Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson continued his remarkable recovery from a sliced Achilles tendon on Friday, getting cleared for contact and fully practicing with teammates for the first time since the injury.
What’s more, his return to game action sounds closer than ever.
Sens GM Bryan Murray said Karlsson is ‘100 percent’ and his return is contingent upon getting back into game shape.
The 22-year-old blueliner has been out of action since his left Achilles was sliced by Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke on Feb. 14.
The cut resulted in a 70 percent laceration, an injury that required immediate surgery and prematurely ended Karlsson’s campaign.
Or so it was said at the time.
To give you an idea of how Karlsson looked in his first full practice, here’s Sportsnet’s Shannon Proudfoot from today’s practice:
The Senators play Saturday at home against Toronto, and it’s doubtful Karlsson will be made available given he hasn’t played a game in over two months.
Monday, though, could be another story.
Ottawa will host Pittsburgh that night — you know, Cooke’s team — in what would be a dramatic return for the reigning Norris Trophy winner.
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?