Sidney Crosby, Ryan Miller, and Taylor Hall the NHL three stars of the week

Just about any other week during the season you’d see Ryan Miller walk away with the NHL’s #1 star of the week award. In a week that features Sidney Crosby scoring five goals, including a hat trick in one game, that just won’t get it done. The NHL announced their three stars of the week and it would be the Penguins captain taking home top honors.

Crosby is in the midst of a 15-game point scoring streak and has been instrumental in leading the Pens on their current nine-game winning streak. This past week, Crosby had five goals and one assist including a hat trick against Atlanta and two goals against Columbus on Saturday. Crosby is first in the NHL in points and in goals. It’s good to be the Kid.

Miller, meanwhile, earned his first two shutouts of the season in back-to-back games against Ottawa and Columbus. He faced 51 shots this week and stopped them all leading the Sabres to to a 2-0-0 record. That kind of action out of Miller is exactly what the Sabres have been hoping for out of Miller. Getting it done against consistent pain in the rear Ottawa and a reeling Columbus team is a good way to do it.

Taylor Hall is no slouch either. Hall had a breakout week of sorts scoring four goals in four games including the game-winner in overtime against St. Louis. The Oilers are in the midst of a four-game win streak and Hall has been a big contributor to that. Over the team’s last eight games, scoring six goals (two of them game-winners). The Oilers have show resiliency lately and it’s thanks to the play of Hall they’ve been able to withstand pressure and win games.

One feather in Hall’s cap compared to the other two stars of the week: He didn’t have to light up Columbus in order to get recognized.

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?