It took the New York Rangers seven games, and they only barely managed to come away with a 2-1 victory on Thursday, but they’ve succeeded. They’re going to the second round.
“They should be real proud of themselves,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “For about an hour.”
Yes, because ultimately getting past the first round was never the goal. The Rangers finished the season with the top seed in the Eastern Conference and won more games than any team still standing. A long playoff run is the expectation, although to accomplish that they’ll have to get through the Washington Capitals. Washington dispatched them in five games last season, but a lot has changed over the last year.
“They’re a team that’s a lot like we are,” Henrik Lundqvist told PHT’s Joe Yerdon. “It’s going to be a hard series.”
The Rangers have already experienced one of those in their playoff run and so have the Capitals for that matter. Then again, there aren’t many easy playoff series anymore.
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?