zenon konopka

Wild agree to terms with Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell

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After making waves with contract offers to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Minnesota Wild inked a pair of less ballyhooed free agents — former Senators center Zenon Konopka and ex-Sharks winger Torrey Mitchell.

Mitchell, 27, has spent his entire five-year career with the Sharks. After a solid 2010-11 campaign (9G-14A-23PTS, plus-10), the University of Vermont product regressed last season, scoring just 19 points with a minus-six rating while his average ice time dipped below 13 per game.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Mitchell’s deal is for three years, $5.7 million with an average annual cap hit of $1.9 million.

Konopka, 31, is a unique player — a quality fighter that racks up penalty minutes (he led the NHL in 2009-10 and 2010-11.) He’s also a skilled faceoff man that routinely finishes amongst the league’s best in winning percentage.

Konopka proved to be a vital contributor for the Senators in their opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers, scoring two points in six games while getting over 11 minutes per game — a huge bump from the 7:51 he averaged during the regular season.

Still no word on the financial side of Konopka’s deal, but Dreger reports it’s of the two-year variety.

Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.