Game on in the Nordic countries: MTG makes broadcast agreement with NHL

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We might take our NHL coverage for granted here in North America with Versus, NBC, TSN, Sportsnet and CBC (among others) all taking care of everything so we can see the game we love, but our friends in Europe weren’t having such an easy time.

That’s all different now for our friends in Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark as MTG (Modern Times Group) has acquired the rights to broadcast the NHL to all the Nordic countries in Europe and will show every game in some form to all those countries. The deal breaks down pretty well for fans across Scandinavia.

MTG has the rights to show live coverage of all 1230 regular season games as well as every Stanley Cup playoff game each season on its pay-TV channels and Viaplay online multi-screen video streaming service across the Nordic region. Certain games also will be made available on MTG’s free-TV channels.

That means games being viewable on TV and the Internet. Just imagine being over here and having to sweat things out waiting for a broadcast deal to be cut like this. With so many players coming from these countries (around 10% of the NHL hails from here) that’s a lot of people with a vested interest in the game.

Just think if Swedes couldn’t watch half of the Red Wings lineup or Henrik Lundqvist, the Finns were denied Teemu Selanne, Norwegians couldn’t gaze upon Mats Zuccarello, or Danes were held back from Frans Nielsen or Peter Regin. That’s no good. It also won’t be an issue anymore.

Now we’ll all get to work on our Swedish and Finnish (and Norwegian and Danish) to have some fun with you guys in your native language. Where’s that online translator again…

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?