Johan Franzen, Jakub Kindl

Could Detroit end up in the Southeast Division? It’s being discussed


Could the Detroit Red Wings end up in the Southeast Division next year? According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, that’s one realignment move that’s getting the most traction amongst the NHL governors.

According to McKenzie, the idea getting the most run would see the Red Wings move to the Southeast Division and trading places with the Winnipeg Jets in a straight swap, sending the Jets back to the Western Conference. Getting to the Eastern Conference has been high on the Wings’ wish list and with realignment coming next season, there will be changes ahead. It would also mean that fellow Eastern time zone mates in Columbus would be stuck still holding the bag in the Western Conference.

Of course, this move is nearly as logical as having Winnipeg in the Southeast now. The closest team to Detroit, geographically speaking, would be Washington, followed by Carolina. Having the two Florida teams as division mates makes virtually no sense at all. Getting the Red Wings in the mix with Alex Ovechkin and Steve Stamkos (not to mention former Wings captain and current Lightning GM Steve Yzerman) helps create a lot of marquee matchups and added drama.

Winnipeg moving to the Central Division would end the Dallas Stars’ hopes of landing in the Central and getting themselves out of the Pacific Division. It also means that the NHL Board of Governors would be both caving in to Detroit’s wishes (granting a Bettman promise?) while simultaneously wussing out on giving the NHL the radical realignment and four division setup that’s been rumored already.

If you want to throw your tinfoil hat on for a second, the NHL could be holding off on their radical realignment while they figure out just what and potentially where the Phoenix Coyotes end up. Their future in the desert hangs by a thread and if they are forced to relocate, it could change things dramatically. That’s enough of the tinfoil though.

If the NHL wants to get things right, they’ll do it by making things as normal as possible. Planting palm trees in Detroit doesn’t make them a southeastern team. It’s either that or they’re taking the lyrics to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” a bit too literal about that whole “South Detroit” thing.

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?