Another lousy Flyers camp isn’t happening on Berube’s watch


You don’t need to read between the lines to figure out what Craig Berube thinks of the Flyers’ conditioning level.

From the Philadelphia Daily News:

Left unanswered is how much more this group can offer if they come to camp in shape, or even in better-than-ever shape.

We’re about to find out, said the coach.

“We made it clear that everybody has to come into camp in shape,” Berube said. “It can’t be average, it can’t be just above average. It has to be exceptional. And they all know that. We need to get to another level defensively and that’s just everybody being accountable every moment they’re on the ice. A lot has to do with just pressure and skating and work.

“We have to change people. Because they’ve done it a certain way for a long while. You’ve got to change ’em, you’ve got to get on ’em more. But they’ve got to want to make it happen.”

Last year, Philly’s camp was a disaster — so bad, in fact, that owner Ed Snider made a point of addressing it following Peter Laviolette’s dismissal just three games into the season.

“I thought our training camp, quite frankly, was one of the worst training camps I’ve ever seen,” Snider said. “I’m not talking about wins or losses. There was nothing exciting. Nobody shined. Nobody looked good.

“I couldn’t point to one thing that I thought was a positive.”

This isn’t the first time Berube’s stressed the need for Philly to improve it’s conditioning, either. Both he and players said the Flyers lacked full 60-minute efforts this past season, something Berube addressed specifically in his media session following an opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

“That has to be corrected. That can’t happen,” Berube said, per CSN Philadelphia. “I understand a team having momentum at some point in periods in games for a certain amount of time, but not for that length of a time.

“I think we need to do a better job as a coaching staff of getting our players to change that.”

It’s also worth noting Philly’s recent trends of slow starts. During the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, the Flyers began the year 2-6-0 and never got back on track, failing to make the playoffs. This year, Philly got off to a 4-10-1 start — which included the Laviolette firing — before clawing back and making the postseason.

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?