Things have been a little bit rocky lately for the Tampa Bay Lightning, even if they’re still having a much more positive campaign than last season. Vincent Lecavalier went down with an injury and was only mildly effective when he was playing. Simon Gagne just came back from neck problems and seems like he’s finally contributing something after going without a point in his first games with the team.
Perhaps most disturbingly, Steve Stamkos and the Lighting cooled off a bit lately, as the club went 1-2-1 in their last four games (including 6-0 and 8-1 beatings).
If the Lightning are going to right the ship, they might have to do it without one of their most underrated players. Damian Cristodero reports that Steve Downie is being evaluated today for what might be a broken ankle.
Downie is the tough-as-nails compliment to Stamkos and Martin St. Louis on one of the league’s most productive lines, so a significant injury would be a big blow. That being said, it’s not very easy to empathize with Downie; while he seems like he rejuvenated his career, he has a lengthy history of underhanded behavior.
While he’s far from an angel, the Lightning would still miss him if he’s out for a considerable amount of time. We’ll pass along word once it surfaces.
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.
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?