Red Wings hoping Nicklas Lidstrom makes retirement decision soon

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for lidstrom2.jpgThe Detroit Red Wings are hoping that legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom decides whether or not to retire before the June 25-26 NHL Entry Draft, reports Ansar Khan of The story indicates that the genius Swede will at least make his choice before the first day of unrestricted free agency, which is July 1.

Most in the Red Wings organization, including Holland, coach Mike Babcock and Lidstrom’s longtime teammates, think the six-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman will return.

The Red Wings hope to sign him for slightly less than the $7.45 million he earned last season, likely for between $5 million and $6 million.

Holland said he hasn’t delved too deeply into contract talks with forwards Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi, a pair of unrestricted free agents the club also hopes to re-sign.

Khan reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland will likely make qualifying offers to the team’s restricted free agents, including spark plug forward Darren Helm. He’s also expected to attempt to bring back the unexpectedly productive Bertuzzi, goalie screening expert Tomas Holmstrom and already signed one year export Jiri Hudler.

Getting Lidstrom back for $5 to $6 million would be a real boon for Detroit. He’s easily worth that much money, even at his “advanced” age. It could come down to term, at least if the blueliner would prefer a few extra years.

Want more information on the Red Wings salary cap situation? Be sure to check out my breakdown of their 2010-11 commitments right here.

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?