With 3-on-3 OT likely on NHL’s horizon, change to points system should – but won’t – be next

Adam Proteau
Leafs goalie James Reimer and Sabres center Cody Hodgson (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL’s group of GMs Tuesday endorsed a 3-on-3 element to follow its current five-minute overtime period with a goal of mitigating the number of games that go to shootouts. That’s a reasonable decision made in the name of a fairer outcome that rewards better teams. It’s just a shame the league doesn’t extend that philosophy to its points system, which still treats every game as if it has the same competitive integrity.

This isn’t to say the league has utilized its current system (which it’s used since implementing shootouts in 2005-06) for no good reason – the smoke and mirrors of keeping teams closer (at least, in theory) to a playoff berth gives more franchises a longer time frame in which to sell tickets – but when GMs are moving to lessen the impact of shootouts, they’re in effect indicting the system and the shootout itself. And in not moving to a 3-2-1 points system (three wins for a regulation time win, two points for an overtime or shootout win, and one point for an overtime or shootout loss) that would reward teams for winning in regulation or overtime, the league isn’t doing all it can to reduce the number of shootouts its fans see. Read more

In the midst of a seething Leafs Nation – and team – Brendan Shanahan is a crucial calming force

Adam Proteau
Brendan Shanahan (Getty Images)

It feels like just about every citizen of, landed immigrant to, and legislative and judicial branch of Leafs Nation is angry these days. Some of Toronto’s players are incensed with the media; some Leafs fans are fed up with decades of frustration, poor decisions by management and ownership, and lack of playoff appearances; even something as innocuous as a post-victory acknowledgment to fans at the Air Canada Centre was a source of controversy, at least until the franchise’s astonishing collapse made clear what a molehill of an issue that really was.

However, in the midst of the maelstrom stands a pillar of patience and calm. Its name is Brendan Shanahan, Toronto’s president for coming up on 11 months now, and Leafs fans ought to be thankful for it. Shanahan doesn’t have the GM experience of, say, a Ray Shero and still must prove his vision over the long term. But his particular employment history – specifically, running the NHL’s department of player safety and serving as chief disciplinarian – has made him uniquely qualified to steer hockey’s most hyper-analyzed franchise through the white noise, hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing that seem to increase every week. Read more

Even with trial looming, Slava Voynov remains in limbo

Ken Campbell
Slava Voynov (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s still to be determined whether the domestic assault trial for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov will begin as scheduled Monday or be delayed by a week, and even if Voynov is found guilty, nobody seems certain when he’ll be able to play again.

As GMs are scouring the league for the final available talent before Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, Voynov is expected to be in court for the first day of what is expected to be a five-day trial on a felony count of corporal injury to a spouse with great bodily injury. But there may be a delay in the proceedings by a week, owing to the fact that deputy district attorney Frank Dunnick lobbied during a pre-trial conference this week to have the trial delayed by one week because he is working on another case. Read more

Clarkson-for-Horton trade a legal, and brilliant, circumvention of the salary cap

Ken Campbell
Nathan Horton  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

So much for the untradeable player with the unmovable contract. That species of player, thought to be alive and well in the salary cap era, does not exist. In fact, he never has because GMs such as David Nonis and Jarmo Kekalainen can cook up deals like the one they did Thursday afternoon.

In swapping the ill-suited and much maligned David Clarkson for the seriously and likely permanently injured Nathan Horton, Nonis and Kekalainen conspired to help each other out of contractual straitjackets that were paralyzing their rosters. This deal was so much more than just swapping one bad contract for another one. Read more

Mike Richards will actually make more money playing in the minors

Ken Campbell
Mike Richards (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

If things go swimmingly well for Mike Richards, he won’t even have to take one trip on the old iron lung. The Manchester Monarchs of the American League don’t have a road game until a week from Friday and even then, it’s only a 100-mile ride to Providence.

And there’s a chance everything will be cleared up for Richards by that time and he’ll be back in the NHL. Since the Los Angeles Kings put Richards on waivers earlier this week, he has been the subject of considerable trade speculation. The only problem is that Richards’ trade value is currently at an all-time low. In order for the Kings to deal him now, not only would they have to eat salary, they might even have to give their trading partner an asset to do the deal. Read more

L.A. Kings place Mike Richards on waivers. Who will grab him?

Matt Larkin
Mike Richards is headed to free agency after a buyout by the Los Angeles Kings. (Getty Images)

The defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings fed the NHL a harsh dose of reality less than 24 hours after the league displayed its silliest side at the All-Star Game.

The Kings placed center Mike Richards on waivers Monday, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Yes, that Mike Richards, the world junior champion, the 2010 gold medallist, the two-time Stanley Cup winner. Richards had appeared in many recent trade rumors, most commonly involving Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf, but the Kings reportedly could not find a taker. It’s not exactly a shocker no team wanted to give up something to acquire Richards, 29, at a $5.75-million cap hit for five more seasons after this one. He is nowhere near the player he was as a Philadelphia Flyer, and it appears he’s even lost a step since last season. Richards has sputtered to 15 points in 47 games, he’s won fewer than half his faceoffs, and it’s fair to wonder if Kings GM Dean Lombardi regrets not using a compliance buyout on Richards this past off-season. The euphoria of a second championship in three years understandably clouded his judgment.

As per the new(ish) collective bargaining agreement, the Kings can’t fully “bury” Richards’ contract for full relief from his cap hit. If he clears waivers, they will only save $925,000. They obviously hope some team claims Richards.

The question is – does any team have the stones to blow that much cap space on Richards? Re-entry waivers no longer exist, meaning the claiming team must take on his full cap hit and term. Richards still has some value to a contending team, as he’s still a plus in the possession game and he’s a winner who elevates his game in the post-season. But that may not matter at his price.

Read more

Time for star players to step up because NHL prepared to ditch Olympics

Ken Campbell
Sidney Crosby and Henrik Lundqvist (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS – Now is the time for the best players in the NHL to stand up the way they do when the Stanley Cup is on the line. Because if they don’t push the issue on Olympic participation, the NHL will be more than happy to trash the entire concept.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced the details of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will be played in Toronto Sept. 17-Oct. 1, 2016. Both sides spoke of the event in glowing terms and there was much singing from the same songbook. That’s because both sides stand to gain a mother lode of money from a World Cup. The profits for the event are split 50-50 between the NHLPA and the league, meaning they will not be part of Hockey Related Revenues and will have no bearing on the salary cap. Each side is free to take its money and do with it whatever it wants. Read more

Steven Stamkos likely to stay in Tampa as NHL’s highest earner

Ken Campbell
Steven Stamkos (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

As of today, it’s looking more like Steven Stamkos is going to remain a member of the Tampa Bay Lighting for a long, long time. The only question now is whether or not he’ll sign the richest eight-year contract in NHL history this summer and become the league’s highest-paid player.

Stamkos, who has in the past been a little coy about his future with the Lightning, was a definitive as he’s ever been about his contract status. In fact, he set off something of a social media firestorm this summer when he retweeted a tweet from Adam Proteau suggesting Stamkos follow the lead of LeBron James and sign with his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stamkos’s deal with the Lightning expires after next season, but he and the Lightning can announce a contract extension as early as July 1. And that’s clearly what Stamkos wants to do at this point. Read more