US Bobby Ryan slides into the net of Fin

Dallas Stars watch Lehtonen, Goligoski take tough hits overseas


Earlier today, Mike passed along word that the United States bludgeoned Finland 5-0 to make the quarterfinals of the 2012 World Championships. The Dallas Stars might have “lost” just as much as Finland in the grand scheme of things, though.

Mark Stepneski reports that workhorse goalie Kari Lehtonen suffered a knee/lower-body injury after Bobby Ryan bumped him while crashing the net:

As Stepneski notes, Lehtonen didn’t return to the contest but there wasn’t much time left and Finland was already well behind. That wasn’t the only nail-biting moment for Stars brass on Sunday, however, as Alex Goligoski also was boarded, as you can see in this video:

As disturbing as that hit looked, Goligoski reportedly didn’t miss a shift. Naturally, things could change once he gets examined again (the Stars might want to insist on as much) but that’s a positive sign.

It all goes to show that many NHL teams probably root for good luck with health more than gold medals and developmental confidence-boosters when they see their players perform in international tournaments. Lehtonen and Goligoski’s issues don’t sound serious – Goligoski might not even be “injured” – yet it shows how much things can change for a team in a single game (even when those players aren’t wearing your sweater).

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?