Brad Richards retires, latest contract signings and more in this morning’s collection of NHL headlines.
NHLPA: After 15 NHL seasons, center Brad Richards yesterday announced his retirement. He collected 926 points in 1,126 regular-season games and 105 points in 146 playoff games. He played on two Stanley Cup champions (Tampa Bay in 2004, Chicago in 2015), won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2004 and was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2001.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In my opinion, Richards will one day be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Several Prince Edward island-born players, such as Al MacAdam, Bob MacMillan, Gerard Gallant and Errol Thompson, became NHL stars. Richards was the Island’s first NHL superstar. From 2000-01 to 2010-11, Richards was among the league’s top players. Along with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, Richards played a significant role in turning the Tampa Bay Lightning from a laughingstock into a champion. He was also heavily involved in children’s charities on PEI and in every NHL city he played for.
THE WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals narrowly avoided salary arbitration with forward Marcus Johansson, re-signing him to a three-year, $13.75 million contract with an annual average value of $4.58 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable deal for Johansson at a reasonable term.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche avoided arbitration with forward MIkhail Grigorenko to a one-year, $1.3 million contract.
NEW YORK POST: Winger Chris Kreider is seeking a new contract worth $4.75 million, while the Rangers seek $3.2 million. His arbitration hearing is Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seems to me they should be able to reach an agreement on $4 million per season on a three-year deal.
NHL.COM: Winger Kyle Palmieri will replace Ryan Callahan, who’s recovering from hip surgery, on Team USA’s World Cup of Hockey roster.
THE STAR: Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello is reluctant to give 2016 first overall draft pick Auston Matthews the same entry-level contract as Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Buffalo’s Jack Eichel. The sticking point is performance bonuses.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Someone needs to remind Lamoriello that he’s no longer the GM of a budget team as he was in New Jersey. The Leafs ownership has very deep pockets. They can afford to pay their top pick, the kid who could become their franchise player, the same deal as McDavid and Eichel. After all, it’s an entry-level contract, so he’s not going to get more money than those two, or more than the team’s top veteran players. Playing hardball with Matthews before he’s even suited for the Leafs is pointless.
SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY: The NHL has dismissed the neutral arbitrator who reduced the 20-game suspension of Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman for striking an official to 10 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL apparently likes neutral arbiters just fine, so long as they rule in the league’s favor.
**UPDATE** GJ Berg sends along this link from Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski with a deeper look at why arbiter James Oldham was fired, as he apparently revised the sentence on the basis of reviewing the video evidence, rather than on the basis of the argument presented by the league and the NHLPA.
THE TENNESSEAN: “Attorneys for Nashville Predators part-owner David Freeman argued Wednesday that his lawsuit seeking to recoup the hockey club and Chairman Tom Cigarran should stay in a Nashville court — not be sent to the NHL for arbitration.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems Freeman believes he’ll get a better shake in court than he would from league commissioner Gary Bettman.