Peter Laviolette and Paul Holmgren

Holmgren hasn’t ‘even thought about’ firing Laviolette


With the Flyers falling further and further out of the playoff picture, general manager Paul Holmgren gave his head coach, Peter Laviolette, a vote of confidence today.

When asked if Laviolette was on the hot seat — a notion that only gained momentum with Philadelphia’s lackluster performance and loss last night in New Jersey — Holmgren replied he didn’t think so.

“The coaches have done a good job,” said Holmgren, per “Right now, our team needs to play better. We’re making a lot of mistakes. A lot from our lack of competitiveness. Our team needs to compete better. I don’t like the way we’re playing right now, but I don’t necessarily blame that on the coach.”

Holmgren added that he hadn’t “even thought about” firing Laviolette — “You guys keep asking these questions about the coach and it hasn’t even entered my mind.”

If Holmgren blames anyone for the team’s win-loss record, it’s the players — “They’re the ones on the ice.”

The Flyers are on the ice again tomorrow at home to New Jersey. With just 20 games to go and a whole lot of ground to make up, they can’t afford another stinker.

Related: Flyers have to get their ‘swagger, mojo’ back

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?