Jim Rutherford

PHT Morning Skate: Pittsburgh columnist rips Rutherford, coaching search


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.

New Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was heavily criticized by columnist Ron Cook over his handling of the team’s coaching search. Cook questioned whether Rutherford knows what he’s doing and later added “it’s as if the organization has become a joke.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Detroit Red Wings are generally regarded as a team that has done a good job in drafts, but it doesn’t always work out for them. Here’s a list at five of their worst drafts over the past two decades. (Detroit Free Press)

Here’s a look at the 2014 Hockey Hall of Fame candidates. The inductees will be announced at 3:00 p.m. ET today. (Toronto Star)

The Chicago Blackhawks will start their 2014 training camp in Notre Dame. (CSN Chicago)

Would it make any sense for the Flyers to target Jonas Hiller as a mentor for Steve Mason? Even if Hiller was open to the idea, would the risk of creating a goaltending controversy between the two make it not worth it for Philadelphia? (CSN Philly)

President and CEO John McDonough is honored that the Chicago Blackhawks have been picked to participate in the 2015 Winter Classic. (Chicago Tribune)

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?