Mark Stuart

Jets’ Stuart signs with ECHL Florida

Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart has agreed to join the Florida Everblades of the ECHL on a lockout deal, according to USA Today.

Stuart, 28, is the latest in a number of locked-out NHLers to join the East Coast league. He’ll join Colorado rearguard Ryan O’Byrne in Florida and could soon face off against a number of his contemporaries: Ryan Reaves (Orlando), Colby Armstrong (Utah) and Kyle Clifford (Ontario) to name a few.

One of the Jets’ four alternate captains, Stuart enjoyed a solid campaign in the franchise’s inaugural season in Winnipeg in 2011-12. He finished second on the team in hits (198) while leading in blocked shots (182) — that number left him tied for eighth in the NHL last season, with New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

Stuart has two seasons remaining on the three-year, $5.1 million extension signed with Atlanta in 2011.


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?