The San Jose Sharks are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs. Two straight losses to Anaheim and Phoenix have them tied in points with eighth-place Los Angeles in the West, but the Kings have a game in hand.
The last time the Sharks failed to qualify for the playoffs was the 2002-03 season. To put that in perspective, 2003-04 was the last time the Leafs made the playoffs, and we all know the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs in, like, forever.
San Jose still controls its destiny with two games remaining against each of the Dallas Stars and Kings. However, it’s worth wondering what the fallout could be if the Sharks finish on the outside looking in. And even if they do squeak in, what happens if they’re eliminated in the first round?
On the one hand, San Jose’s only one season removed from an appearance in the conference finals. It’s not an old team by any means. Michal Handzus is the elder statesman, and he’s only 35. The Sharks should be in their prime.
On the other, there’s no excuse for this team to miss the playoffs. Martin Havlat’s the only Shark that’s missed significant time with an injury. The rest of the core – Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Logan Couture, Ryan Clowe – has missed a combined eight games.
We’ve been down this path before with San Jose. The calls for the team to be blown up. Trade Thornton. Trade Marleau. Fire GM Doug Wilson. If the Sharks miss the playoffs, those options won’t seem so drastic.
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.
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?