Both Conference finals series to start on Sunday

Sunday, May 16 looks to be a great day for hockey fans. Both the Western and Eastern Conference finals will begin on then, with the Blackhawks-Sharks tilt appearing on NBC at 3 PM ET. Here’s the news from the NHL.

The National Hockey League today announced that the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final, featuring the San Jose Sharks vs. the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Eastern Conference Final, featuring the Montreal Canadiens vs. the winner of the Boston Bruins-Philadelphia Flyers Conference Semifinal series, will begin Sunday, May 16.

The Sharks will host the Blackhawks at 3 p.m., ET in Game #1 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday. The game will be televised exclusively on NBC in the U.S. and TSN and RDS in Canada.

Meanwhile, either the Bruins or the Flyers will host the Canadiens Sunday at 7 p.m., ET. That game will be televised exclusively by VERSUS in the U.S. and by CBC and RDS in Canada. Every playoff game also can be heard on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.

Naturally, we’ll have plenty of coverage for tomorrow’s unexpected Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. More on that game (as well as the two conference finals series) to come.

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
1 Comment

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
Leave a comment

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?