]

• Former Maple Leafs assistant Paul McFarland shares takeaways from his time with the team. While McFarland was only with Toronto for a season before leaving for the OHL, it was quite the year. [TSN]

• What’s next for the NHL, heading into 2020-21, and beyond? [Sportsnet]

• As we all know, the best thing about ranked lists is arguing about them. With that in mind, argumentative types will have plenty to chew on with NHL Network’s Top 20 Defensemen list. [NHL Network]

• Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis believes that the flat salary cap could really benefit his team. They’re already looking at various ways to leverage their situation, and the vulnerabilities of other teams. [The Athletic (sub required)]

• Early season awards for the KHL. [The Hockey News]

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.