Jordan Staal needs second foot surgery in two months

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Jordan Staalpuckprotect.jpgJordan Staal is recovering from his second foot surgery in as many months, reports Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. After getting injured in a first round series with the Ottawa Senators, the lanky center came back from surgery sooner than just about anyone else expected during the Penguins’ second round series with the Montreal Canadiens.

Penguins center Jordan Staal, who came back to play in the second round of the playoffs six days after surgery to repair a sliced tendon on the top of his right foot, had a second surgery about three weeks ago.

“I just had a minor procedure just to kind of help it move along quicker and heal faster,” Staal said during a media availability today at the Palms Casino Resort, site of Wednesday’s NHL Awards show. He is a finalist for the Selke Award, which goes to the top defensive forward.

We’ll find out if the younger brother of Eric Staal will be a Frank Selke Award winner tonight. He faces some truly tough competition, though, in the form of near-perennial Selke winner Pavel Datsyuk and Olympic standout Ryan Kesler.

It’s unclear if Staal has the offensive instincts to live up to his No. 2 draft position, but he’s still an asset to Pittsburgh. He might not score like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, but Jordan Staal allows the team to rank among the league’s deepest at center.

Staal said that he expects to be in crutches/a “boot” for about three more weeks and then will need some rehab afterward. From that estimate, it sounds like he won’t miss training camp but we’ll let you know if his status changes.

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?