Ottawa Senators v Calgary Flames

Sens assign Lehner to AHL Binghamton

Ottawa’s crowded goalie position just got a little breathing room.

On Tuesday, the Senators announced they assigned Robin Lehner to AHL Binghamton, meaning Ben Bishop will move into the No. 2 spot behind starter Craig Anderson.

The Sens had been carrying three goalies since the start of the regular season, with Lehner dressing as Anderson’s backup for both games thus far.

While there’s been jockeying for Ottawa’s reserve gig, the starting goalie job is all but locked up — Anderson has been brilliant, allowing just one goal on 59 shots in wins over Winnipeg and Florida.

Part of the reason for assigning Lehner, 21, to Binghamton was because the Senators were able to. He’s still on an entry-level whereas Bishop is an RFA.

It’s also possible the Sens wanted to see Lehner continue to excel at the AHL level. The Swedish netminder has 14 wins and currently ranks second among AHL goaltenders in save percentage (.945 percent) and is third in goals-against-average (1.90).

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?