SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 09: Vladimir Sobotka #17 of the St. Louis Blues skates down ice past Ryane Clowe #29 of the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on March 9, 2013 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Video: Heroics from unlikely source – Sobotka’s hat trick


St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka is typically not a goal scorer. The fact that he found the back of the net 22 times over 295 career NHL games going into Saturday’s contest is evidence of that.

Sometimes though, a guy like Sobotka will rise to the occasion and dramatically change the course of a game.

Sobotka accounted for all three of St. Louis’ goals through 60 minutes — two more than he had ever previously scored in a single game. With the San Jose Sharks up 3-1 early in the third period, Sobotka found the back of the net twice in the span of just 80 seconds.

If you want to view Sobotka’s hat trick, you can do so below:

Those goals drove Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi out of the game. Alex Stalock replaced him and helped the Sharks hold on long enough to get a point. However, Patrik Berglund netted the overtime winner to complete the Blues 4-3 victory.

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?