Leafs are excited that Bozak (oblique) may return Sunday


Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Claude Loiselle is excited about the possibility of Tyler Bozak returning from an oblique injury on Sunday, pointing to how the return of a player can allow other skaters to assume more appropriate roles.

“Bozak is our best faceoff guy,” Loiselle told the Toronto Sun on Wednesday. “And when you don’t win draws either on the power play or on the penalty kill, you end up spending a lot of time chasing the puck instead of controlling it.

“When he comes back, it simply allows other guys to drop down and play in positions they might be more comfortable with. He will be a welcome addition when he returns.”

Bozak, 27, has been sidelined since Dec. 3. The Maple Leafs center had played well in a stretch of five games returning from a separate injury, scoring one goal and four assists in five games from Nov. 25 – Dec. 3. It’s been that kind of season for the two-way center, yet the Leafs would be glad to have him back.

The Maple Leafs face the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. That will be Toronto’s second game back in action, as they’re facing the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

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?