Gary Bettman

Bettman denies NHL taking over Devils — sale imminent?


Today in New York, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman denied a report that the league is preparing to take over the financially troubled New Jersey Devils.

“If the suggestion is we’re going to take over the Devils, it’s not accurate,” said Bettman, per Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger.

Not accurate, perhaps, because a Devils sale could be imminent, according to The Record’s Tom Gulitti.

While it’s tempting to compare the Devils’ ownership situation to that of another problem NHL franchise, the Phoenix Coyotes, it’s not really appropriate to do so.

The big difference between the two situations is that relocation was only an option for the Coyotes. The Devils, by all indications, are staying put in Newark. What’s really needed in New Jersey is a deep-pocketed ownership group that can haul the club out of debt.

CSN Philly has more on the story, with a quote from deputy commissioner Bill Daly — “…to the extent it suggests that league is intending to take over the club, it is inaccurate” — as well as one NHL governor who says there are buyers for the Devils.

Related: 76ers ownership group reportedly interested in buying Devils

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.