Kovalchuk taking time on decision to return to Devils

kovalchuk.jpgBefore Jacques Lemaire ‘retired’ from coaching, I was a bit skeptical
on the prospects of Ilya Kovalchuk returning to the New Jersey Devils
next season. The system is place was stifling the offense of the team
and Kovalchuk, while brought in to provide an offensive spark in the
playoffs, was far from productive when the team needed him most.

that a new coach will be in place next season, I’m not so sure. The
Devils certainly have a great nucleus of players to continue to build
around, especially on offense. Per
Tom Gulutti of NorthJersey.com
, Kovalchuk is noncommittal at this

“Right now I can’t tell you anything because I just want to stay away
from the game a little bit and spend some time with my family and
regroup,” he said. “I’ve still got time to think.”

Kovalchuk’s agent and the team have yet to start contract
negotiations, and it’s likely there won’t be anytime soon. I’m sure just
one day after the Lemaire news is not exactly time enough for Kovalchuk
to change his mind on returning, and I’m certain that the finances
involved are going to be playing a much bigger part in negotiations than
whether Lemaire was returning or not.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.

You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:

If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.

The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?