Departures: Robidas leaves Finnish team, Stewart exits Germany


Two more locked-out NHLers parted ways with their European clubs on Wednesday.

The first was Dallas Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas, who opted not to extend his contract with Finnish team HIFK Helsinki.

Robidas, 35, signed with the SM-liiga club back in early October, joining fellow locked-out NHLers Lennart Petrett and Sean Bergenheim.

He appeared in 15 games for HIFK and recorded 2G-3A-5PTS, racking up 22 penalty minutes and a ghastly minus-11 rating (though possibly not all his doing — Helsinki sits a disappointing 10th in the 14-team league.)

The second player to return home was St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart, who left German second division club Crimmitschau.

According to a hasty Google translate of the Crimmitschau press release, Stewart returned to Canada because he was one of the players that “received from their managers to call for a return to North America and to prepare for an early start to the season may soon.”

So yeah.

The departure marks an end to Stewart’s wild European adventure — he first signed in Germany (along with Wayne Simmonds) in late September, then jumped ship (again, with Simmonds) in October to sign with Liberec of the Czech Extraliga.

In November, Stewart abruptly left the Czech Republic for a reunion with Crimmitschau, not long after the ugly racial chants incident involving Simmonds and fans of Extraliga club Chomutov.

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?