Mike Richards

Mike Richards got more comfortable with Kings in 2013

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It might seem like longer at this point, but it was just two years ago that forward Mike Richards was the captain of the Flyers. He had inked a 12-year deal with the club and probably assumed that he’d spend his entire career in Philadelphia.

That didn’t happen and Richards was forced to adjust. Of course, that’s a lot easier when you win the Stanley Cup in your first season with the new club, but that doesn’t mean that the adjustment period ended with the 2012-13 campaign.

“I think you feel more comfortable your second year,” Richards told LA Kings Insider. “Especially after you win a championship, and more so after the first couple months, you start feeling more comfortable and confident to say things in the dressing room.

“Maybe your first season you’re a little bit tentative to step up in different ways, but I think this year with pretty much the same group as we had last year, I think everybody stepped up in different ways when things needed to be said.”

The Los Angeles Kings weren’t able to successfully defend their championship, but they fought all the way to the Western Conference finals. Richards played a big role in their 2013 postseason run with three goals and 12 points in 15 games.

Although there will probably be some adjustments over the summer, the core of the Kings is likely to stay intact. That puts them in a good position to make another serious push for the Stanley Cup in 2013-2014.

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?