Orpik: First days after Thornton attack were ‘miserable’


Brooks Orpik met with the media on Friday — following his first practice since the Shawn Thornton incident — and gave updates on his concussion recovery.

“First two, three days were miserable,” he said, as per the Pens’ Twitter feed. “Headaches. [But] since the incident, there has been no memory loss.”

Orpik, who suffered a concussion after Thornton slew-footed him to the ice before punching him in the head, said he has passed baseline tests and absorbed some contact in practice.

“Got through that and feel good today,” he said. “Going from there.”

The 33-year-old also told reporters that — while he hasn’t watched video of the incident and has no desire to — he did speak with Thornton following the attack:

There does not appear to be any timetable for Orpik’s return to action though, judging by the fact he’s taking some contact in practice, he shouldn’t be far away. Pittsburgh next players on Saturday against Calgary, then begins a four-game road swing on Monday in Ottawa, followed by games in Carolina (Friday, Dec. 27), Columbus (Sunday, Dec. 29) and New Jersey (Tuesday, Dec. 31).

As for Thornton, he is appealing his 15-game suspension, of which he’s already served six games.

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?