New Jersey Devils Name New Head Coach

PHT Morning Skate: Lamoriello is Reverend Killjoy

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

The Devils have been substantially better at the beginning of this season, but Lou Lamoriello isn’t ready to give the love yet: “But right now you don’t compete against your opponents. You compete against yourself. This team is still coming together. We’re a work in progress.” What a killjoy. (Star-Ledger)

It’s time to be real: Anze Kopitar is one of the best centers in the NHL. (LA Kings Insider)

Nothing is wrong with Alex Ovechkin. So says Alex Ovechkin… and everyone else on the Caps (QMI Agency)

That Mike Gillis guy in Vancouver is pretty good at GMing. (Canucks Army)

Great article dissecting Phil Kessel, his personality, and trying to play in hockey-crazed Toronto. (Yahoo)

Who knew that the Rangers would be able to ride a seven-game winning streak on the backs of their defensemen… without Marc Staal (Slap Shot blog)

Speaking of defense, this just in: blocking shots is a tough job in the NHL. (Star Tribune)

It’s almost unbelievable to ask this question after the way they started the season, but could the Sens be looking to add players to make a run for the playoffs? (Ottawa Citizen)

Finally, check out this hit that puts Marc Fistric halfway into the penalty box. Next thing we know, someone will say the doors are too dangerous and need to be rounded off too. (NHL)

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?