Josh Harding

Slumping Wild recall Dowell, Veilleux and Harding

Losers in seven of their last 10, the Minnesota Wild shook things up on Monday.

The club recalled a trio of veterans from AHL Houston — forwards Jake Dowell and Stephane Veilleux, goalie Josh Harding — and sent down a trio of youngsters in forwards Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker, and goalie Darcy Kuemper.

Of the three call-ups, Veilleux is probably the most surprising. The 31-year-old hasn’t played in a game this season and appeared in just 21 contests for the Wild last season after being acquired from New Jersey in the Marek Zidlicky deal.

Veilleux spent eight years with the organization before joining Tampa Bay for the 2009-10 season.

Dowell, 28, has also yet to appear in a game this season for the Wild, but did play in 52 games for Dallas last season, recording 2G-5A-7PTS.

Both players have a bit of NHL postseason experience (Veilleux 11 games, Dowell two).

As for Harding, the recall marks his return to the club after a setback with multiple sclerosis.

It was clear the Wild needed a more veteran presence than Kuemper to back up Niklas Backstrom — head coach Mike Yeo seemed hesitant to play the 22-year-old down the stretch and, as a result, Backstrom has started the last 11 games.

The 35-year-old Finn may be showing signs of fatigue, as he’s surrendered 14 goals on his last 92 shots — a .848 save percentage.

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?