Havlat discusses health after returning to Bay Area

Martin Havlat is back in California after spending a few months in his native Czech Republic, and he told’s Kevin Kurz that last season’s hamstring injury is all healed up.

“I feel great,” Havlat said. “I was ready to go in September and I am ready to go now.”

The fragile winger returned to the United States to help take care of his new baby girl Tereza, not because of extended health issues. He was limited to just 39 games last season, one of four campaigns where he played in fewer than 60 contests.

Moving on, Havlat dished on a few pertinent topics, beginning with his positive outlook about the lockout ending.

“In [1994-95] they started in January, so we have, let’s say a month and a half left until we know what’s going to happen. I believe still that we’re going to play,” Havlat said. “I believe in what we’re doing and what we stand for, and I believe in Don Fehr.”

Closing things out, Havlat also spoke glowingly about his agent Allan Walsh, who has been frequently outspoken on Twitter during the work stoppage.

“I know what he’s doing, and what he’s writing,” Havlat said. “I talk to him a lot, too. I think it’s been great. Unfortunately, he might be the only agent speaking out and supporting the players. It would be nice if we get some help, but he’s been great. He’s doing a great job not just for his own players, but for the whole group of players.”

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?