Alex Ovechkin, Rob Niedermayer

Rob Niedermayer will play in Switzerland next season

For the first time since his brother Scott came into the league in 1991-92, there won’t be a Niedermayer in the NHL. Former Buffalo Sabres center Rob Niedermayer will play the 2011-12 season overseas with Lugano in Switzerland, according to Darren Dreger.

While his brother Scott is poised for a Hall of Fame induction after completing superlative work with the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks, Rob will settle for his useful career in the league. As Battle of California‘s Earl Sleek would say, Rob Niedermayer was a “Hall of Famer along the boards” but a plodding defensive forward in other areas of the ice.

Niedermayer’s first great run came with fellow high Florida Panthers draft pick Ed Jovanovski (Rob Niedermayer was the fifth overall pick of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft; Jovocop was the first pick in ’94) as the duo factored into Florida’s one great run to the 1996 Stanley Cup finals. Niedermayer served as a solid defensive forward in Florida, Calgary and Anaheim before bouncing around in New Jersey and Buffalo during the last two seasons.

His most valuable moment probably came when he helped lure his brother to Anaheim. Bringing Scott helped give that team some much-needed credibility while the Chris Pronger trade gave the team two Norris Trophy winners. The team promptly won the 2007 Stanley Cup with that combination and Rob was there to celebrate with his brother.

Maybe he didn’t have the kind of career expected of a top-five draft pick and he certainly wasn’t at his brother’s lofty level, but Rob Niedermayer can ride off into the Swiss sunset with his head held high.

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?