With the Nashville Predators now down 2-0 in their series against the Phoenix Coyotes, head coach Barry Trotz has a lot of questions to answer. One thing he didn’t do was throw big-money goalie Pekka Rinne under the bus, as he mostly excused him from the blame game according to Dennis Bernstein.
“He’s been OK but the team in front of him hasn’t,” Trotz said. “Our defensive core has been real light – people staring at the puck and not taking anyone.”
Trotz essentially spread the blame across the team, not really beating up on Alex Radulov (Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick did plenty of that).
“Too many guys didn’t bring their A game,” Trotz said. “We’re not detailed enough as we were in (the Detroit) series.”
It’s weird to think that a Predators team might “believe their press clippings,” but perhaps Nashville is taking the Coyotes a little too lightly. (Or maybe Phoenix is a lot better than most people realized.)
Trotz’s criticism of the team-wide game makes a lot of sense for a variety of reasons, but the Predators’ 5-on-5 play is the most glaring area of worry. Nashville scored on both of its power plays and killed both Coyotes man advantages, which means that the team was a -4 in even strength play in Game 2.
Those are the kind of simple numbers that will give defense-minded coaches like Trotz indigestion and it’s obvious that the Predators need to find some relief – fast.
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?