No doubt about it, Brendan Shanahan and the rest of the league’s player safety decision-makers have been put to the test over the last few days. If you ask Gary Bettman and the NHL’s Board of Governors, it appears that they’ve passed with flying colors, as The Canadian Press reports.
“I believe the sense of the room is that Brendan Shanahan and the department of player safety has the confidence of the board of governors. He certainly has my confidence,” Bettman said. “It’s about modifying an element of the game’s culture and we think we’ve made positive, dramatic steps forward.”
Bettman praises Shanahan for his attention to detail and for being “proactive.”
The league’s GMs also gave Shanny & Co. the thumbs up.
“You’re not going to rid yourself of suspensions and what have you, but we’ve certainly come so much farther,” Nashville Predators GM David Poile said. “I mean, look where we were. I’ve been around for a long time, and some of the stuff that happened in the so-called old days, to where we are now, it’s so much better for the players and a so much better game.”
The key many (including Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli) point to is evolving the process to police the game without taking the physicality out of the sport. So far, it seems like league executives believe Shanahan is pushing things in the right direction.
For a roundup of the other Board of Governors issues, including talk about expansion, click here.
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?