Blue Jackets Jets Hockey

Byfuglien, Ladd return to Chicago for first time since winning Cup

It’s been a while since Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd and assistant captain Dustin Byfuglien have been in Chicago. In fact, the last time they were around, they were carrying that big silver chalice around the city during the Blackhawks own version of the Ultimate Pub Crawl. Since then, the Blackhawks liquidated half their Cup winning team to slide under the salary cap—leading to new teams and new roles for Ladd and Byfuglien.

Since the Atlanta Thrashers didn’t play in Chicago last season, this is the first time Ladd and Byfuglien will appear on United Center ice since winning it all in 2010. Andrew Ladd talked to about returning to Chicago—this time as the enemy:

“It’s a little weird, but it’s definitely fun to be back and see a lot of familiar faces and people I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s going to be a fun night for us. A few of us went out for dinner (Wednesday) night, so it was fun to see those knuckleheads and catch up a little bit and see what they’ve been up to.”

Plenty has happened since the pair helped the Hawks win their first Cup in 49 years. Ladd lead his new team with 29 goals and 59 points last season. Right behind him, Byfuglien had 20 goals and 53 points from the blueline. The two were brought in by the Atlanta organization to help bring more talent – and a winning attitude – to the team. They showed the talent part when they were the two leading scorers last season. The next challenge will be for the duo to help the Jets pull together the young talent on roster and make it translate into a playoff spot.

After all, they’ve been part of the same process in Chicago.

Just because they have some good memories from their time in the Windy City, don’t expect Byfuglien and Ladd to take it easy on their former teammates. Byfuglien had a message for the current Blackhawks:

“I’m not afraid to run anybody and knock these guys around a little bit.”

Sounds like it should be a good time.

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?