Mark Giordano

Flames, NHLPA at odds over safety equipment


The Calgary Flames have managed to tread water so far this season with a 6-7-2 record, which is more than a lot of people expected from them. It hasn’t been easy though, especially with captain Mark Giordano out with a broken ankle and forward Lee Stempniak nursing a broken foot.

In an effort to prevent similar injuries in the future, Flames GM Jay Feaster has made it a mandatory team policy for all of his players to wear foot and ankle safety gear often called “shotblockers,” according to TSN.

The problem is that the NHLPA sees this as a violation of the CBA.

“No team can unilaterally make a piece of equipment mandatory,” the NHLPA’s Mathieu Schneider said.

TSN has the relevant CBA passage if you’re inclined to read legalese, but basically changes like this are expected to go through a review process before it becomes a requirement. With that in mind, the NHLPA plans to discuss the Flames’ actions with the NHL.

This isn’t necessarily about the shockblockers specifically for Schneider, but the potential consequences that might come from team’s attempting to bypass the system set in place.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Flames’ players are wearing the extra gear.

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?