OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 1: Chris Phillips #4 of the Ottawa Senators skates during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Canadian Tire Centre on December 1, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Phillips hopes to extend career, re-sign with Senators

Defenseman Chris Phillips will celebrate his 36th birthday in March and is playing out the final campaign of his three-year, $9.25 million contract, but he doesn’t want to start thinking about retirement yet. He’s hoping he doesn’t have to enter the free agent market either.

Phillips was drafted by Ottawa in 1996 and has spent his entire 1,103-game NHL career with the Senators. All’s quiet when it comes to the negotiations for a contract extension, but he’s hoping that changes in a hurry.

“Obviously, sooner rather than later,” Phillips told the Ottawa Citizen. “It has been a thought, for sure. It’s not weighing me down and I’m trying not to think about it too much, but obviously it’s there.”

He’s still playing a big role with the team, as evidenced by his 11 points and team-leading 48 blocked shots in 30 contests. He’s also averaging 21:07 minutes per game.

If he sticks around for another season, he will probably surpass former captain Daniel Alfredsson’s franchise record of 1,178 games played.

That being said, the Senators already have five blueliners inked to one-way contracts for the 2014-15 campaign, including current AHLer Mark Borowiecki. Eric Gryba, 25, might also earn a one-way deal as a restricted free agent and 2012 first-round pick Cody Ceci is likely to get a chance to play in the NHL sooner rather than later.

That logjam might be reason enough to give the Senators a moment’s pause, even if there certainly are reasons to keep him.

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?