In the latest bit of bad news for the struggling Avalanche, defenseman Erik Johnson is out indefinitely with a head injury.
Per the Denver Post, Colorado coach Joe Sacco said today after practice that Johnson will not travel with the team as it leaves on a two-game trip to Minnesota (Thursday) and Edmonton (Saturday).
Johnson left Monday’s game against Phoenix after he reportedly “awkwardly absorbed a check from Martin Hanzal.”
The 24-year-old has one assist in 11 games for the Avalanche so far this season but had consistently been playing more than 20 minutes a game, falling short of that mark only twice (and Monday was once).
The news couldn’t have really come at a worse time. Colorado (4-6-1) has lost three in a row and is still without injured captain Gabriel Landeskog (head) and star forward Ryan O’Reilly, the latter of whom is mired in a contract dispute with the club that could result in a trade.
On the bright side, defenseman Matt Hunwick (torso) and center John Mitchell (flu) are expected to be back against the Wild.
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.
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?