Canes place Ruutu on IR, could get Skinner back for opener

The Carolina Hurricanes have faced some tough injury news this summer, and while Sunday presented some more, at least there’s a positive update to go with it.

The bad: Tuomo Ruutu has been placed on the injured reserve, according to the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander.

The good: Jeff Skinner is expected to practice Monday and could play in the team’s season opener, also via Alexander.

Both Skinner and Ruutu have struggled with health problems in recent seasons, so it’s sadly not a surprise that their names are coming up in injury news.

Skinner, 21, is currently nursing a lower-body injury, which the team just wanted to be smart about. He’s considered day-to-day at the moment, so tomorrow’s practice could be important in that regard.

GM Jim Rutherford emphasizes that Ruutu’s issue isn’t with a hip that plagued him before.

Regardless, it’s clear that the 30-year-old’s rugged style continues to put him at peril. He was limited to 17 games in 2013, missed 10 in 2011-12 and has frequently been sidelined in his up-and-down career. In retrospect, his 82-game (and 57-point) 2010-11 season with Carolina seems like a sad tease.

The Hurricanes already received some bad news about Joni Pitkanen earlier this offseason and have had some scares with Cam Ward and Eric Staal to boot.

Maybe Skinner’s progress is a sign that their luck might start turning around, then?

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?