The Buffalo Sabres have gone in a unique direction with their leadership group, naming Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott co-captains for the 2013-14 season.
According to head coach Ron Rolston, Vanek will serve as captain for home games and Ott will don the “C” for road contests. In addition, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff has been named as an alternate captain.
The decision to name Vanek and Ott co-captains isn’t entirely surprising — Vanek is the team’s most talented and leading scorer, and Ott has quickly become a fan favorite.
What is interesting, though, are their contractual statuses.
Both Ott and Vanek are pending UFAs at season’s end. Vanek has already been the subject of many a trade rumor and was non-committal about sticking though a potential rebuild in Buffalo, saying the situation wasn’t the “best-case scenario.”
Ott has been less talkative on the subject, and GM Darcy Regier said he hasn’t begun discussions about a new contract (adding that it’s “not unusual” to be silent on talks with ’14 free agents.)
Image courtesy Buffalo Sabres
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?