Backstrom Crosscheck

Backstrom apologizes for Peverley cross-check: “It was stupid on my part”


On the even of serving his suspension for cross-checking Boston forward Rich Peverley in the face, Washington center Nicklas Backstrom expressed remorse over his costly actions.

“[Peverley] was going after Ovi [Alex Ovechkin] first and then I was just turning around, so that’s all I can say,” Backstrom told reporters Wednesday.

“I’m sorry about that. It was stupid on my part.”

Backstrom received a match penalty for intent to injure and, on Thursday, will serve the mandatory game suspension that goes along with it. He’ll miss Game 4 with his team trailing the Bruins 2-1 in the series.

The loss figures to be a crucial one for the Caps. The 24-year-old Swede is their top center, scored Washington’s only game-winning goal of the series, plays over 23 minutes a night and has been solid in the faceoff circle (55.8 percent). That last part is big, because without Backstrom the duties fall to Jay Beagle (who has been great, at 63.6 percent) and Brooks Laich who has been awful at 35.6 percent — and he’s taken the most draws on the team.

Caps head coach Dale Hunter admitted losing Backstrom would hurt, but wanted to put it in the past.

“It’s disappointing,” Hunter said. “[But] he’s suspended, it’s in the history books and we have to concentrate tomorrow”

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?