NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 17: Bryan Bickell #29 of the Chicago Blackhawks plays against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on December 17, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

PHT Morning Skate: Bickell puts knee injury behind him

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Bryan Bickell doesn’t feel like his month on the sidelines with a knee injury has slowed him down. He returned on Tuesday. (CSN Chicago)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Calgary Flames have placed Curtis Glencross on the injured reserve list…again. (Calgary Herald)

San Jose goaltender Alex Stalock might end up getting used more regularly in the second half of the 2013-14 campaign. As it is, he’s only started in five of the Sharks’ 36 contests. (CSN Bay Area)

Defenseman Marc Methot couldn’t help but vent after the Ottawa Senators coughed up a late 3-2 lead on Saturday to lose 4-3 in overtime. He’s hoping they can pull off an upset against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight so that they can at least enter the Christmas break on a high note. (Ottawa Citizen)

Phil Kessel has been superb this season, but lately he’s struggled to find the back of the net. Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle isn’t particularly concerned though. (Toronto Star)

Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley has been taking care to ease 19-year-old forward Sean Monahan back into the lineup after he returned from a fractured foot. (

Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo has been making a good impression with the Pittsburgh Penguins thanks to his physical nature. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Report: Kings, Richards nearing settlement

Mike Richards
Leave a comment

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
Leave a comment

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?