Leafs waive Smithson


After a 13-game audition with Toronto, Jerred Smithson could be on his way out of town.

The veteran center was placed on waivers Wednesday, the Maple Leafs announced. Head coach Randy Carlyle was blunt in both his assessment of and reasoning behind the move.

“We felt we have players ahead of him,” Carlyle said, as per Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “Simple as that.”

Smithson, 34, signed with the Leafs in early November after a successful tryout with the AHL Marlies. Toronto was dealing with major issues at the center position at the time of the deal — Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland were both out of action — and Smithson went on to appear in 13 games for Toronto, failing to register a point while averaging 10:20 TOI per game.

Putting Smithson on waivers is somewhat surprising, given Bozak suffered another injury during Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to San Jose. Bozak is expected to undergo an MRI today and if he’s unable to play, the Leafs would be left with Nazem Kadri, Trevor Smith, Peter Holland and Jay McClement as its top four centers.

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?