Wild stay hot, Panthers remain the opposite


In a meeting of two teams that seem to be going in totally opposite directions, the status quo reigned supreme, as the Minnesota Wild edged the Florida Panthers 3-2.

Here are a few nuggets to drive that point home:

  • The Wild have won three games in a row and nine of their last 11 games. They’ve also won five in a row in Minnesota.
  • Josh Harding hasn’t lost in regulation since Oct. 17.
  • Meanwhile, Florida’s winning streak ends at … one game. They’ve now lost 10 of their last 11 games and only have two wins in 15.
  • A goalie not named Tim Thomas has won exactly one game: when Jacob Markstrom prevailed in the Panthers’ home-opening 6-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 11.

Yup, it doesn’t get much more disparate than that. The Wild are in the thick of things in an outstanding Central Division while the Panthers might secretly be excited that Buffalo might show some life, as that could increase their odds in the draft lottery.

But, hey, at least they got rid of Kris Versteeg …

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?