Danny Cleary

Detroit’s Cleary: Jan. 15 “end-all” date to save NHL season


Dan Cleary has been one of the NHLPA’s most outspoken members during the lockout, so it came as no surprise when he answered the burning question regarding the work stoppage — what date is the point of no return for the NHL season?

“If nothing is going on by Jan. 15, that would be for me an end-all. It has to be,” Cleary told the Detroit News. “I know they canceled Feb. 16 last time, but it’s not fathomable to have a season at that point.

“You can’t have a 35-game season.”

As Cleary alludes to, there was a last-ditch effort during the 2004-05 lockout to try and salvage the season before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made it official on Feb. 16.

(Click here for the CBC’s timeline)

This time around, though, lines have been drawn regarding drop-dead dates. Following Thursday’s negotiations in New York, Bettman made it clear he and the league also have a timeline in mind.

“When it gets to the point where we can’t play a season with integrity, then we’ll be done,” he said. “If you go back in history, in 1994-95, I think we played 48 games.

“I can’t imagine wanting to play fewer than that.”


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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?